Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus said we who did not see, hear or touch Him, are more blessed that those who did

John 20:19-31

Why we believe what we believe

In Hebrews 11 verse 6 it says:

‘without faith it is impossible to please God,

because anyone who comes to Him

must believe that He exists’.

The writer of John’s Gospel gave us the beautiful words in 3 verse 16:

‘For God so loved the world

that He gave His only-begotten Son,

that whosoever believes in Him

should not perish, but have everlasting life’.

For over a thousand years

Christians who could not read the Bible for themselves,

and relied on priests and popes,

many of whom were corrupt,

were tricked into thinking salvation was only obtainable

for those who bought religious relics,

made religious pilgrimages,

and bought forgiveness certificates.

Then, around 1517, Martin Luther re-discovered the truth of the Gospel,

that sinners, that we, are justified by faith.

It was not Luther’s own teaching; it was 1500 years old!

St Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2 verses 8-9:

that a sinner is justified by faith,

not by works, lest we boast,

or lest we worry that our good works are not good enough.

The key word in Christianity is ‘believe’.

Every verse in the Bible teaches us something,

and John 20 verse 29 is very important,

because here we see the humanity and the honesty of Thomas.

He was no one’s fool; he was not easily conned.

He was possibly a little cynical, and certainly very sceptical.

Someone told him that a dead man had come back to life,

and not unnaturally, he doubted.

He was maybe there when Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead,

and maybe witnessed Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter,

and was maybe also around

when Jesus restored the widow of Nain’s dead son to his mother;

but, he probably thought along the lines:

I saw Jesus perform those miracles,

but I saw him die on the cross,

and I helped to carry his body to Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb,

and I saw the men rolling that big,

heavy stone over the entrance of the tomb,

so that grave robbers and wild animals could not get in.

So, you can imagine his brain ticking over when the disciples tell him:

‘We have seen the Lord’;

how could this be? ? ?

Could the others have had a collective hallucination?

Could their imaginations have been taken over by wishful thinking?

For a week, Thomas may have felt sorry for those poor, deluded,

misguided disciples.

He may have prayed for them to come back to their senses,

back to sad reality.

Maybe he thanked God that he had not been fooled;

thanked God that his feet were firmly on the floor!

Then, a week later, even though the doors were firmly locked,

no possibility of trickery or doubt now,

Jesus appears to the disciples again,

and Thomas is an actual first hand eye witness to this incredible event;

and not only that, but Jesus knows about Thomas’ doubt,

and Thomas’ demand for incontrovertible proof.

Verse 28 seems very mild, considering;

‘Thomas said to Him: “My Lord and my God”.’

I don’t know about you, but if I had been Thomas,

I would be grovelling on the floor,

probably unable or too afraid to speak any words.

The important thing is – he believed the evidence of his own eyes and ears.

No more relying on other people’s experiences,

which – you never know – could be lies or honest mistakes.

Now, Thomas had proof,

had certainty,

had confidence,

and could go out and tell the Good News to others;

and tradition has it that he took the Gospel message to India.

Jesus’ words in John 20 verse 29 were not only for ‘Doubting Thomas’

but for all ‘who have not seen, and yet have believed’.

Notice - according to Jesus WE are more blessed

than the disciples;

WE are more blessed than those first eye witnesses,

because we believe even though we have not seen Jesus with our own eyes,

or heard His voice with our own ears,

or touched Him with our own hands.

Jesus knows all about the forces that work against faith;

the forces of Anti-Christ.

He suffered death at the hands of those forces,

but rose from the dead, defeating them;

because the force of Good is stronger than the force of Evil.

He knows we are surrounded by scepticism, cynicism and doubt.

He knows that we are challenges and mocked by enemies of the Gospel.

He knows all about the Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, Humanists,

Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs

and all the Sects

who do their very best,

or I should say do their worst,

to put down the Gospel

and those who believe in it.

So, the next time we experience doubt,

we should remember that even the disciple Thomas doubted;

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