Summary: Not seeing is believing
WE LIVE BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT: John 20:19-31
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Have you ever had a moment when you doubted the Word of God? How in the world is this person who is dead going to come back to life again, you wonder, as you go to the funeral. I know what the Bible says, but really, how does that even work? Have you ever doubted? I look at my father who is aging, who is slowing way down in the last few years - it's weird to watch him because I know I'm looking at myself down the road - he's slowing down - and according to the Bible, someday he will be in his twenties again, or something like that, risen from the dead, full of energy, full of health - I look at my dad and I wonder - is that really true? Have you ever doubted? Your prayer goes unanswered, and you doubt that God exists. You suffer, or a loved one suffers, and you doubt that God is good.
Today we're going to talk about doubt - we all struggle with doubt sometimes - we cover it up because we don't want people to look down on us like we are weak - if someone knows that I am doubting - they're going to think I'm a bad Christian, and so we cover it up. But you do doubt sometimes. I do. Let's look at how Jesus deals with our doubts, how he forgives us, how he helps us to live by faith and not by sight.
The poster-boy for doubt in the Bible is Thomas, "Doubting Thomas," and it's easy for us Christians living on this side of the story to look down on Thomas like he is somehow less intelligent, less religious, or less Christian, than you or I. But I don't think that's accurate. Stand in the shoes of Thomas this morning. Perhaps you and I are more like him than we would like to admit.
Thomas missed it on Easter Sunday night when Jesus appeared to his disciples. We don't know where he was or what he was doing, but he missed it. Later, the disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" What the disciples saw wasn't some vision or dream, it wasn't wishful thinking. Against everything they had ever seen or experienced in their lives, this man Jesus who was executed many times over by the Roman government, Jesus was now standing in the middle of them. And just in case they had any doubts that this was real - and I'm sure they did - Jesus showed them his hands and his side. Against all logic, against all science - Jesus was alive. And when the disciples saw Thomas, they told him, "We have seen the Lord."
What would you have thought if you were Thomas - would you have believed? Remember, Thomas saw what happened to Jesus - for those of you who watched the "Passion of the Christ" years ago - that very bloody violent portrayal of the death of Jesus - Thomas saw that live! And it hurt to see Jesus die like that. And when you're hurting, it's hard to believe: "Unless I see," Thomas said. "Unless I touch" - I won't believe it.
Have you ever doubted, like Thomas? Have you ever been asked to walk by faith and not by sight? Your loved one dies, and that hurts. And now you're supposed to believe that he or she is going to rise from the dead? You feel pain in your life, you're confused, and you're worried and upset and you don't know how things are going to work out for you - you're supposed to believe that Jesus is God and that he loves you and that he is watching over your life - have you ever doubted? I need proof, you say, like Thomas. I need a sign from God. You pray and pray and don't get the answers you are hoping for - you want God to show you something, to prove to you that he is real.
But God wants us to walk by faith, and not by sight. Faith is believing in something or someone that goes against everything that makes sense. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ was a human being, through and through, just like you, and that he was God, through and through - the opposite of you - I can't explain that to you. But that's faith. And this Jesus, who was God and man, publicly died on a cross and he was buried, just as dead and buried as the people you have seen in our life that are dead and buried, but then Jesus physically came to life again - I can't explain it to you. But that's faith. And the death and resurrection of Jesus - this is what pays for our sin, this is what gives us the forgiveness of sins - this death and resurrection gives us hope when we see a loved one die, when we think of our own deaths - I can't explain it to you. But that's faith. We walk by faith, and not by sight.