Now You Understand
|Now You UnderstandEaster Sermon 2008Matt Mantooth|
|AbstractThis sermon looks at the thoughts of Doubting Thomas, as we struggle in a similar way to understand the truths of the gospel, especially how much Christ loves us.|
Last week we discovered that Jesus Christ was indeed the promised King, and that He was even a greater King than His followers had understood. It was their misunderstanding, which lead them to ask the question: Is this the King?
We can see that even after some of the disciples saw that Jesus had arose from the grave, that according to John 20:9,
“They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”
Today, we will take a peak into the heart and mind of another man, a follower and friend of Jesus, a man who loved Jesus, but a man who had a difficult time understanding.
This man, we know today as Doubting Thomas.
In college I had this Professor. The man displayed Christ’s love for his people better than anyone I had ever met.
However, in class whenever I, or anyone else, would ask a question, the man would go on and on answering the question, often he would seemingly make the entire class even more confused.
Then after about 15 to 20 minutes he would come back to me, look me in the eye, and say, Oh Mr. Mantooth, Now you understand?
But I didn’t understand!
Now, at this point we will depart from the story, because it is at this point where we find Mr. Thomas, after he hears about the resurrection of his friend Jesus Christ.
It is here we learn about this, Doubting Thomas.
Lets take a moment, and look into his life.
Lets Read in John 20:24-31
Most of us, I believe can identify with Thomas, probably a lot more than we would really like to admit. Thomas is one of those men who is not easily convinced.
To Him seeing is believing, and unless you have proof you might as well not bother trying to persuade Him.
In fact, at this point, it probably would have been easier for the disciples to convince Him that Jesus, His friend, was a liar and not who He said He was, because the proof was there, Jesus was dead, and for Israel nothing had changed.
So when the disciples come to Thomas and say,
“We have seen the Lord!”
I think most of us can understand what is going through Thomas’ head.
“Get real guys, I saw Him die on that cross.”
“You may have thought you saw Him, but you must have been seeing things, because our friend died guys. Face the facts, he’s dead”,
but it was now Thomas who didn’t understand.
Thomas couldn’t understand, because Thomas was a doubter.
A glass is half empty kind of guy.
He’s the kind of guy who when he is asked to change, would say you show me that your way works, and then I might think about changing. Give me proof, and hen I will believe.
Because of all of this Thomas responds, “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.”
So now after the disciples explained to Thomas that they saw Jesus, and then looked him in the eye, and said Oh Mr. Thomas, now You understand He has risen.
Thomas replies no friends, I don’t understand, and I won’t unless I see it for myself.
But there is more to this story, so much more.
Just a week later the disciples including Thomas were hanging out in the house, when Jesus himself somehow comes through a locked door and stands among them.
He looks towards Thomas, looks him in the eye, with these deeply loving, compassionate, and kind eyes and says,
“Peace be with you Thomas.
Put your finger here;
see my hands.
Reach out your hand Thomas and put it in my side.
Stop doubting Thomas and believe.
Now, Mr. Thomas, Now you Understand.
Thomas looks at his friend and says, “My Lord and my God.”
In other words, now that I have seen you, I finally understand Jesus, and I believe that you are My Lord and My God.”
After my Professor’s explanation, and the ever feared, “Oh Mr. Mantooth, Now you Understand.”
All I could say at this point, was yes. Though at the time I was actually just more confused.
However, as I told you before this Professor had a way of displaying a Christ like love.
He would walk up to people om campus and put his arm around them, and genuinely ask about their life. He would invite students to his home to eat meals with him, and his many adopted Ugandan daughters.
And now looking back years later, I do understand. I now understand more of what he taught me than any other professor, not because of the explanation, but rather it was His love that helped me truly understand, and now I do understand.
But do you? Do you understand? Or are you still struggling like Thomas?
James Boice, in a sermon, calls this passage the climax to the gospel. Jesus has already died and has risen to conquer death once and for all, and now it is here that Jesus reaches down to Thomas at his most needful point, to help him understand how much Jesus truly cares about Thomas.
Friends our Jesus comes to us the same way. Sure Jesus isn’t physically present with us today, but He does meet us at our greatest need. Like this little girl in the song by John Michael Montgomery. The songs says,
Her parents never took the young girl to church
Never spoke of His name
Never read her His word
Two non-believers walking lost in this world
Took their baby with them
What a sad little girl
Her daddy drank all day and mommy did drugs
Never wanted to play
Or give kisses and hugs
She'd watch the TV and sit there on the couch
While her mom fell asleep
And her daddy went out
And the drinking and the fighting
Just got worse every night
Behind their couch she'd be hiding
Oh, what a sad little life
And like it always does, the bad just got worse
With every slap and every curse
Until her daddy in a drunk rage one night
Used a gun on her mom and then took his life
And some people from the city took the girl far away
To a new mom and dad
And kisses and hugs everyday
Her first day of Sunday school the teacher walked in
And a small little girl
Stared at a picture of Him
The girl said I know that man up there on that cross
I don't know His name
But I know He got off
He was there in my old house
And held me close to His side
As I hid there behind our couch
The night that my parents died
Jesus met that girl behind the couch, where she was in the most need. Jesus gave her a new life, and she understood.
Jesus met me, when I felt empty, and I was tired of running away, he brought me to my knees, and came to me in the midst of my tears. I received his love and his mercy, and most of all I received a new life.
Jesus died for our sins, and He arose so that we could have new life. All we have to do is believe.
Now, We Understand.