Faithlife Sermons

Stop Unbelieving and Believe

Eastertide 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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John 20:24–25 ESV
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”
John 20:24-

Introduction

In the Name of the Risen Jesus, Amen.
Recently, I went into a local pizzaria to pick up an order. I had my clerical shirt on. “You a priest?” he uttered. “I’m a Lutheran Pastor”. “Oh, I don’t believe in that shit.” “Do you go to church”, I asked. “We’re catholic, but we don’t go to church. Life is too short.” “Science has proven religion to be wrong. Religion is nothing but a fairy tale.” “OK, so you haven’t been to church in years, and yet you make a judgment about Christianity? How do you know that you’re right”? No answer. “Tell you what. This is Lent, a season of the Church year when there are a lot of opportunities to worship. Why don’t you at least go to your church and see what Christianity is really about?” “I’ll pass”.
It seems that this ancient argument between science and religion, first brought up in the 8th Century B.C. has made a strong comeback among those who are those born since 2000, known as the “Millennials”. The “religion” of science is being furiously taught in our schools today with the underlying satanic conclusion that science is the only thing that can be believed, since it bases everything on proof. And if it’s provable it must certainly must be true. The logical outcome of this syllogism is that anything else, therefore, particularly religion, cannot and must not be true. Ergo, “fairy tale”. Take note of this, because it is one of the strong reasons that the Church does not seem to be reaching the youth of today with the Gospel of Jesus Christ It is a new wall, a new impediment that must be breeched. Praise the Lord that it is the Holy Spirit that does this through our sharing of God’s creative word. All is not lost, though the current climate can be very frustrating.
Such was the case with a young man with whom I had a brief contact not too long ago. I went into the pizzaria to pick up an order. I had may clerical shirt on. “You a priest?” he uttered. “I’m a Lutheran Pastor”. “Oh, I don’t believe in that shit.” “Do you go to church”, I asked. “We’re catholic, but we don’t go to church. Life is too short.” “Science has proven religion to be wrong. Religion is nothing but a fairy tale.” “OK, so you haven’t been to church in years, and yet you make a judgment about Christianity? How do you know that you’re right”? No answer. “Tell you what. This is Lent, a season of the Church year when there are a lot of opportunities to worship. Why don’t you at least go to your church and see what Christianity is really about?” “I’ll pass”.
True science and true religion are extremely complementary. They are not at odds. The problem, of course, is that when science becomes philosophy, or religion turns into something it is not, there will never be agreement. Certainly, one can be a scientist and also be a Christian- some of the greatest scientists that have ever lived embraced the Christian faith, some were even apologists for it!

Enter Thomas

The disciple, who was a Twin, got it wrong. He would have fit in nicely with the zeitgeist of modern education.
The scientific premise is this: Dead people do not come back to life. The disciples said that in his absence they had seen the Lord. The sentence is in conflict. Since it is provable that dead people do not come back to life— something that our own eyes and experience tells us— then the disciples must have been wrong. “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 world has called him “doubting Thomas” ever since.
Scripture is pretty clear that ALL the disciples doubted when they heard the news from the women. Otherwise, why were the disciples locked in a room for fear?
By the way, the Scripture is pretty clear that ALL the disciples doubted when they heard the news from the women. Otherwise, why were the disciples locked in a room for fear?
Mark 16:11 ESV
11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Before they could demand proof, Jesus appears, grants them His peace, and shows them His hands and side. They were overjoyed.
And… like we don’t doubt??....
We know about the resurrection by the witness of the Holy Spirit to our hearts in Scripture. We know what that means. We know that death has been trampled out by death. We know that even if we die, yet shall we live because it was this very Resurrection of Jesus into which each of us has been baptized. And yet, life’s problems seem too big for us. We put our eyes on our own suffering and not on the empty tomb. We are crushed when a loved one dies and though our heads give assent to the resurrection, our hearts do not believe a word of it. We demand Jesus to prove to us that He is risen. Easter has become just another day, and maybe it is better to believe in bunnies and color and then hide eggs.
Paul addresses this:
1 Corinthians 15:12–17 ESV
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:12–14 ESV
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:12-
Our text continues:
John 20:26–28 ESV
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although 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, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:26-
Thomas had to have proof. And even though Jesus could have chided him, He shows up. In that same locked room. And once again He announces His peace— that true peace which can only come when our sins are taken away by Him. He immediately offers Himself to Thomas so that he might believe.
Too. Good. To. Be. True. It is Jesus! My Lord and My God! Alive from the dead. Now what does the scientific mind do with this?
Some people hold that miracles— especially this greatest miracle of rising from the dead— are when the “laws of nature” are set aside and the unexplainable happens. That is our perspective. It is not God’s.
The laws of nature, indeed, nature itself, all fall under the curse of sin. And the curse of sin causes us to see things that are really not true. They are true for us. But they are not what God intended.
Aside from Miracles showing the Divinity of Christ— which they do, do that you might believe, miracles show us how God intended the world to be. A world where man would be perfect, even as we see in Jesus’ perfect, sinless and holy life. A world where all suffering, pain and death do not exist- which we will experience in heaven through this Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Miracles are not the setting aside of the laws of nature; they are the laws of nature bowing to what they were supposed to be. Sin wrecked it all. The cross wrecked sin. And Jesus rose from the dead, bursting out from the tomb, coming alive from death, and showing us what life is truly all about.
Thomas’ problem was not doubt at all. The Greek word used here is apistov UNBELIEF not “doubt”. Stop UNBELIEVING. Stop rejecting the real truth. Stop rejecting Me. Stop listening to your own opinion, start trusting in the Word of God that declares that you too shall rise. So I say to you this day. Stop UNBELIEVING and Believe. For Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of those who sleep, and you are among the harvest to come in on the Last Day.

Aha!

John 20:29–31 ESV
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
: 29
So, Jesus calls those blessed who believe without the benefit of proof. That would be every Christian that follows, right down to today, right down to you and me. Jesus turns around the cliche, “seeing is believing” into “believing is seeing.”
Faith is not rational. It can’t be proven. And if it is, it is not faith. This side of heaven, proof is a bad thing. It turns religion into science. And the end result becomes the same, people believe because it is proven. But that is not the Christian Faith. Because then we are trusting something other than God’s Word. Worse, it leads us to trust ourselves, because we fall back on the proof.
Faith is life. Unless one is born from above He cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven. (The word there is not “born again” as so often wrongly translated). And being born from above means nothing else but that the Holy Spirit has given us faith through God’s Holy Word and blessed Sacraments.
It is this faith that causes us to see. To see that Jesus died and rose for me. To see that in the water of Holy Baptism, I was plunged upon the Cross that was made by me, and upon which My Savior paid my price. It was through this water that I have been regurgitated from the tomb, even as Jonah was spit out of the fish, because death cannot hold someone made holy by Jesus’ blood. It is this faith that causes me to see life, even when standing next to the tombstone of one I love, or the ashes in the urn that I keep close by. It is this faith that makes me declare, “I know that My Redeemer lives!”
It is by this Resurrection, the ultimate miracle of Jesus, that we believe and thus have life in His name. When that life comes to its full fruition in heaven, faith and hope will pass away, for then we shall see face to face our Lord and our God.
He is Risen! Alleluia! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia.
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