Summary: God treats us an individuals and knows our specific needs just as he did with MAry, Peter and Thomas and the unnamed disciples of Jn 20
Story: There were once two identical twins. They were alike in every way but one.
One was a hope-filled optimist, Peter who only ever saw the bright side of life.
The other, Thomas was a dark pessimist, who only ever saw the down side in every situation.
The parents were so worried about the extremes of optimism and pessimism in their boys they took them to the Doctor.
He suggested a plan. “On their next birthday give Thomas a shiny new bike, but give the Peter a pile of manure.”
It seemed a fairly extreme thing to do.
After all the parents had always treated heir boys equally.
But in this instance they decided to try to Doctor’s advice.
So when the twins birthday came round they gave Thomas the most expensive, top of the range, racing bike a child has ever owned.
When he saw the bike his first words were, “I’ll probably crash and break my leg.”
To Peter the optimist they gave a carefully wrapped box of manure.
He opened it, looked puzzled for a moment, then ran outside screaming,
“You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s just gotta be a pony around here somewhere!”
Which are you – the optimist or the pessimist?
Last week I told you of the three post resurrection appearances of Jesus in John 20.
How Jesus appeared to
i) to Mary Magdalene
ii) to all the disciples except Thomas and finally
iii) to Thomas
And in the following Chapter, John 21 we read of Jesus appearing to seven disciples including Peter, James and John, Thomas, Nathanael and two unnamed disciples.
And I explained why I thought the four were important
Because they dealt with barriers that we as Christians will experience at some time in our lives.
1. The first of these barriers to faith was GRIEF
And this was overcome by hearing the voice of Jesus
Mary Magdalene, in last week’s Gospel reading, couldn’t see Jesus for her grief.
It was only when she heard him call her name that she realised that He was risen.
Jesus spoke to her – and by speaking released her from her grief.
There are going to be times when we suffer from grief.
We may grieve for the loss of loved ones.
And it is at times like this that we need to listen for Jesus’ voice calling us.
2. The second of these barriers to faith was FEAR
And this was overcome by experiencing the presence of Jesus
The disciples in today’s Gospel reading were gathered behind closed doors in fear.
Fear of the Jews who crucified Jesus – were they coming for the disciples next?
It was a real fear
Jesus had been crucified – and were they next on the list?
And so Jesus comes to them and speaks words of peace. He showed them his crucified hands and St. John records:
“The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (Jn 20:20)
Fear can cripple us at times. It can make us irrational.
And at those times, we need to seek Jesus’ presence in our lives – and it is His Presence that will bring us peace.
When I get stressed out with worry and fear – I find wonderful comfort in the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls
For my yoke is easy and my burden light." Mt 11:28-30)
3. The third barrier to faith was DOUBT
And this was overcome by the touch of Jesus.
Thomas seems rather unfairly to have had a bad press for the last 2000 years.
His name has even entered into the English language as “Doubting Thomas”.
But you have to remember that Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when they saw Jesus.
He didn’t have the benefit of what they had seen.
He couldn’t believe that Jesus was risen – because it was something outside his experience.
Our faith is not an unreasonable faith. It is based on evidence.
St Peter tells us for example
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Pet 3:15)
God has given us minds and wants us to use them.
Story: In 1943, Dorothy Sayers created a series of dramatic readings from the life of Christ for broadcast on the BBC.
They are published under the title, The Man Born to Be King.
For each of the plays, Sayers offerred notes on the characters and the way they should be read.
She writes this about Thomas' profession: