Summary: Jesus helps troubled and doubting people. He helps us too.
Are you a skeptical person? Do you believe everything you hear, right away? Or does it take awhile before you believe something to be true? The other day I got an email from someone who said that they were my long lost relative. They were trapped somewhere in Nigeria, and needed me to send $5000 to the First Bank of Nigeria. Should I believe that email? Or should I be skeptical? Well, I hope it wasn't my long lost relative, because I deleted it.
A few months ago I received a postcard in the mail telling me that I could go to the Caribbean for free - this big postcard with a beautiful picture of a beach on it. Should I believe that postcard? There was some small print on the postcard about how the airfare wasn't free, and the hotel really wasn't free either.
Lots of people say lots of things - how much do you believe? How much do you doubt? For almost two thousand years, Christians have been saying that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Do you believe it? A lot of people don't. A lot of people are skeptical - this is just another scam - the church just wants your money, just like everyone else. Is the resurrection of Jesus real? Maybe you believe it now. But will you believe it 20 years from now, 40 years from now. Could there be anything that happens in your life that would cause you to change your mind?
This morning, we're going to look at a part of the Bible where doubt is discussed. Even those disciples, faced with the risen Jesus on Easter night, struggled with doubt, just like we do today. We're gong to look at that, and see what the one and only cure for doubt is, as the Bible describes it. May God bless you with a firm belief in Jesus now, and throughout your whole life, as we study the Scripture together.
What typically happens at your house on Easter night? At our house, we put the kids to bed, and they are typically exhausted from waking up too early and eating too much candy throughout the day. Then we spend time finding all those little pieces of plastic green grass all over the house, and we try to clean things up.
For the disciples in the first century, the atmosphere was a little different. They were locked up in a house. They were afraid. Just a few days ago, they had witnessed Jesus executed, and now people were saying that he was alive. And then suddenly, Jesus stood among them. And the Bible says that they were startled and afraid. They thought they were looking at a ghost, the Bible says. Back in those days it was more common to believe in such things as ghosts and spirits.
Jesus asked them why they were so troubled. "And why do doubts rise in your minds?" Jesus could read them like an open book - he could see that they were doubting that he was really alive and standing in front of them.
Why were the disciples so skeptical? You see, they did not want to get burned again. For 3 years, they had followed Jesus and thought he was the Messiah. They believed! But then they saw things and heard things that made them feel like something was not right. They saw Jesus arrested, even though he was all-powerful. They saw Jesus tortured and shouted at by the crowds, and crucified, even though Jesus was God and could walk on water and calm storms. They saw Jesus die and get buried, even though Jesus could raise people from the dead. None of this made any sense to them. Everything they saw contradicted their beliefs. And they weren't about to go through that again. That's why the were so skeptical.
Isn’t that why you and I sometimes doubt about what we believe? Last year I surveyed the students I teach in religion class. The number one thing they wondered about was if they believed the right thing. Is Christianity really the right religion? Are all these things I believe about Jesus really true? Sometimes, I have doubts, the students wrote. Do you ever have doubts?
What is the one thing that might cause you to doubt what you believe. It's trouble, isn't it? Real trouble that comes into your life. Did you realize that this is the number one objection to Christianity? A non-Christian will say, "The reason I am skeptical about Christianity is because of all the evil, all the trouble, I see in the world. How could God let that happen?
How could God let that happen? Your child is diagnosed with cancer. Someone dies that's not supposed to die. I just a student in my office the other day - his dad went to bed and never woke up. How could God let that happen? Have you ever had a moment in your life when you doubted the love of God? People fall away from God all the time - why? Because something bad happened.