Summary: When Thomas says, “I will not believe what he is really saying is I want to believe I just have a different set of criteria than the one you are offering me.
INTRODUCTION: Nobody likes to be perceived as being naive or gullible.
- My experince at RAF Greenham Common
- Having sailors stand the Mail Buoy Watch
- Sending my brother to get a can of dehydrated water.
When Thomas says, “I will not believe what he is really saying is I want to believe I just have a different set of criteria than the one you are offering me. I want to trust you. I want to believe you, but what you are asking of me is requiring more than my rational experience can handle right now - I need more time and I need more evidence.”
The goal of this message is for people to see the love God has for us even in our doubts. God revealed Himself to Thomas because He loves Thomas. And He loves you also.
1. You are not a weak Christian if you doubt.
a. Go to the tomb - Where do you need to go to see and believe?
b. See with your own eyes. - Don’t you wish life was really that simple? Just go and see. Go to the tomb and see for yourself.
c. What happens when people come to our church looking for something to believe in? What do we show them? Do we
demonstrate evidence that the tomb is empty?
2. You are not naive or gullible if you demand/require more evidence.
Thomas asks - “Do you take me for a fool?” The disciples had had an experience with Jesus. Thomas had not had that
- How do you share your experience with someone who has never had that experience?
- What do you suppose would have happened to Thomas if Jesus had not appeared to him? I believe over time the actions
of the disciples would have persuaded Thomas to believe that they really did experience the resurrected Jesus. I believe
the same is true today. Family, friends, co-workers, observers may not have that personal encounter with Jesus like some
of us did, but over time because of the lifestyle that you lived they will come to believe that you really did experience the
3. Have you noticed how powerless the church seems these days? I raised the question with several pastors this past week - How is it that Fort Pierce has over 96 churches in such a small community and yet we have one of the highest crime rates in the country, over 22% of our children will not graduate from High School and over 25% still live in poverty? If I were considering Christianity in Fort Pierce I would have to ask - Where is the power? Where is this guy who rose from the dead? Cuz what I am seeing around here does not seem very powerful.
Thomas was in effect saying - “Listen if Jesus rose from the grave then what are we doing behind these locked doors. What are we afraid of? Flora Wuellner writes in “The Spirit of the Disciplines” - "The church has become an organization of well-meaning idealists, working for Christ but far from His presence and power.” (p.22).
What was Thomas’ hang-up?
He believed with all of his heart, soul and mind that Jesus was a fully human person. He had a body just like him. He had spent three years with Jesus. He had observed everything about Jesus. He had seen the miracles He did as a human being. Thomas, like everyone else had hoped to one day be able to do exactly everything Jesus had accomplished, but then He died, just like a human being. Now if he is alive then what He accomplished is not because He was a human being who was going to teach others how to connect with the Father. He was able to accomplish what he was able to accomplish because He was God and therefore He had an unfair advantage.
When Thomas says, “Unless I see the hands, the feet and the side…I will not believe!” he is making a very powerful theological statement, it is not a statement of doubt. Thomas is saying, there is no power if Jesus were not fully human. Jesus cheated if He was always God disguised in a human body. He tricked us. He set us up to believe we could do the impossible, when we never could because we are not God. No unless I see the hands and feet I will not believe. I need to see the humanity of Jesus before I can believe the divinity of Jesus. I will not believe what you are telling me until I see that Jesus was fully human all that time He was with us."
Thomas believed he had seen the humanity of Jesus for 3 years. He had witnessed the suffering and agony of Jesus in the crucifixion. It appeared so real to him. He needed to know that that was not just some special effects, some stunt. He needed to know it was for real.