23 April 2017
“I demand evidence!”
Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Thomas had enough! Of this secrecy! James and John. Had met with Jesus - in secret - Asking to be seated. One at His left and the other at his right. The Council. Had met - in secret - To obtain an arrest and a secure a conviction. They had met - in secret - With Pilate. To secure the tomb. With a watch and a seal.
And now. After all this. His so called “friends” had come up with this fabricated story - of Jesus suddenly appearing before them. “I don’t buy it! I don’t believe it…Unless I see with my eyes the marks of How wounds and place my finger in his hands and my hands at His side I will not believe it!”
1. Like Thomas we do not have an eye-witness experience of the risen Christ.
Why wasn’t Thomas present with the rest on the night Jesus appeared? What are we to make concerning his absence? The Scriptures are silent. We really don’t know.
We could speculate, I suppose. Possibly he had simply given up. Checked out. And moved on. All Thomas knew was the mere fact that Jesus was dead. What more could be said? So why remain with the other disciples? Why continue on? He had invested three whole years of his life following Jesus. And his devotion was noteworthy. When He learned that Lazarus was sick Jesus told His disciples they were going to Judea. It was Thomas who had said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." – John 11:16
Possibly he was distracted. Investing and involving his time in some other activity so he wouldn’t have to concentrate on the present reality – an empty tomb. Maybe it was simply out of necessity that Thomas just needed some space. To process in his mind what had just taken place. Maybe he needed a time out. To figure out on his own what he would do next. Possibly he simply needed to be left alone and suffer in silence.
Perhaps something deeper is going on here. After all, Thomas had been invited by Jesus to be an apostle. John gives us eight references to Thomas as a disciple of Jesus. He was chosen and appointed by the Lord Jesus to be one of His followers. Jesus had said, "No longer do I call you servants . . . but I have called you friends." -John 15:15
So, if Thomas is to be numbered with the rest of the apostles. And if they had experienced firsthand the risen Christ. Why not Thomas also? He too wanted to have the same experience as the rest… to see with his own eyes the marks of His wounds… and to place his finger in His hands and put his hands at His side. Maybe he simply wanted to be treated as the rest. If they had been witnessed of the Lord’s resurrection. Why not Thomas?
So, what about you? How do you make sense of all this? The resurrection happened some 2,000 years ago. We do not have the experience of seeing Jesus with our own eyes. The resurrection happened in time and space. But not in our time. Can you have faith without witnessing Jesus Christ alive from the dead? And if so…how?
Transition: Like Thomas we have not personally witnessed Jesus Christ alive from the dead. The Easter proclamation is powerful beyond comprehension.
2. The message of the Resurrection is incomprehensible.
Dead men do NOT come back to life again. Thomas had been there. He personally witnessed the crown of thorns. The nails. The spear. He knew Jesus had died. He had witnessed Jesus’ burial. He knew of the safeguards the Elders had arranged with Pilate. A tomb sealed. And the guard which was posted.
If Jesus were alive He would have to appear before Thomas just as He had to the rest of the disciples. That is, if he were to be considered a legitimate apostle. He would have to witness the marks of Jesus’ Passion. These scars and visible marks on Jesus’ body would let him know that the same Jesus who had died by crucifixion was in fact alive. Those true tokens of Christ’s passion. Thomas would have to be witness. A counterfeit Christ would not do.
What convincing proof does this world need to believe in the resurrection? The claim is still true. Today, 2,000 years later – dead men do not rise. Faith calls for us to trust in the testimony of those eyewitnesses. John, in his first epistle, would later write, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.” 1 John 1:1
Transition: Thomas’ life was literally changed once he became an eyewitness of Jesus bodily raised from the dead.
3. Seeing is believing.
Upon witnessing Jesus’ appearance. Thomas changed from a skeptic to a believer. These visible scars now become the marks of faith. All speculation of what might have happened were now gone. Thomas too became an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection.
We have today the testimony of these early eyewitnesses. The testimony of Scripture is undeniable. The testimony of these eyewitnesses remained consistent. Starting in Jerusalem, spreading throughout the world, the testimony of those first eyewitnesses remains constant. “We are witnesses of these events.”
The Savior’s words to Thomas are meant for your ears this day. “Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen!” Lord, grant us such a faith as this! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Passive Sentences –10%
Reading Level – 4.9
Image of St. Thomas the Apostle found at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Caravaggio_incredulity.jpg