Summary: Facing the real, faith challenging situations of life, how can we proceed in the face of doubt? Watch, as Jesus works with Thomas. Consider how we can respond to doubt in our lives.
Made New -
In The Midst Of Reality
John 20: 19-31
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
Some years ago there was a financial institution which sought to draw potential investors by calling itself "Guaranteed Trust." In a world of financial risks and uncertainties that’s a smart move. Nothing appeals more to the cautious majority than the reassurance that its little nest egg is locked away in rock-solid security.
But guess what. As we all discover sooner or later, there really is no such thing as rock-solid security.
Scan the Yellow Pages today and you won’t find a listing for Guaranteed Trust. So much for security.
The old saw says, "The only thing certain are death and taxes."
We’ve all heard that. And experienced it:
- in once secure jobs being downsized or declared redundant
- in dreams of golden years and active retirement evaporating into endless trips to the doctor and a constant blanket of pain
- in a bliss-coated honeymoon exploding into a messy divorce
Every found anything on which you’d bet the family farm?
Like the fellow who said to me, "Pastor, I’ve become kind of cynical. Every time things start to go good I begin to look over my shoulder. There’s probably a mack truck of some sort roaring right at me."
Can you identify with that, some?
Ever find yourself getting cynical - maybe a bit; maybe a lot?
Something secure, for sure? I doubt it!
THE DOUBT OF THOMAS
If you can appreciate that, perhaps you can better understand Thomas’ posture in that upper room:
arms crossed, eyebrows twitching, mouth pulled tight.
"If you want me to believe this, you’ve got to prove it."
I mean, he’d trailed Jesus for three years, pinning all his political and religious hopes on this man who claimed to be Messiah. He was a determined fanatic - ready to die with Messiah Master Jesus. In John 11 we hear him talk to his buddies as Jesus was preparing to go into a dangerous area where wanted posters with his face on it were plastered on every corner. "Let’s go with him, so that we can die together."
But now - well, he’d seen his hopes whipped, publicly humiliated and nailed to a cross. He’d seen the tomb closed, seal put on it, and fierce Roman guards blocking any access.
The curtain had fallen.
The only thing for sure is.... death.....
So no wonder he clams up. Bible tells us that he wasn’t with the others when Jesus appeared to them. Perhaps he was like some of us when we’re really hurting. Needing a bit of space to clear his head and shed a few tears.
And then when they begin to crowd his turf with crazy stories about some amazing bailout, rescuing his demolished hopes from the scrap heap,
well, hey -
Would you react much differently than he did?
Would you, after the painful, emotional events of that Friday?
Would you jump right back in with both feet after your carefully constructed hopes and dreams and plans of the last years had been cruelly dashed?
What do they say? "Once burned, twice shy."
CHRIST’S GENTLE RESPONSE
And how does Jesus deal with his doubt? Does he come down hard? Get angry? Give a lecture? Leave in disgust and frustration?
What does the Bible say?
He approaches Thomas on his level. Spends time with him and his other buddies who in their own way also wrestled with disbelief about the impossible becoming reality -- a dead person coming back to life.
In fact, Jesus spends 40 days just going around helping His friends come to terms with and overcome doubts about this incredibly great event of history -- His resurrection from the dead, His victory over the powers of death.
And in the course of that time He gently rebuilds their trust, showing them a certainty not just IN death, but BEYOND it;
Certainty in a powerful, eternally-risen and living Christ who remains committed to His people forever; a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God.
A trust that leads to a whole, secure eternal life for all who can get beyond doubt, go out on a limb, and pin their hopes for life and beyond in Jesus.
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
It’s OK for Thomas to need reassurance. And there is a whole, certain, eternal life awaiting him. Blessed are those who are willing to take an extra step and believe without having to personally stick their fingers and hands into the body of Christ.
That’s folks like you and I.
Can you make that step and accept that which gave Thomas such a rough ride - that Jesus suffered, died, was buried and yet rose again?