Summary: A rumor of a risen savior, and an empty tomb was not enough to convince.
Recently, the news has been captivated with the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral. There are thousands that are grieving the loss of many artifacts and history telling items. The cathedral was a celebrated icon, for what it contained inside, which is now lost. The greatest medieval cathedral that stood the ravages of war, conquest, and fires for 800+ years, was no match for the flame that took it down. This is simply a prophetic look into the eventual fate of all earthly treasures. Our treasures should not be on earth, but in heaven. On easter, we focus on a tomb, not for whats on the inside, but rather, what IS NOT on the inside. And we celebrate a risen savior !!
(read John 20:19-29)
Today, as we read this passage, notice
1) The doubt.
In our reading, we find Thomas. As long as I've heard this story, he has been called "doubting Thomas." That's how we refer to him. However, as we read some of the scriptures surrounding this story, we recognize that it wasn't just Thomas that was doubting. Many of the people were struggling with the very same doubt. But Jesus appeared to them. Thomas was one of the last to truly find out. In my own confession, I cant say that I would be any different than Thomas. He was affected by what he saw. What he knew. What he felt. His anger, disappointment and hurt was certainly weighing on him, and he was certainly struggling. When these emotions are evident in our lives, and circrumstance that are less than joyful, we tend to build walls. With all that happened, Thomas was not quick to take the hope that was being offered him. I think i can see myself in the reflection of Thomas.
2) The Message.
As Jesus showed himself to the disciples, he said "peace be unto you." It seems of little detail, but notice, it was precisely what they needed. They needed peace amongst their hurting and fearful hearts. They were "infused" with a holy message. The gospel, was instantaneously shared to their hearts. The requirement was for them to share this message of hope and forgiveness. We understand that man has no power to forgive sins. Lets not misinterpret John 20:23. The forgiveness was through Jesus, the message was to be through the disciples. And that message was simply this, you can be forgiven of your sins through Jesus Christ. They shared as much to Thomas. CHRIST IS RISEN. JESUS IS HERE
3) The Decision
Thomas gives somewhat of a startiling response. "I will not believe." He had set his heart. Unless, he was able to feel the wounds. I say startling response, because we expect him to jump in the pool of faith right then and there at the hearing of the news. But news just wasn't enough. Are you any different ? We certainly have put some expectations on our Lord, in order for us to be convinced of, 1) His will 2) His love 3)His reality
4) The Mercy Given
So Thomas made a grievous statement. "I will not believe...unless." What if Jesus has left it at that. What if he allowed Thomas to go away sorrowful ? It would certainly be a different feel to this scripture. But Jesus, who is rich in mercy, shows himself, and offers the message of peace. As he turns to Thomas, he offers the "unless" part of Thomas' statement. He didn't have to. But He did. God offered me mercy that he didn't have to offer. He has offered you mercy, that he didn't have to offer. He did because he loves us.
5)The Change of Heart
Mercy is seat of forgiveness. It truly encapsulates forgiveness. Its why forgiveness exists. To have mercy. One has said that "Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve, and grace is getting what we don't deserve. " Jesus offered Thomas mercy to his life, enabling Thomas to believe. "My Lord and my God. " There is much to that statement. But let us remind ourselves, that Jesus is looking to bring reality to your faith. It wont be through a physical appearance as he did with Thomas. But His mercy is evident. It continues to be evident. Will you respond to His mercy? He leaves a promise to each one of us. "Blessed are those that believe and have not seen." That's you and me this morning. Let us bow and say, "My Lord and my God," and give ourselves to him as a living sacrifice. !!
Happy Easter and may God bless you