Summary: Blessed are those who believe without seeing. John 20:29
Title: What about Us Non-See-ers?
Text: John 20:19-31
Thesis: “Blessed are those who believe without seeing...” John 20:29
I’ve never been the brightest bulb in the room or the sharpest knife in the drawer. In grade school I did fine but excelled in recess and lunch. When I was in high school I excelled in having fun and athletics. There were some classes that I liked and did well in… I like courses where I could think and explore ideas and write essays. But I rather disliked things like memorizing the Periodic Table. Consequently my guidance counselor thought maybe I should pursue a meaningful career serving my country. I am well aware that had I followed his advice I would be retired and enjoying my government pension and perhaps be a double dipper working for the United States Postal Service.
But that was not what I did. I had had an encounter with Jesus and believing changed everything.
In Luke 6 we read of how Jesus spent a night praying. The next morning he called all of this followers and from among them he chose twelve to be his disciples. Among them was a man named Thomas.
St. Thomas was born in 1st Century Galilee. As I said before, he was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. When he first heard of Jesus’ resurrection, he questioned it, earning him the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” However, the Gospel of John tells us that when he saw the risen Christ, face to face, he proclaimed Jesus as “My Lord and my God!”
His encounter with the risen Christ was transforming in his life as it was in the lives of all the disciples. Thomas traveled beyond the borders of the Roman Empire to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead on the third day, who ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit and has promised to come again . Historically we know that traveled to Syria and Persia – present day Iran, and he spent time on both the southwest and southeast coasts of India where many churches were established. He died there and was buried in India. His bones were later moved to the Church of St. Thomas in Rome.
It seems that says quite a lot about the transformation that took place in his life after seeing the risen Christ. Believing changes everything. It changed everything for the other disciples and it changed everything for Thomas. Hopefully believing changes everything for us as well.
I. Fear to Joy
The disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid… suddenly Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. John 20:19-20
It peaked my interest when a student asked me about zombies while we were talking about the resurrection of the dead. It was a serious question. There seems to be a zombie renaissance of late.
I’ve seen and I have very little knowledge of zombies because I refuse to watch that kind of stuff. Zombies and zombie entertainment do quite fall into that “whatsoever things are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable” guideline for things we let our minds fixate on. In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul concluded this concluded his teaching on what we think about by saying, “Put into practice all you learned and received from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” I learned from experience a long time ago that a person can lose a lot of sleep worrying about stuff that does not exist.
A year ago the Miami Herald ran a column, “Fear, anxiety drive zombie craze.” In the article the reporter noted that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an official reassurance: no zombie apocalypse. The CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead”
It was Sunday evening. On Friday Jesus had been crucified and buried. On Sunday morning they discovered his body was missing from the tomb. Later Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and asked that she tell the disciples he would be ascending to the Father in Heaven. Mary had raced to tell the disciples. However, our text finds the disciples hiding behind locked doors. If the Jewish leaders had gotten Jesus crucified then what might they do to them? They were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders. They feared for their lives. And as we all know, when you are living in fear of anything… you do not sleep well.
It was into this room filled with people huddled behind a locked door and fearing for their lives that the post-resurrection Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be with you.” Jesus was no reanimated cadaver. He was no lurching zombie. The sight of the risen Christ and the sound of the voice of the risen Christ dispelled all their fears and they were filled with joy.