Summary: This is a post-easter message that focusses on the struggle of Thomas to come to terms with the fantastic news of the resurrection of Jesus.
Feast Devotion – March 29, 2016 [This is a short devotion given at an inner-city mission in downtown Toronto, Canada.]
Have you ever told someone something that happened to you and they said: "yeah, right." Have you ever not been trusted when you said something true? How did you feel?
Have you ever been that person that has not trusted what someone else is saying? Have you been the person that demanded more evidence, looked at somebody sideways, look at somebody with skepticism?
Truth is, we've all been on both sides of that coin. We don't like being lied to, and we don't like being accused of not telling the truth.
Now we’ve just come off of Easter Weekend. We met here Friday morning and together remembered the events of Good Friday, the suffering and brutal death of Jesus on the cross.
This was the worst of all terrible days. Why? God who had come to earth in Jesus to bring light and life and peace, to reconcile people to Himself, the people He came to save…they slaughtered Him.
And after Good Friday we have Saturday, a day of depression and gloom and a day when all the people who had followed Jesus were scratching their heads wondering what in the world is happening. This is just the absolute worst.
And then on Sunday we have the news that first spreads from the lips of the women who had followed Jesus. They had gone to His tomb to anoint His dead body and found the massive stone rolled away from the tomb and they encountered Jesus, seeing Him alive.
These women go and tell the other disciples (the women were actually Jesus’ disciples too, just not called that), and they slowly wrap their brains around what the women are saying. Then this happens:
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the religious 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 h5e 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.”
That’s pretty fantastic, but here’s where it gets really interesting:
John 20: 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.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
So here we have Thomas, one of the young man who travelled with Jesus for three years, one of the disciples. He was one of the 12 who knew Jesus very well.
He knew all of the things that Jesus taught, he witnessed the miracles that Jesus performed, but he also knew that Jesus had been falsely accused, falsely tried on trumped up charges, and then executed, crucified on the cross.
He was one of many of the disciples, most of them in fact, who fled the scene. None of them could stand to see Jesus being crucified, and all of them were afraid of being associated with Jesus.
So in this account, the disciples have seen Jesus. Thomas happened to be out, away from the disciples, doing something else. He, like all the disciples, had been devastated the murder of Jesus.
It did not make any sense, and really, his world had come crashing down around him when Jesus died.
So the disciples tell Thomas that they have seen Jesus, that he has risen from the dead. He looks at them sideways. He questions them. He is not buying it one bit.
You see, his friend had died. Many of us have had friends or family members who died. It is a terrible thing to lose someone that you care for, someone who you love.