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Second Sunday of Easter

April 28, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 20:19–20:31

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 20:19-31
Date: April 28, 2019; Easter 2; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • In our Gospel lesson for this morning we heard that the disciples were hiding behind locked doors, filled with fear.
  • This is understandable.
  • Jesus had just been arrested, tortured, and crucified.
  • As his disciples, his followers, it’s not ridiculous to think that they were next.
  • Suddenly, Jesus entered the room and stood among them.
  • He spoke the words that the disciples needed to hear the most, “Peace be with you!”
  • Jesus then sent his disciples to proclaim the Good News of his resurrection, the Good News that we are reconciled to God and we have victory over sin and death.
  • He sent them with the authority to forgive the sins of anyone who repents and to withhold forgiveness from those who do not.
  • One of the disciples, Thomas, wasn’t with them when all of this happened - so they told him the incredible news that they had seen the Lord!
  • But, Thomas responded, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
  • And because of this response, he has become known as “doubting Thomas” - even though the text we heard from John’s Gospel never used the word “doubt”.
  • No one, including Jesus, said that Thomas doubted. 
  • Doubt wasn’t Thomas’ problem.  Unbelief was. 
  • And so Jesus doesn’t say, “Thomas, stop doubting.” 
  • He says, “Thomas stop disbelieving and believe. 
  • There is a difference.
  • Doubt happens for a variety of reasons. You hear about something that is contrary to your experience and everything you know, and so naturally you’re going to doubt. 
  • When people first suggested that the earth we stand on isn’t flat but spherical, there were doubters. 
  • It sure looks flat, doesn’t it?  Especially here in Saskatchewan! 
  • So, short of some really hard evidence to the contrary, a round earth is a pretty hard sell. 
  • When Copernicus did the math and suggested that the earth actually orbited around the sun, there were doubters.  It seemed ridiculous. 
  • From our vantage point - the sun, moon, and stars all seem to move across the sky.
  • So an orbiting earth was a pretty hard sell at the time.
  • Whenever you encounter something outside of your range of experience - doubt is natural. 
  • We’re wired to see patterns, and when there is a break in the pattern, our minds automatically wonder, “Is that right? Did I see that correctly? Are you sure?”
  • It’s quite understandable that Thomas didn’t believe the disciples when they told him that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead.
  • Could they be sure it was actually him? 
  • Maybe it was an imposter.  Maybe it was a figment of their imaginations. 
  • So, Thomas proposes a little scientific test for their claim that they had seen Jesus. 
  • “Show me. Let me touch his wounds. Let me place my hand in his side. Without this hard evidence I will never believe.
  • Fair enough.
  • Seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds would indicate that this really was the risen Lord - not just an imposter or a trick of some sort.
  • But, what’s missing here is the Word. 
  • Thomas had forgotten the words of Jesus.  And so did the other disciples.
  • He told them that he would die and on the third day rise. 
  • He spelled it out for them plainly.
  • They spent three years with Jesus. They saw him walk on water.  They witnessed him turn water into wine and miraculously heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits. 
  • They heard what Jesus said - and still they didn’t believe him. 
  • The problem wasn’t that they were skeptical or doubtful - but they were unbelieving.
  • And it’s good that the gospel writers included the disciple’s doubts - because they then speak to our doubts.
  • Whenever you deal with things unseen, it’s natural to have doubts. 
  • So, for those of us who have not seen or touched Jesus and his wounds - it’s natural to have doubts.
  • But, we are not left to deal with our doubts on our own.  
  • Jesus addresses our doubts and provides all that we need so that we are among those whom he describes as, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
  • We have no wounds to see and touch - but we do have the water of our Holy Baptism.  
  • We have the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.
  • We have his Word - and that is enough for faith.  
  • “Faith comes by hearing” - not by seeing, not by investigating, not by experimentation. 
  • Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ.
  • It’s interesting to note that Jesus actually did offer Thomas what he asked for - He said to him, “Put your finger here in my hands; put your hand here in my side.”
  • But Thomas didn’t take him up on it.  
  • Instead, it was Jesus’ words, “Do not disbelieve, but believe” that led Thomas to confess, “My Lord and my God!"
  • Thomas never touched the wounds. He didn’t have to touch them. 
  • You don’t have to see or touch Jesus to believe - you have to hear Jesus to believe. 
  • “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
  • Seeing is not believing. 
  • If we saw Jesus standing here this morning, we would still have to believe that our sins are forgiven because of him, that he has conquered our death by his death, that we have life in his name. 
  • Just seeing him would do nothing to quiet that restless, guilty conscience of ours. 
  • But, hearing God’s Word that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” does.
  • Just seeing Jesus wouldn’t remove our fear of death.
  • But hearing God’s Word that, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” does. 
  • God’s Word is what makes faith happen. 
  • Jesus knew what Thomas needed to believe – his wounds and his words. 
  • Jesus also knows what we need to believe. 
  • He has given us the signs in our Baptism, in his Holy Supper, in his Word. 
  • St. John graciously recorded the signs that Jesus did, so that hearing God’s Word, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God - and that by believing, we have life in his name.
  • Thanks be to God!  Amen.
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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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