Summary: The reason we need this message is to help us through times such as experienced by the prophet Habakkuk: Habakkuk’s words show the difficulty that many of us have concerning our world.
Introduction: Jesus’ question to Martha in John 11:26 was this: Do you believe?
The Book of John was written that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God. John 20:31.
In the first six miracles of Jesus in the book, “we have seen his power over the physical aspects of life, including the human body, the natural elements, time and space, and even food and drink. But in each case Jesus also demonstrated that his purposes went beyond the physical to the spiritual. Now the Lord revealed his power by reaching beyond this life and touching death and the afterlife—territory that belongs only to God (Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 213.)”
When Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was dead, he also said, “and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him (John 11:15).” This begs the question: for us, under what conditions does it take for us to believe? What would cause us to increase in faith or belief?
Propositional Statement: Jesus gives us a confident faith by answering our questions of faith through the varied directions of the lives of Thomas and Martha. The reason we need this message is to help us through times such as experienced by the prophet Habakkuk: Habakkuk’s words show the difficulty that many of us have concerning our world. He says, “O Lord, how long must I call for help before you will listen? I shout to you in vain; there is no answer. “Help! Murder!” I cry, but no one comes to save. Must I forever see this sin and sadness all around me? (Habakkuk 1:2, The Living Bible)
Thomas’ Problem of Confidence
A. Crisis of Faith: When Jesus was considering going back to Judea where Lazarus’ family was; “The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again? (John 11:8)”
Because Thomas thinks that they will also be stoned if they return with Jesus, he said “to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him (John 11:16).” Culturally, this is interesting: “As much as disciples loved their teachers, this is a rare expression of commitment in practice; in general, Jewish people emphasized only being prepared to die for God and his law(Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jn 11:11–16).” Although Thomas is somewhat courageous, he is also unclear about what direction Jesus is taking them. We know that Jesus came to die on a cross as a sacrifice for sin. For that to occur, Jesus would not be stoned, nor would the disciples take part in becoming the sacrifice. Thomas’ call to the disciples to follow Jesus would become our beacon call: Take up your cross daily and follow Jesus!
What I find interesting about the faith of Thomas’ faith is his ability to forget. Thomas was one of the witnesses to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead after days; and yet when the other disciples told Thomas that Jesus was raised in John 20, he says what??, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe (John 20:25).”
Oh how our faith is similar! Are we not ever crying for physical and visible proof of His power and presence? Witnessing, we hear the skeptical and forever rational statement, “Well, if Jesus appeared to me now, maybe I would believe?” Well, Jesus did just that! He appreared!
“And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”
Wordsworth writes: “The wounds which Satan inflicted in malice and scorn on our Lord’s crucified Body, have been converted by His controlling power and wisdom into proofs of His Resurrection, and marks of His personal identity. They have become indelible evidences of His power, graven, as it were, with an iron pen on the Rock of Ages, to be read by the eyes of Angels and men for eternity; and they remain for ever, as glorious trophies of His victory over death and sin, and over Satan himself.”—P. S.] John Peter Lange and Philip Schaff, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 621.