Summary: Thomas doubted. We doubted. What’s the cure?
John 20:19-31: Easter – Fact of Fiction? The cure for doubt.
“The Easter story is nothing but a myth,” Tom’s high school teacher announced to his class a few days before Easter break. “Jesus not only didn’t rise from the grave,” he continued, “but there’s no God in heaven who would allow his son to be crucified in the first place.”
“Sir, I believe in God,” Tom protested. “And I believe in the resurrection.”
“Tom, you can believe what you wish to, of course,” the teacher said, “However, the real world excludes the possibility of miracles like the resurrection. The resurrection is a scientific impossibility. No one who believes in miracles can also respect science.”
Then the teacher proposed an experiment. Reaching into his refrigerator, he produced a raw egg and held it up. “I’m going to drop this egg on the floor,” he said. “Gravity will pull it toward the floor that the egg will most certainly break apart.” Looking at Tom with a challenge, he said, “Now tom, I want you to pray a prayer right now and ask your God to keep this egg from breaking when it hits the floor. If he can do that, then you’ll have proven your point, and I’ll have to admit that there is a God.”
After pondering the challenge for a moment, Tom slowly stood up to pray: “Dear Heavenly Father,” Tom prayed, “I pray that when my teacher drops the egg, it will break into a hundred pieces. And also, Lord, I pray that when the egg does break, my teacher will have a heart attack and die. Amen.”
After a unison gasp, the class sat in silent expectation. For a moment the teacher did nothing. At last he looked at Tom and then the egg. Without a word he carefully put the egg back into the refrigerator. “Class dismissed,” the teacher said, and then he sat down to clear his desk.
The teacher apparently did believe in God’s existence more than he thought. Many people, like that teacher, deny that God exists, yet run from him, question him, and attack him whenever they get the chance. That teacher wasn’t willing to bet his life that God didn’t exist.
Many people doubt the existence of God. Many people doubt the resurrection. On that first Easter, many years ago, one of the disciples refused to believe in the resurrection. He had doubts. Today we are going to take a look at that man, and see how his doubts are our doubts. We’re also going to see how Jesus healed this man of the disease of doubt, and how he heals us today.
On Easter night, the disciples were together in a house, hiding behind locked doors. A number of them had seen Jesus alive, and now they were scared. What were the Jewish leaders going to do? Would they be arrested now? Would they be accused of stealing the body? Would anyone believe them if they told people that Jesus had risen from the dead? They were hiding from the Pharisees and Sadduccees – hoping to avoid confrontation.
Suddenly, Jesus was standing in the middle of them, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus always says just the right thing at the right time, doesn’t he. He tells them that they can feel peace in their hearts. He was there, and they had nothing to worry about. He showed them his hands and side to prove to them that he wasn’t a ghost, but that he was the same Jesus they had known, the same Jesus they had seen crucified just three days earlier.
The Apostle Thomas wasn’t there. When he returned, the disciples told him that Jesus had appeared to them. But Thomas didn’t believe: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” You can’t get much more skeptical than that, can you. I will not believe, unless I see visible proof.
Why does Thomas refuse to believe? Because Thomas was a practical person, and he lived in a practical world. He was shattered on Good Friday when Jesus died. But he wasn’t about to succumb to fantasy. Dead was dead, and that was it. No one in their right minds would doubt it when the Romans said a prisoner was dead. They were experts at killing! It’s not that Thomas didn’t want to believe that Jesus was still alive. But Thomas knew how the world worked. Dead was dead, and that was it.
That’s how our world sees Jesus’ resurrection today. Nice idea, but it didn’t really happen. Many people are set on proving that the resurrection of Jesus was a spiritual resurrection. Jesus arose only in the sense that his spirit goes marching on, sort of life the way the spirit of Abraham Lincoln continues to influence America.