Summary: We find our cure for our doubts in the love of Christ.
Are you a skeptical person? Do you believe everything you hear, right away? Or does it take awhile before you believe something to be true? The other day I got an email from someone who said that he was my long lost relative. He was trapped somewhere in Nigeria, and needed me to send $5000 to the First Bank of Nigeria. Should I believe that email? Or should I be skeptical? Well, I hope it wasn't my long lost relative, because I deleted it.
Lots of people say lots of things - how much do you believe? How much do you doubt? For almost two thousand years, Christians have been saying that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Do you believe it? A lot of people don't. A lot of people are skeptical. Nothing is sure except death and taxes, people say. But what about the resurrection of Jesus? A Christian would say that nothing is sure but death and taxes and the resurrection from the dead, and all the promises of the Bible. Do you believe that, or do you doubt?
This morning, we're going to look at a part of the Bible where Jesus talks to us about doubt. And we're going to see what the one and only cure for doubt is, as the Bible describes it.
We find the disciples together on Easter night. Now what typically happens at your house on Easter night? At our house, we put the kids to bed, and they are typically exhausted from waking up too early in the morning - 4:45 am to be exact. After everyone goes to bed we spend a little time trying to find all those little pieces of plastic green grass all over the house, and we try to clean things up.
For the disciples in the first century, the atmosphere was a little different. They were locked up in a house. They were probably tired, but more than that, they were afraid. Just a few days ago, they had witnessed Jesus executed, and now people were saying that they saw him alive. And then suddenly, Jesus stood among them. And everyone was overjoyed except for one disciple, and that was Thomas. He wasn't with them that night, and when he came back later and they told him that they saw Jesus alive, he was skeptical.
I won’t believe it, he said. I need to see Jesus with my eyes. I need to touch Jesus’ wounds with my hands. I need physical proof. Otherwise, I won't believe.
Why was Thomas so skeptical? You see, Thomas didn’t want to get burned again. For 3 years, he had followed Jesus and thought he was the Messiah. But then he saw things and heard things that made him feel like something was not right. He saw Jesus arrested, even though he was all-powerful. He saw Jesus tortured and crucified even though Jesus could raise people from the dead. None of this made any sense to Thomas. Everything he saw contradicted what he believed. And he wasn't about to go through that again. He wanted proof.
Have you ever struggled with doubt? Last year I surveyed the students I teach in religion class. The number one thing they wondered about was if they believed the right thing. Is Christianity really the right religion? Are all these things I believe about Jesus really true? The resurrection, eternal life in heaven - sometimes, I have doubts, the students wrote. Do you ever have doubts?
What causes doubt? Thomas doubted because of the trials and troubles he witnessed during Jesus' suffering and death. That still is the number one cause of doubt today - trouble, difficulty, hardship.
It's easy to believe in the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning at church when all things are well, but it's hard to believe when you're in the ER and your child is struggling with health problems. It's easy to believe in Jesus when everyone around you is singing "I know that my Redeemer lives" but it's hard to believe when you're surrounded by people who don’t believe in anything and everyone thinks you're foolish for being a Christian. When difficulties and hardships enter our lives, faith is tested. We struggle with doubts.
On this side of heaven, you can't really avoid it. And the purpose of this sermon is not to teach you how to avoid struggles and doubts. The purpose of this sermon is to teach you what to do when you DO have doubts - what do you do? Where do you go? What is the cure?
During the days of the Bible - the cure was simple - to spend time with the risen Jesus. A week after Thomas doubted, Jesus appeared to him, and forgave him. He showed Thomas his hands and side, the very wounds Jesus received when he paid for Thomas' sins. Stop doubting and believe, Jesus told him. And just like that, Thomas' doubt went away. "My Lord and my God," he told him. Here is the only place in the Bible that someone flat-out calls Jesus my God. No more doubting for Thomas. Someone once said, "Those who doubt most, and yet strive to overcome their doubts, turn out to be some of Christ's strongest disciples." That sounds like Thomas.