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Saturday, 07 April 2018

April 8, 2018

Thomas - Easter 2

Thomas – Easter 2

April 8, 2018

John 20:19-31

 

I had a very negative opinion of Thomas for a long time.  I’d heard him called “Doubting Thomas”.  The story I heard is the one we have today.  Jesus appears to the other ten disciples while Thomas is gone.  (Judas is out of the picture.)  When the other disciples tell Thomas about what they had seen, he won’t believe them.

 

Come on!  They were his friends.  They had been together for three or four years.  How could Thomas not believe them when their news was so good?

 

My opinion of Thomas has changed for three reasons.  One reason is I believe we need more people like Thomas.  We need more people who want to make sure something is true before they believe the information . . . and share it.

 

I do use Facebook. It can help do some wonderful things.  People use it to share their joys and sorrows.  There are things I want to know, especially as a pastor who cares about people, which sometimes I only learn on Facebook.  And Facebook gives me a channel to contact people and join in their times of celebration or their pain.

 

On the other hand, I read and see some things on Facebook I really don’t want to read and see.  I’ll let your mind do what it wants with that.  The other thing is that I read and see people share things that I know are not true.  I could expand on this, but this is what I want you know; if you’re my Facebook Friend (or even if you’re not) do not share anything that you are not sure is 100% true!!!  Check out the sources and make sure they are legitimate.  If you have any doubts, leave the information alone.  Just so you know, I’m not going to start posting angry faces on articles I know are not completely true . . . but I’m thinking about it!

 

Doubting is not always a bad thing. Bravery is a good thing. The more I’ve learned about Thomas, the more I believe he was a very brave man.

 

One reason I think Thomas was brave is something that happened in a lesson a few weeks ago.  Jesus was told that his friend Lazarus was very sick and he told his disciples he was going to Bethany to see him.  Bethany, the hometown on Lazarus, was very near to Jerusalem and the last time Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem powerful people had threatened to have Jesus killed.  Thomas said to his fellow followers, “Let us go with him so that we may also die with him.”  Thomas was ready to put his life on the line to follow Jesus, at least at that time.

 

In our lesson today, 10 of the disciples, and probably some other followers, are huddled, filled with fear,  in a locked room in Jerusalem.  They’re afraid they’ll be arrested and perhaps executed like Jesus had been.  Thomas was not there.  Thomas had the courage to leave the room and be out in the world.

Jesus meant a lot to Thomas.  I think he wanted to believe that Jesus was alive, but he didn’t want to believe it and then find out it was not true.  He didn’t want his hopes to be crushed.

 

There are people like Thomas in our world today.  They hear the story of Jesus.  They see people who believe the story of Jesus.  But they’re afraid to believe and then be fooled and find out the good news of forgiveness, life and never ending love is not true.

 

This brings us to the final reason I admire Thomas; once he believed he was totally committed.  A week after his first appearance, Jesus appears to the disciples again and this time Thomas is there.  Thomas had said that he would only believe if he himself could see the mark of the nails and put his finger in the mark of the nails and put his hand in the hole the spear that had pierced his side had left. Jesus offered Thomas the opportunity to do just that, but Thomas didn’t take him up on it.  Just seeing and hearing Jesus was enough for Thomas.  He confessed his faith in the resurrected Jesus.  He said, “My Lord and my God.”

 

But that wasn’t the end of it. Thomas, like the other disciples, went out into the world to tell the story.  Thomas, and the other disciples, went out into the world to share the Good News of Jesus in word and deed.  Tradition and some evidence have it that Thomas went as far as India to share the Gospel and that he was killed for doing it.  ALL the disciples, except of John, were killed for sharing the Gospel and John died in a prison on a rocky island for sharing his faith.

 

I don’t know about you, but that helps me believe that their faith in Jesus must have been based on solid evidence.  Do you know what else helps me to believe that this story of Jesus is real?  None of his followers had any personal gain from being faithful.  They fed hungry people, cared for orphans and widows, spoke to everyone, rich and poor, telling them about the forgiveness, life and love we have because of the risen Lord Jesus.

 

And it’s continued through the centuries.  There are hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, food pantries, and all kinds of programs to help others that exist because people believe today that Christ is risen and his love can and needs to be shared. 

 

And I believe that is what can help turn the doubts of others into faith.  People won’t be convinced that Jesus lives because Christians try to take power and control.  People will be changed because Christians live like Jesus, giving up power and control, to focus on love and care.

 

Gatorade once had an advertising campaign featuring basketball player Michael Jordan.  Do you remember the slogan? “Be like Mike.” Today I’d like to suggest we “Be like Thomas.”  We can value the truth and share only what we know to be true.  And we can be brave.  We can share the love of the one who lived, died and rose again to give forgiveness, and life and life to all people.  We can show our commitment to the risen Lord by what we say.  Even better, we can show our commitment by what we do.

 

And, just to be clear, Jesus did not come alive because Thomas believed.  Thomas came alive because he believed.  Jesus is not alive because we believe.  We come alive because we believe. 

 

Christ is risen! AMEN