Thesis: Faith that requires proof is inferior to faith that does not have to see in order to believe.
1. Illust. I'll never forget the day I was told that I was going to be a father. "You've got to be kidding!" was about all I could say. I was assured that this was no joke--all the proper tests had been conducted and doctors consulted. Slowly disbelief gave way to belief and I began to prepare for the blessed event.
2. Only natural to disbelieve sudden, important announcements ("denial").
a. Death (JFK/Challenger; loved one).
b. Maybe its good news (Just won the Pub. Clearinghouse Sweepstakes)
c. Consider how it must have felt for those disciples who first heard that Jesus had risen from the dead. (turn to John 20)
I. SEEING IS BELIEVING (20:24-25).
A. John, in his gospel, gives us a detailed look at Thomas.
1. Scene prior to raising of Lazarus (11:1-16).
2. Thomas' question at Last Supper (14:1-7).
3. Thomas' challenge (20:25)--"Unless I see ..."
B. There's a little bit of Thomas in every one of us.
1. Thomas is usually not just called Thomas--doubting!
2. If Thomas were an American he'd be from Missouri!; Thomas was a skeptic; "gotta see it to believe it!" (20:25).
3. Illust. We have a powerful need to see. Zachary was less than 1/2 an hour old and my mother was in the recovery room holding him. Little guy was leaning up and craning his neck looking all around so he could see. Commuters complain about the phenomenon of "rubbernecking"--motorists who gawk at accidents or other unusual things along the side of the road --like Dennis Rodman's hair on a billboard in Chicago.
II. JESUS APPEARS TO THOMAS (20:26-28).
A. Thomas believes, but only after he has been offered undeniable proof.
1. In John 20 there are four characters--each one needs more and more proof in order to believe:
a. The "other disciple"--sees folded graveclothes (1-9).
b. Mary Magdalene--hears & sees "gardener" (10-18).
c. Disciples--see Jesus, shown wounds (19-20).
d. Thomas--must actually touch wounds (25b).
2. Is Thomas our example?
a. Does Jesus commend Thomas for his skepticism?
b. Illust. I used to have a sermon on Thomas entitled, "Doubting Thomas" The main idea was that there was nothing wrong with doubt--everyone has it from time to time. In fact, it's kind of noble to admit our doubts. Jesus is patient with us in our doubts, and how noble and honest we are for admitting them! I'll never preach that sermon again!
B. It's a sobering thing to realize that those who doubted the resurrection were not commended by Jesus--they were routinely rebuked!
1. Let's look at another story (Mark 16:9-14).
2. Jesus expected these guys to believe simply on the testimony of those who had seen him alive!
3. He expects the same of us (John 20:29-30).
1. We have a saying that "seeing is believing." That is not true when it comes to Biblical faith. Opposite is true--seeing is not believing!
a. "We walk by faith and not by sight."
b. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb. 11:1).
2. That's what makes faith so difficult--it deals with things we can't see.
a. It goes beyond historical events we didn't see--like resurrection.
b. It takes in other things we can't see--like the future.
c. We don't see the future and we don't know what the future holds.
d. Can you trust your future, which you cannot see, to God? (Don't answer too quickly ... as we stand and sing.)