Jesus Appears to Thomas
1 John 1 :1-2:2
John 20 19-31
Let me try some word association with you this morning.
The amazing Blondin
The laughing (policeman) cavalier
Fantastic Mr Fox
DOUBTING Thomas !
Labelled for all time. Thomas' name since the time of Jesus has been permanently associated with doubt!
Why is this I wonder, when ALL the disciples on hearing that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, had displayed signs of disbelief.
In Mark's gospel, ch 16 verse 11, we read,
'when they heard Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they did not believe it!'
Later in verse 12,we read that Jesus 'appeared to two of them when they were walking in the country, but they did not believe them either!'
And when Jesus appeared to them, he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen! (verse 14)
So why is it that only Thomas was labelled Doubting?
It is thought that Thomas may have been a twin. His name was Didymus, which means twin, so perhaps he wanted to make sure Jesus was the one and only, and not a twin himself or someone like him. It may have been as simple as that.
Could it be that he was given this name because he simply wanted to have VISUAL proof. The proof of actually seeing as well as touching the nailprints in his hands and feet, and the wounds in his side, the five marks of Christ.
But which of us can honestly say they've never wanted proof, that God exists?
Or that the Resurrection did really happen?
Or proof that there is a day of resurrection for us too, one day.
The proof is all around us if we look for it.
First of all we have the written word.
The testimonies of the disciples and scriptures are very definite statements. Over 500 people, as well as the twelve, saw Jesus after he had risen, and they use words such as:-
"This is the disciple who testifies to these things, and who wrote them down. We know his testimony is true!"
We also read in the New Testament, (9-15**our second reading today):-words such as
We've seen it all, we've heard it- we've touched the very word of life, We have experienced him.
We testify to this because we are witnesses. He has appeared to us. We can only tell you what we have seen and heard, so that you also can share with us in believing!
We also have non-Christian sources as proof of Jesus' existence.
A Jew named Josephus wrote of a man known as Jesus, who was a wise man, a doer of wonderful deeds, who was put to death under Pontius Pilate, but who was said to have risen from the dead!
We also have a Roman historian, Tacitus, who tells us about the followers of Christus, who died at the hand of Nero for their faith.
Take for example this book:(They Saw It Happen by CRN Routh
* I wonder if anyone knows where the Great Fire of London started?
It began in a baker's shop in Pudding Lane. We have no problems believing this piece of information, even though the source was an anonymous German writer. It can also be verified by reading famous diaries of the time.
The sources may vary slightly, as do scriptures but no-one doubts that there was a fire in London in 1666. The facts that the accounts do differ slightly and that there are writers of other nationalities writing similar things, adds to its authenticity.
In the same way we can believe the scriptural accounts.
Then, we have proof, in that brave Christian men and women, many of whom witnessed the Resurrection went through unspeakable tortures & sufferings to pass on the truth of what they had seen and heard, rather than renounce their beliefs.
Then there's the proof revealed in archaeology which testifies to the accuracy of the historical documents written by Luke.
The there are the lives of countless people who still testify today of having an experience of Jesus being their Living Lord, also a real Saviour in their distress or bereavement, in their trials, and even in their experiences of dying.
Not all, unfortunately, are given experiences of God. I don't know why. Not all experience healing or comfort.
Not all are able to say, "I believe", perhaps because their pain is too real, or their suffering too acute, or their loss too great, or their vision of war or famine too horrific.
But Christians if they are honest can have their nagging doubts when suffering comes near.
John's record of the words Jesus spoke to Thomas then in that upper room, which were words spoken without reproach, bring hope to each one of us, and to those who are genuinely searching for answers.
"Stop doubting and believe!"
Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.
Must we go down in history, like Doubting Thomas as …….
Or Jaundiced John?
(sorry John I couldn't think of a better one beginning with J)
Or are we able today to reach out more fully, and put our faith in the one who is our "LORD AND OUR GOD and serve him more FAITH ---- FULLY.
Sadly it may be true to say that some people don't see enough faith reflected in the lives of many Christians today. They see pictures and images of Jesus, they see signs and symbols, but no real wounds, no cost to anyone, no life truly surrendered. Is this true?
Perhaps they like Thomas are waiting to see the wounds of Christ,
the five marks on his BODY before they will believe.
(*What would happen, IF WE TOOK FOR OUR PATTERN OF LIVING, THE FAITH spelt out for us in Acts 4, our first reading.
It could be said that it contains in it what could be described as the five wounds or marks of Christ.
A real sense of oneness,
A sharing of possessions,
Power in witnessing to the faith,
Real compassion shown to the needy,
And giving until it is really felt.
(how many of these wounds do we demonstrate?)
Let us pray that we as a church can work towards a way of living that reflects the cross of Christ more closely and real Resurrection living.
Let us come before God, putting our futures into his hands, whatever might befall us, as we worship him, and repeat, "My Lord and my God"