SERMON Doubting Thomas - March 15, 2015

Doubting Thomas

Bible Reading:  John 14:1-7

Text Reading:  John 20: 19-29

The message this morning is about the Apostle Thomas, most people would classify him as a late bloomer. He was a commercial fisherman, he grew up around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came to Capernaum, calls him, and he follows. For three years Thomas follows our Lord. But the poor old guy was a pessimist. Some people will see their glass half full, but Thomas always saw his glass half empty. Once when Jesus and his disciples hear about their friend Lazarus’s death near Jerusalem, which was the center of Jesus’ opposition, Thomas comments darkly, “Yes, let’s all go there so that we might die with Him, meaning Jesus”. Thomas later sees his Master arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and he runs for his life. On Good Friday he watches at a distance as they spike his friend to a cross, and as Jesus’ life drains away, so does Thomas’s hope.

On Saturday he is in shock. On Sunday he is so disillusioned that he doesn’t gather with his fellow apostles for an evening meal. Thomas is dazed, hurt, bitter, and lashing out. Monday morning the disciples go looking for Thomas to tell him what has happened in his absence. When they found him, this is what they said to him.  “Thomas, we were in that upper room where we’d been meeting. We locked the doors for protection.

Yet, all of a sudden, Jesus appeared.  “Peace, Shalom” he said. Then he showed us his hands. Where the nails hadbeen. He pulled back his tunic and showed us where the spear penetrated his chest. But he wasn’t weak or sick or dying. He is live, raised from the dead.” And Thomas said, “I don’t believe it.  I don’t believe a word of it.  Jesus is dead.” Peter pleads with him, “Thomas, I saw him myself, I tell you, and he was as real as you are.” Thomas is cold, with an edge in his voice that cuts like ice, and says to Peter, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

The following Sunday, after the resurrection, (which is why I’m speaking on Thomas today) The apostles were eating in the same locked room as they were the week before, Easter Sunday. Suddenly, Jesus stands among them once again and speaks.  “Shalom, peace be with you”. And Jesus turned to Thomas and spoke plainly, without any hint of disappointment or sarcasm, and said, “Put your finger here, see my hands.  And Jesus held out his scarred hands for him to examine.

Thomas begins to sob, and Jesus reached out and puts a hand on his shoulder.  Thomas slips to his knees and says in awe, “MY LORD AND MY GOD.” Thomas, DOUBTING THOMAS, as he is sometimes called, is the first apostle to put into words the truth that Jesus is both Lord and God.  DOUBTING THOMAS utters the greatest confession of faith recorded anywhere in the Bible. Jesus replies, “because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.”

So what happens to Thomas. Well, Doubting Thomas does not stay a doubter. When he sees the risen Jesus, all that Jesus has taught over the years now clicks in and to his death Thomas is an outspoken advocate for his Lord. Church tradition tells us that he preached in ancient Babylon, near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, where Iraq is today.

He traveled to Persia, present day Iran and continued to win disciples to the Christian faith. Thomas finally traveled to the east-coast of India preaching relentlessly, and is killed about 72 AD. Tradition tells us that he was thrown into a pit, then pierced through with a spear. He who had so fervently proclaimed his unbelief carried the Christian message of love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth in his generation.

Thomas still speaks to us doubters today telling his very own story of how Jesus’ life had intercepted his own. In our world, we at times, like Thomas, find it hard to trust in the unbelievable.  We sometimes doubt that God is in control. And don’t most of us tend to walk with cautious steps?

We like Thomas find it hard to believe that God can do the impossible. We often make the same mistake that Thomas made, we forget that impossible is what God is all about.

Thomas said he would believe if he could have just a little proof. And Jesus, who is ever so patient with our doubting, gave Thomas exactly what he requested. He extended his hand for Thomas to see. And with a radiant, joyful face, Thomas the Apostle touched our Lord and said, those now famous words, “My Lord and my God”. Our Lord continues to extend his hand to us, through His Holy Spirit.

No, none of us sitting here this morning ever saw our Lord, and we can’t say that we ever walked with our Lord, but what we can share with others on this 4th Sunday in lent is our experience of the living Jesus in our lives. The words and stories from our Bible can and will point us in the right direction. But, it is the experience of Jesus in our personal lives that allows US to believe without seeing.

What we at BEUP can say is I BELIEVE, THEREFORE I SEE. I BELIEVE, THEREFORE I SEE.

 

Praise be to God.     Amen

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