Summary: God understands our need to know.
Title: Seeing Is Believing?
Text: John 20:19-31
Thesis: God understands our need to know.
The Season of Easter Series: When Jesus Shows Up
During the Season of Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Christ as he shows up in unusual and unexpected ways.
Mable Godfrey lived in a fifth floor apartment on West 130th Street in New York, City. Her cat, Blackie was a good cat, content to lounge around, only occasionally showing any interest in life outside apartment. On Tuesday Mable came home and discovered that Blackie had climbed up the fireplace flue. Mable called the city police, fire, health and building departments in an attempt to get help to rescue Blackie.
When she attempted to coax him down, he climbed on up the flue to where her fireplace flue joined the main chimney - where Blackie promptly fell down the chimney to the ground floor. That was on Thursday.
Shortly thereafter a plumber opened the rear wall back of the chimney and Blackie was taken out. They say, “Curiosity killed the cat.”
Generally when someone says, “Curiosity killed the cat,” they are attempting to stop someone from asking unwanted questions.
St. Augustine wrote in Confessions, AD 397, that, in the eons before creating heaven and earth, God “fashioned hell for the inquisitive.”
People are curious. Remember the old tabloid line, “Inquiring minds want to know?”
There are many mysteries begging to be solved. Why do they spell “lisp” with an “s?” Shouldn’t it be spelled “lithp?” And how do dead bugs get into enclosed light fixtures? And why do we keep the house warm in winter and complain about the heat in summer? And why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
People are not only innately curious, we are also skeptical. We are not all that trusting. We are not easily taken in. If you don’t believe me, just put up a wet paint sign.
Whenever we talk about matters of faith it is not uncommon for people to have questions and some of our questions are rooted in doubt. When we have doubts we would like to receive answers that satisfy our questions. Generally we like to foster an environment where questions and doubts may be expressed with the hope that reasonable answers might be forthcoming.
Patricia Gillespie tells of a Sunday school teacher who once told her that it was wrong to ask questions and have doubts about the Christian faith. “So,” she said, “I asked another question, ‘Is God afraid of my questions and doubts?’” She later came to realized that it was not God who was afraid of her questions and doubts, it was her teacher. (Patricia Gillespie, “A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter, motherflash.com/sermons/range/easter12a5.html. Retrieved October 9, 2006)
In our text today we find the followers of Christ up to their ears in questions and doubt.
I. Seeing is believing
On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when the saw the Lord. John 20:19-20
Jesus was crucified, dead and buried… but that morning Mary and the other Mary had discovered his body was missing from the tomb. And the two Mary’s had hurried to tell the disciples that Jesus was risen from the dead. This morning, we find them holed up in a room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.
Jesus suddenly appeared and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” And when he showed them his hands and his side… they experienced a gigantic mood swing from the depths of melancholy to the heights of being overjoyed.
Seeing is believing. However one of their number was not there when Jesus showed up… seemingly materializing out of thin air, passing ghostlike through locked doors. And when Thomas heard their story he didn’t buy it. Mary and the other Mary had seen Jesus. Now ten of the disciples had seen Jesus. But Thomas wasn’t buying it.
Thomas was doubtful.
II. Doubt is not believing without seeing.
So the other disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:25
Thomas was not unwilling to believe. But he would not believe unless he saw exactly what the others had seen. His doubt was not unlike that of any person who will not believe without seeing for themselves.
On July 28, 2009 the Urban Dictionary Word of the Day was “birther.” According to the Urban Dictionary a birther is a conspiracy theorist who believes that Barack Obama is ineligible for the Presidency of the United States based on any number of claims related to the place of his birth and the existence of legitimate birth certificate. The Online Slang Dictionary simply states that a birther believes Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States and is ineligible to be President of the United States.