Faithlife Sermons

Br Rd Easter am Thomas - The doubter's creed 2003

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 3 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Thomas: The doubter’s creed

John 20 v28

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In the resurrection narratives Jesus did not leave Peter without redress and restoration – the last chapter of this gospel witnesses to that; neither did He leave Thomas in his anguish and doubt.

The wonder of Christ’s grace is revealed in this REPETITION of His resurrection appearance – so that Thomas might believe.   That is the purpose of this gospel (v31) – and it is the heart of the work of Christ.

In revisiting this familiar narrative I want us to consider :

    The roots of Thomas’ doubt

    The remedy for Thomas’ doubt

and

    The reality of his faith

A.  The Roots of Thomas’ Doubt

Like Peter, Thomas had once been outspoken about his allegiance to Jesus:

In the story of Lazarus in chapter 11 it was Thomas who suggested that the disciples go with Jesus and die with Him –

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”   CHAPTER 11

Alexander Whyte suggests that Thomas was of a melancholic disposition – I’m not sure about that – but I do know that Thomas saw the entry into Jerusalem as full of darkness and ominous brooding.  Perhaps he understood better than the others the dark days that lay ahead?

And when Jesus spoke to His disciples of the WAY he was going to Calvary in Chapter 14 it was Thomas who said:

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would knowa my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”    CHAPTER 14

We are grateful to Thomas for his comment because it provides such a wonderful reply!

The roots of Thomas’ doubt lie then in a natural pessimism of disposition – or at least a mixture of pessimism and uncertainty, a mixture of enthusiasm to follow Jesus and a short sightedness regarding His true purpose.

Thomas represents us well so far!

But the IMMEDIATE cause of his doubt in the Easter narrative before us is to be seen in his reaction to the other disciples’ claim that they had seen the risen Lord:

25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

The immediate cause of his outburst lies less in his disposition and more in his circumstances:

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.

It has been a constant matter of speculation “Why?”  And Scripture is silent about the reason  - and truly the reason matters not – what matters is that “he was not there”

The others, for all their fear, doubt and distress were TOGETHER

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

They were TOGETHER and Thomas was NOT WITH THEM

Sometimes our doubts are rooted in absence from the fellowship and support of other believers.

The Christian community supports it’s members by mutual burden bearing and care. If we miss the fellowship of believers we miss that supportive mechanism as well.

Thomas was not there – he missed more than that first glimpse of the risen Saviour, he missed the interaction of the others.

B.  The Remedy for his Doubt

The remedy for Thomas’ doubt – like the remedy for our own – is an encounter with the risen Jesus.

In the same way that Chapter 21 is an account of the Lord restoring Peter by His resurrection appearance – so is 20 24-29 the restoring of Thomas.

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In His sovereign grace, Christ comes when Thomas is present and as graciously as before shows him his hands and his side.

In all of this Jesus did Himself address the root causes of Thomas’ doubt and offered him a remedy:

    Thomas was there

    Thomas was addressed by name

    Thomas was instructed to change

    He was there

Had they persuaded him?

Had they suggested to Thomas that Jesus might come back?

Whose influence amongst the others had been effective?

I do not know the circumstances – but I do know this, had he not been there again he would not have experienced that restoring work.

Perhaps Thomas had recognised that – for all his bluster and all the conditions he attached to believing that he had set out as a cure for his doubt – he really did want to see the risen Christ.

Perhaps he had decided: Although I will not believe, I will be there in case He comes?

Whatever …

HE WAS THERE

You and I have our doubts as well.   We may not doubt the reality of Christ’s resurrection – but we have other fences to jump in our spiritual race.

But we do not expect to see the risen Christ this side of glory.

We may even have argued our corner as Thomas did, rationalising our doubts, setting out “conditions” for compliance with the will of our Lord.

Perhaps like Thomas we have a darker sort of outlook

We may not understand the plan of the Lord but

WE CAN BE THERE

We can seek out fellowship with other believers: share their testimonies along with their misgivings too.

In many ways it would not be easy for Thomas. Once you have stayed away it can be difficult to go back.  But unless we go back to the place of fellowship and community with God’s people we may – indeed will miss the blessing.

    Thomas was addressed by name

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”                 26,27

Jesus addressed Thomas at the point of his need.

To that extent He graciously accepted Thomas’ conditions – or so it seems at first…

The Lord knows that Thomas has so forcefully expressed his doubts

He invites him to do what he said he would have to do before he would believe –

BUT it seems certain that Thomas did not need to do so.

The voice and presence of his Lord was enough.

    Thomas was instructed to change

Stop doubting and believe

Literally : don’t be faithless – believe

Together with the invitation to explore the living presence of Jesus these words provide the REMEDY FORR DOUBT

It IS me – I AM alive

Stop doubting (ME) BELIEVE

But in conclusion we ask “What did Thomas believe?”

C.  The Reality of his Faith

A CREED FOR DOUBTERS

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

What did Thomas believe?

    That this Man with the wounds in His hands and side is indeed the LORD

    That He lives – who died for him

o       Faith is the response of the sinner to the presence of Christ

o       Faith is the response of the penitent to the invitation of Christ

o       Faith is the statement of the believer that glorifies His Lord

You can see these at work in Thomas as he:

        Replies to the Lord

        Says plainly:  “My Lord and My God”

It is a RESPONSE

It is a STATEMENT OF FAITH

It is a witness

Thomas’ simple creed is the answer provoked by God from the doubting soul when confronted with the reality of Easter Day

CHRIST IS RISEN               He is risen indeed!

Whereas Thomas had earlier laid out conditions for his believing – the presence and gracious invitation of the Living Lord sets those aside – and Thomas utters what must be the simplest and most profound of early Christian creeds

MY LORD AND MY GOD

It is of course a work of the Spirit

It is an act of WORSHIP

It is acutely PERSONAL   “MY Lord   MY God”

It is focussed in Jesus

Jesus goes on in His words to Thomas to

Affirm his faith   

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

And to promise us who come later a special blessing.

The Easter narratives are marked by FEAR and DOUBT

They do not minimise the problems that the disciples experienced in coming to terms with our Lord’s death and resurrection.

In the case of Thomas whose doubting was conspicuous and who had missed so much because of disposition and absence – Christ provoked in him an intensely personal and dynamic faith.

And through Thomas brought a special promise to those who came later and had not seen.

My Lord and My God.

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Related Media
Related Sermons