Summary: What makes us any different than "Doubting" Thomas? Nothing we are all simul iustes et peccator--simulataneous a saint and a sinner. But God can and does grow our faith.
No Doubts About Jesus
Stephen H. Becker, M.Div.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church—Elk Grove, CA
Sunday, March 30th, 2008—2nd Sunday of Easter
Evening Contemporary Worship Service Sermon
Did everyone here tonight have a nice Easter last week? You know with all of the events of the Lenten season and then Holy Week leading up to Easter, it seems like its been ages since we have all been together, doesn’t it? Well in fact for me, if you throw in a trip to Indiana, to go back to the seminary to continue work on my doctorate, it has been four weeks since I’ve been here worshipping with you all on Sunday night.
You know, one of the things I love most about children is to believe. Now, I don’t think children have any greater ability to believe than adults, but I think what sets the children apart from adults, is that children doubt less than adults. In other words we grown ups let our doubts cloud our ability to believe. In our lesson tonight we read of a glorious resurrection event of the Lord Jesus, where the Lord, after His death and after His resurrection, presents Himself to most of the Twelve who had gathered. Unfortunately, Thomas wasn’t there. And unfortunately Thomas’ absence from this wonderful gathering set of a chain of events that gave him a title that even now, 2,000 years ago, he just can’t seem to shake: the title of doubting Thomas. We read of Thomas’ hardheaded skepticism—doubt—kept him from believing that Jesus could live. But through these events, Thomas learned an amazing lesson. Tonight, after we pray, let’s see if it’s possible for us to be rid of our doubt so that we can believe more. Let’s open now with prayer…
You know I think that often it’s easy for us “modern” folk—who live 2,000 years removed from the resurrection of Jesus, to look down upon those poor folk who lived with Jesus and doubting what they actually saw with their own eyes. I mean, we have a Bible that tells us all about the Lord and the events leading up to His death and resurrection. Many of us learned about it as we went through the confirmation classes. We have Luther’s Catechism that teaches us about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have the creeds that tell us all about them. We’ve heard preachers preach on the subject for years. So, yeah, we can understand how those poor folk, who never had these wonderful learning tools, might have doubted Jesus. it’s easy to do, isn’t it? Well, tonight as we look at the lesson of doubting Thomas, I want you keep a question in your mind. What is it that sets us apart from these early Christians when it comes to doubting Jesus’ work on the cross for us? Remember, many of these early Christians were eye witnesses to these events. So yeah, they didn’t have our Bible, but they saw Jesus’ miracles, some of them saw Him crucified, and many others witnessed His resurrection with their own eyes! What makes us different or better than they? Why can’t we believe like the kids do?
I’m going to start with myself. This past week, last Tuesday to be exact, I went through a horrible experience, one that really helped me to see the doubt that is within me: an IRS tax audit. Now, friends, yes, it might sound funny, but let me tell, for the past few weeks I have been dreading that date, March 25th, like if I was going in for surgery. In fact, did you know in a national poll, when asked whether they would rather go through an IRS tax audit or whether they’d rather have a root canal, well you can guess what the preferred answer was. But why is that? Why did I doubt? Why do I doubt? I mean, I knew I had a tax professional prepare my returns for years now. I knew I didn’t do anything wrong. I knew that as a Christian, God would be with me before, during and after this event, and yet I was petrified of having some stranger go through all of my financial papers and documents that I had collected throughout the years. I think down deep I was convinced that the auditor’s #1 goal was to strip me of every dime I had and put me into prison. I doubted! Now ironically, the tax auditor found a few errors that the accountant had made that were, in fact, in my favor, where they owed me more money. She also found a few that were against me. But ultimately, we settled the matter and now it’s behind me. But I doubted. What is it that makes me—or you—any different than Thomas?