No Doubt About It based on John 20:19-31
Easter 2: April 15, 2012
Pastor Richard Mau
Immanuel Lutheran – Des Plaines, IL
Psalm 148 Acts 4:32-35 1 John 1:1-2:2 John 20:19-31
Today’s Gospel is familiar to so many as we focus on Thomas, doubting Thomas. We can be sure that the other disciples and the women, especially Mary Magdalene were most convincing in their reports about having seen the Lord who had risen from the tomb and was now alive. Thomas and all of the others were witnesses of Jesus’ miracles from healing, driving out demons, feeding thousands from one person’s lunch, to walking on water and stilling fierce storms.
But Thomas was not unlike the rest before they saw the Lord themselves. The women left the empty tomb and angels frightened and at first afraid to talk about what they had seen. Luke’s account describes the disciples as frightened and startled even when Jesus appeared to them. They thought they were seeing a spirit [24:37ff]. It was like that night in the boat when Jesus was walking up to them on the water and they thought they were seeing a ghost [Mark 6:29]. Mark records that Jesus rebuked them for their “unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen,” [16:14]. As often as Jesus had predicted his suffering, death and resurrection, they still were in doubt. Their doubting shows in how they were in hiding for fear of further harm to them.
Satan has that way of deceiving people and pulling them away from faith. He puts doubts in our minds as we trust in the gods of empirical evidence and rational thinking in these matters of faith in God’s word. This does not mean that human intelligence and science should be rejected in the common matters of the world. God gives us our intelligence and ability to think rationally and to reason based on human experiences especially in dealing with the issues of day-to-day living. Science and medicine help to understand things such as weather, how to construct airplanes, treat illnesses and the like. Life experiences and studies and surveys help understand patterns of human behavior and expectations. But faith in God’s promises comes through hearing his word in Scripture as the events recorded are there for you to hear, know and believe the empirical evidence of the witnesses God placed in each instance.
In the miracle of God, from creation to the flood to the birth of Isaac to the burning bush to the Exodus to David’s slaying Goliath to the birth of John the Baptist to the miracle of Jesus Christ who is God in human nature, living and dying to pay the price for all sins of all people to the resurrection to God’s final promise, that of eternal life with him in heaven, we live by faith and not by sight. We pray, “…Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” trusting God’s almighty power to accomplish the impossible, to sustain all creation as he does, and to forgive the unforgivable in an unbelievable way and depth. When Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished,” it is. The price for all of your sins is now paid in complete.
Jesus entered the room with the disciples and said, “Peace.” In that one word he was pronouncing forgiveness of their sins of doubt, disbelief and despair. In that one word he was pronouncing what peace is, forgiveness of all sins past, present, and yet to come to all who confess and believe. He then gave the first command of mission to the church sending the disciples out into the world to bring this message of complete peace, the forgiveness of sins and confidence in everlasting life with him. “As the father has sent me, I am sending you.” In this undisclosed room he breathed on them the power to believe. In seven weeks he will send them power to go out boldly and confidently as they will to defy all obstacles to proclaim this holy peace to all people so that you and I today believe and will go out proclaiming to others in the various opportunities God leads each one to.
God gave us Thomas as well as all of the disciples to show the weakness of sinful human nature. He gave us doubters as Abram and Sarai who arranged to have a son through Hagar, Jonah who ran in the opposite direction, Peter who quickly sank after walking on the water and later denied he knew Jesus, Saul (later Paul) not believing the original reports of Jesus Christ the Son of God and Savior of all, and on the list goes. We believe and live in unbelief simultaneously as the man who confessed to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief,” [Mark 9:24] and Mary Magdalene asking where the gardener had hidden Jesus.
With each one God shows his faithfulness, forgiving and restoring no matter how hard the sinner began as with the thief on the cross and with Saul from chief persecutor to be known as Paul, the chief evangelist. God gives us each one to know that his love to each one in Jesus Christ is absolute. That is why the final reminder before receiving the Lord’s Supper is celebrating the peace, rejoicing in the forgiveness that Christ has won and the peace here forgiving each other as he has forgiven.
So when you get up in the morning and look in the mirror you can say, “Hi, Thomas,” to yourself as one who believes, doubts, and believes again, one who has been sought out by Christ himself and restored in the gift of faith in the forgiveness of sins he freely gives each one. You can live every day in God’s graces, confidently knowing that there is no doubt about it.
In Jesus’ undying love. Amen.