Summary: What is the cause of doubt? The cure?
Monday: John 20
We begin in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Lord Jesus Christ, bless us as we gather here this morning. Help us to pay attention. Help us to grow in our faith. Be with us, and send to each one of us here this morning, your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever been told to stop doing something? In school, you’re always being told to stop. “Stop talking to the person sitting next to you.” “Stop sleeping.” “Stop this. Stop that.”
In the story of Jesus, appearing to his disciples, remember what he said to one of his disciples? He told one of them to stop doing something. Jesus didn’t say, stop talking, or stop messing around. Remember the story? On Easter night, Jesus appeared to his disciples, and one of them was missing. It was Thomas. When Thomas showed up later on that night, he would not believe it when his friends told him that Jesus was alive. Unless I see Jesus with my own eyes, unless I touch his wounded hands and side, I won’t believe it, Thomas said. Thomas wanted proof – real, visible, touchable proof that Jesus was alive.
Remember what Jesus said to Thomas, a week later – the Sunday after Easter? Jesus appeared to his disciples again. This time Thomas was with them. What did Jesus say? Stop… what? Stop doubting and believe. And then Jesus spoke those famous words: “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
This week we’re going to really ponder what Jesus said here to Thomas, and to us. Stop doubting, and believe. What is it, that causes us to doubt? What is it, that causes us to believe? How can I be someone who has never seen Jesus in my entire life, and yet I strongly believe in him? How can I be that person? Those are some of the questions that we will be considering this morning and this week.
Whenever we hear this story, we often say to ourselves, “I would never be like Thomas. He was stupid. I would have believed right away. I would have been one of the strong disciples!” Is that really what would have happened? You wouldn’t have been skeptical? Have you ever thought about how much you and Thomas have in common?
You and Thomas both have had Christian educations. For you, it’s a Christian high school. Confirmation class. Maybe Christian grade school. Thomas had a better Christian education than you, some would say. Three years of being one of the 12 apostles – an amazing Christian education – watching and listening to everything Jesus ever said and did – live. Everything you ever read in the Bible, and more (because more happened than what you have here) – Thomas was there. He saw it all. He heard it all. He asked Jesus questions, he talked about Jesus with the other disciples – he had one of the best Christian educations a person could ever have had.
And yet, he still doubted. Even with all of your Christian education, haven’t you ever had a moment of doubt? Do I really believe all this stuff? Why am I a Christian anyway? It is because my parents are Christians? Is there really a heaven? Is there really a Jesus who died and rose from the dead? Do I really believe all this? Had you ever had a moment of doubt?
What is it that causes doubt? For Thomas, and for us, it’s often the same thing.
You see, Thomas saw things and heard that made him feel like he had put all of his trust in the wrong place. He saw Jesus arrested, even though Jesus was all-powerful. He saw Jesus tortured and shouted at by the crowds and crucified, even though Jesus was God and he could walk on water and calm storms and heal people of their diseases. Thomas saw Jesus die, even though Jesus could raise people from the dead. None of this made any sense. These things Thomas saw, and heard, gave him feelings of confusion and disappointment and sadness. All of these things made him feel like he had put his trust in the wrong place. That’s why he was so skeptical when the other disciples told him that Jesus was alive. That’s why he doubted.
Isn’t this why you and I sometimes doubt too? Yes, I’ve had a Christian education. I can get an “A” on most Bible quizzes. I’ve been taught to trust God, to trust Jesus. But sometimes I see things, I hear things, I experience things – bad things - and it feels like I have put my trust in the wrong place.