Theme: Seeing is believing?
Readings: Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 Acts 5:27-32
John 20:19-31 Ps 150Collect:
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father.
The story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ is one that many of us can identify with.
We can understand his refusal to believe unless he saw the risen Christ for himself, and was able to prove to his own satisfaction that what he saw was flesh and blood rather than imagination or spirit. We would love to be in a similar position, when we could verify Christ’s resurrection for ourselves. However, Jesus encourages us in his words, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ We will only see the resurrected Jesus when we meet him physically, after our own death or at his second coming; but we can believe here and now, and Jesus pronounces a special blessing on us for doing so.
Our faith in Jesus is not blind faith. It is reasonable, based on good evidence. The evidence for the resurrection is contained within the four gospels. The accounts all differ in details, which shows that the writers had a lot of material to choose from – accounts they had heard from those who claimed to be eye-witnesses. Three of the accounts were written within the life-times of those present at the events described (John’s gospel may have been written shortly afterwards). The claim that Jesus rose from the dead was the bedrock of the new movement: friend and foe alike would say that if Jesus had not risen from the dead, faith in him was in vain (see 1 Corinthians 15:14). If the accounts were works of fiction, it would have been an easy matter for enemies of the movement (of whom there were many) to denounce them. But they could not; the best they could do was to say that the disciples had removed the body.
Two undeniable facts back up the accounts. The first is the absence of Jesus’ body. Nobody in the first centuries AD doubted that Jesus had been crucified under Pontius Pilate, had died, and was buried. Modern theories that he had merely swooned , then revived, moved the stone, and fooled his disciples are just not credible. The claim of Islam that he was never crucified is equally incredible. The second fact is the transformation of the disciples from frightened sceptics to brave ambassadors for Christ, ready to die for him and to spread the news of his resurrection around the world. Unlikely and impossible as it may seem, the best explanation for the evidence is that Jesus died on the Friday and was resurrected the following Sunday.
Our faith in Jesus is not simply faith in facts. It is trust in a living Person, who has promised to be with us always. The climax to John’s gospel is Thomas’ response to Jesus: ‘My Lord and my God.’ It is one thing to say, ‘Jesus is Lord and God.’ That is just a statement. To say that Jesus is ‘My Lord and my God’ is quite another thing. The devil knows the truth about Jesus, but is a devil still. If we believe Jesus is Lord and God, that will not help us unless we take him to be our own Lord and God. Let us believe, and be blessed!
1) Are there any areas of your life in which Jesus is not Lord? Is that OK?
2) What might full commitment cost?