Summary: One week after the resurrection and we are given a classic text to ponder.
One week after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ we are back in the real world, and given what I consider a classic text to ponder. We are dealt four concepts this morning. Well they are really more than concepts. They are ways of life. They are doubt and faith—fear and peace.
Doubt and fear are concepts we understand very well. This is what the world offers.
Faith and peace are concepts we would like to understand. This is what the kingdom of God offers.
So let’s begin with doubt. Poor Doubting Thomas. He truly does get a bum rap. His name is synonymous with doubt. All you have to do is pick up a Webster Dictionary and there it is—in two places—under “d” and “t”. Even if a person knows nothing about the Bible they know what a doubting Thomas it.
But seriously, put yourself in Thomas’ sandals. You’ve just attended the funeral of a good friend, and a couple days later you run into somebody at Stracks, and they claim, “Hey, did you see what his face today? Man he looked great. You’d never imagine he died last week.” How would you react? I think my first concern would be for this person’s emotional well-being. My second thought might be this person saw someone that looked a lot life the dead person.
And yet Thomas is the perfect example of most of us self-proclaiming Christians. Thomas had missed the coming back to life party for Jesus, but I’m sure he had heard the same story over and over and over again from every single one of his fellow disciples. Just as you sit here week after week and hear the same ole story. “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”
But poor ole doubting Thomas, who had followed Jesus around for the past three years, seen a bunch of strange things, just could not believe this bazaar tale. After all, the world teaches rising from the dead can’t happen. The resurrection is something beyond his comprehending. But I truly admire Thomas. He at least is honest enough to say, “unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand is his side, I will not believe.”
How many of you have ever had thought the same thing? How many of you have ever had those same doubts, but where just to ashamed to admit it? Like you might be a bad Christian or something? Thomas thought it, had the guts to say it.
The more I read the Bible the more I see God’s chosen ones doubt, and even make their doubts known in the open. Then the beauty of it all is that God works through their doubt/our doubt and changes it into faith. I’m not nuts! At least when it comes to this. I truly seem to be given my strongest faith, when I am at a time in my life where I have the most doubts.
Read Genesis. Read Job. Read the Psalms. Read the gospels. Even Jesus hanging on the cross cries out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” Thomas is just one in a long line of faithful people who have raised their voices to ask the hard questions, and have doubt turned into faith. Get this my friends, tradition teaches that it was Thomas that took the good news of Jesus as far away as India. Faith through Doubt!
Ok! I give you that Thomas was allowed to see and touch the Risen Christ. However, this seeing and believing came through Thomas’ doubts and questions. That’s why Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Folks don’t beat yourself up, because you don’t have that faith to move mountains, yet. Don’t get discourage because you can’t seem muster up enough belief to eliminate your doubts. Faith is not an easy thing! Our faith journey will put us in uncomfortable places and plead for answers—to plead for a personal encounter like Thomas. Folks it is through our questions one is given answers. Through our doubts, one is given faith! Faith through doubt!
Throughout the history of the Bible—God supplies whatever faith needed. Faith is the willingness to confront and even embrace the doubts that the world throws our way and ask the difficult questions. Faith is committing to something that is beyond our ability to comprehend, but not afraid to try.
The more time I spend in the ministry the more I am convinced there is very little that is cut-and-dry about the Christian faith. It cannot be reduced to a set of rules where everything fits, everything makes sense, all one has to do is connect the dots.