Easter is the time we proclaim a risen Savior who was murdered on a cross, three days later rose from the dead and eventually ascended to the Father for our justification. This is the Good News, moreover it is GREAT NEWS, of the Jesus and it is the only news worthy of declaring this beautiful day! As Christians we not only put all our stock in the fact that Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins but he also rose from the dead. The death of Jesus is essential to our Christian faith. With no resurrection our salvation is not complete. Without the resurrection there is no Gospel (Good News). Without the resurrection our faith is useless and empty (I Cor. 15:14 – 18). Without the resurrection there is no hope for eternal life. (I Peter 1:3). According to Romans 1:4 Jesus was publicly declared to be the Son of God by the Holy Spirit through the resurrection. The resurrection is his declaration of who he is. We now can accept, acknowledge and draw near to God because of the resurrection of Christ. So why is it that so many people have difficulty accepting or believing the resurrection account? Well that isn’t question I can answer in this time together but we can look at one who was one of Jesus’ disciples and even he had some difficulty accepting and believing the savior was resurrected.
John 20:19 – 29)
Thomas sometimes gets a bum rap. He is often criticized for not believing and having to have tangible evidence of the resurrected Christ. I think we sometimes forget that Jesus had appeared to the other disciples and Thomas was not present (had he been there is no doubt he would not have been a doubter) so he had not had the same initial encounter with Jesus. He is told by the other disciples that they had met the risen savior. We read that Thomas was skeptical of their encounter as he demanded to actually see the risen savior with his own eyes, feel his physical body and touch the nail mark in the savior’s and put his hand in his side. In fact he refused to believe the savior was risen! Those are some very strong words spoken and Thomas would soon understand what it means to be humbled before the Lord.
Vs 26 – 28: A week later the disciples were in a room (and the Bible makes a point to tell us the door was locked) and Jesus came and stood in their midst and tells them, “Peace be with you.” He probably did this as a greeting and to alleviate their fear as he startled them.
Jesus then turns to Thomas and addresses his unbelief. He tells Thomas to touch him and to feel his wounds and to see that he is real and alive. I am not sure if he rebukes Thomas but says, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” The NIV read more plainly, “Stop doubting and believe.” My personal take is that Thomas adamantly doubted Jesus’ resurrection. It wasn’t a casual I don’t believe; I think it implies that it was a point of contention between him and the other disciples. They were convinced; he remained unconvinced. Now Jesus stands before him and essentially says, “It’s time to stop doubting and start believing.” Those are very pertinent words and they can speak directly to some of us today.
Thomas’ response is both a faith affirming confession and a public declaration of Jesus’ divinity. Thomas goes from a doubter to a believer as he responds, “My Lord and My God!” We must note that this shouldn’t be read in the context that would equate to our modern response of exasperation or “Oh my gosh!” No, his response is a declaration and confession of his belief. “My Lord and my God” could be translated as “my Master and my God!” This is a public declaration who Thomas believes Jesus to be. According to theologian D.A. Carson, “Thomas’ confession is the climactic exemplification of what it means to honour the Son as the Father is Honoured. It is the crowning display of how human faith has come to recognize the truth set out in the Prologue: “The Word was God…; the Word became flesh…” He continues, “(The thoughtful reader of the Gospel immediately recognizes certain connections) the reader is expected to articulate the same confession, as the next verse implies. John’s readers, like Thomas, need to come to faith; and this is what coming to faith looks like.”[i]
Vs 29: Jesus responds with what could seem like a rebuke. He acknowledges that Thomas believes now because he sees Jesus in the flesh at that moment. He then proceeds to give a blessing or a promise of blessing to those who ultimately believe in Jesus without physically seeing or touching him. Jesus is speaking of you and me. We are truly blessed.
Do You Have Faith?
How many of you have at one time or another doubted the existence of God? How many of you have thought that maybe God didn’t really do what the Bible said He did? How many of you have felt that maybe God doesn’t really care about you or what you do? I think we have all had a doubting Thomas moment. We’ve all had our faith shaken at one time or another. Maybe you are there right now. So how do we get through these faith shaking moments in life? You may ask, “How can I live in full confidence that Jesus is who he said he is and is alive at the right hand of the Father?” One word… FAITH. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 answers this question, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
You may be thinking, “Well, it’s so much easier to trust something that you can see. I can’t see God, so how can I know beyond a shadow of doubt that He is actually there?” Answer, you can’t. That’s why it’s called faith. Can you see air or oxygen you breathe with the naked eye? I can’t, but I know it’s there, I feel the effects of it. We all had faith that when we walked into this building that there would be oxygen to breathe, correct? This is faith! I can’t see God, but I know He is there because I feel the effects of Him in my life and I see the wonder of His creation around me and then I KNOW He is real. Faith is something that cannot be proven otherwise it couldn’t be called faith.
Every Easter morning is such a joy, blessing and comfort to know Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we can live; die and rise again. This truth should give us all hope and desire to live fully for him and to strengthen our faith. I have faith that He died willingly for His children so we may have life and have it abundantly. This is a promise (and I believe God keeps his promises) given to us by the Savior. Jesus is victorious over death and in his victory we too may be victorious in death. Sure, we are all appointed to die at some point in our lives. However as believers in Jesus this death is only temporary and has absolutely no control over us whatsoever. I have complete confidence and faith that this is the truth.
[i] Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel of John p. 659 Grand Rapids, MI: William Eerdmans Publishing Company
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I live in Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with 20 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.