Summary: A message that tries to connect the dots in Thomas' experience of moving from doubt to faith in Christ after the Resurrection.
I want to extend a special welcome to those here today who have questions, who have doubts about some or all of the things that have gone on so far in today’s gathering.
You see, most of what happens in a worship service, at any church, is really for the already-convinced. We sing songs that strongly affirm the reality of God, the goodness of God.
But for someone who is not convinced, a worship service can be a weird place to be. We can feel like an outsider, a bit like an alien on a planet with people whose language we barely understand.
So today’s message is in part for those who, like myself at one point, were very seriously unconvinced about anything to do with the Christian faith.
And the point of this message is not to convince you or convict you - that’s the job of the Holy Spirit of God. The point of this message is to show, through the experience of a fellow who knew Jesus personally, a bit of the process of doubting and how sometimes doubt can move beyond itself, and in so doing can lead to important discoveries and a new way of living.
And I think Thomas, ‘Doubting Thomas’ as he is sometimes referred to, is a good person to consider when we think about looking at faith from the outside. He’s a good fella to spend time with when we’re struggling with what we believe, if we believe, how much we believe and what does it matter if I believe or not.
So...can we spend time with a man who for a time was unconvinced? Can we spend time with Thomas? Let’s do that.
Family...We’ve just been through Easter, of course...Resurrection Sunday. And today’s passage follows the events of that first resurrection day 2000-odd years ago.
Now, we looked at this passage last week as Pastor Lee gave an excellent message on “Awaiting Our Orders” from Jesus. But to frame the time we’re going to spend with Thomas today, let’s begin at verse 19 of chapter 20 of the Gospel of St. John.
This passage records the event right after Mary discovered the empty tomb where Jesus had lain, and after Peter and John witnessed as well the absence of Jesus from the tomb. Let’s begin our reading in verse 19 of the 20th chapter of John.
John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “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.”
Now the first thing I notice about Thomas in today’s reading so far is...where’s Thomas...he is nowhere to be found...when Jesus appears to His disciples. Thomas is nowhere to be found.
Something is amiss. One of the disciples is missing. Thomas had always been with the disciples. Even though we don’t hear much from Thomas during the public ministry of Jesus, he was always to be found with Jesus, always located with his Rabbi.
And he had always been honest with the rest of the disciples and with Jesus.
There’s a moment recorded in John chapter 14 when Jesus is comforting and encouraging the disciples after He has just spoken of His coming death;
when Jesus talks about preparing a place in His father’s house for believers and then says: “You know the way to the place where I am going”.
I can imagine the disciples sitting around Jesus on that day, all of them completely clueless about what Jesus was talking about, some of them thinking to themselves - ‘I should probably look like I know the answer to that question”. Awkward pause. And then out of the silence Thomas pipes up: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Thank God for Thomas. If he hadn’t asked that question, we might never have heard Jesus’ answer. And what was His answer?: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”