Thomas

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Sermon Date: 
1 May 2011
Bible Base: 
John 20: 19-end
Preacher: 

David Jeans

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I’ve always thought it unfair to think of Thomas as ‘doubting Thomas’. I think of him as ‘reality check’ Thomas. Always checking things out – but ready to follow the truth wherever it would lead. I’m sure that for Thomas faith was not about having no doubts or questions or worries or misunderstandings – it was about trusting the person who was calling you and then following in obedience to what he said. Thomas’ faith led to obedience – and that is the sort of faith our Lord wants from us. The faith that is prepared to say I don’t always understand what God is doing, but I love him and trust him and I will follow him anywhere, whatever the cost might be.
 
So – here is what Thomas himself might have said
 
It all started for me in those early days of Jesus’ ministry. When he said to me ‘follow me’ – that’s what I did. I don’t really remember why – for once I didn’t ask any questions about where to or what was going to happen. There was something about Jesus that when he said ‘follow’ – I just followed.
 
Those were exciting times – we never knew what was going to happen next. Especially when Jesus sent us out in twos to heal the sick and cast out demons. I kept on asking him questions – what do we do if they are not healed, how will we explain that to people. He just smiled at me and said ‘Just get on with it and leave all that to me’. I’ve never been very good at just getting on with it – I always think too much and ask too many questions!
 
As Jesus’ ministry continued it became clearer and clearer that the people with the power weren’t really listening to him. They were so tied up with their religious certainties and their own status that they would not let him unsettle them. He said to me once ‘I’d rather have someone like you with all your doubts and questionings, because in the end your mind is open and I can reach you – that lot think that they know it all and have nothing new to learn or experience – I can’t get anywhere near them’.
 
The more simple disciples couldn’t see it of course – they were all for going to Jerusalem because they thought that Jesus would win over the people and triumph over the religious leaders. I knew of course that that was wishful thinking – but then I always did think too much. Mind you, even though I knew Jesus was heading for certain death – because I listened to what he actually said instead of what I wanted him to say – I would have followed him anywhere. I didn’t know why – then- but I remember saying ‘Let us go with him that we may die with him’.
 
I was right of course; the religious leaders were always going to win the political battles. Trumped up charges, the works – though I’m sure Jesus could have got out of it if he’d wanted to. Those were awful days – I can’t really bring myself to think about them now. Like the rest I ran away in the garden and only saw the beginning of the crucifixion from a distance before sneaking away. I couldn’t stand it – and I couldn’t understand it. How could they do that to him; and why didn’t he try to stop them? Why hadn’t God done something? Why do the wicked always seem to get away with it? As usual I was full of questions – but no answers. I just went out into the hills on my own and walked and pondered and wept.
 
I don’t really know what happened to that time. By the time I had got my head together again a couple of days had gone by. The only place I could think of going was the house where we’d had the Passover meal the night before Jesus died. I needed company – and they were the only company I could think of!
 
Well, when I got there I thought I’d gone into a madhouse. They were all so high – full of stories about Jesus being alive again and how he’d just appeared to them. It seemed like nonsense to me. He was dead – it was all over – that was all there was to it. I thought to myself – what have these gullible idiots come up with now? Why can’t they think for themselves rather than believing all this nonsense? Anyway, I told them what I thought – in too strong words really viewing it from where I am now. ‘I won’t believe it unless I can feel the nail marks in his hands and the wounds in his side’.
 
That’s what I said – and then I stormed off never wanting to see them again. Back to the hills I went – back to my walking and questioning. I couldn’t believe what they were telling me – and yet they’d been very close to me for 3 years. I loved them. Even if I did think they didn’t ask enough questions and accepted things too easily. In the end I thought I’d go back to them. I missed their love and friendship – and maybe I’d be able to help them to adjust to the trauma of losing Jesus, and maybe they’d be able to help me too.
 
They were still high when I met them – just laughed at my barbed humour about what wonders they had seen this week. And then it happened – Jesus suddenly was there! He’d not come through the door – I’d locked it myself to protect us from the authorities. I’m still trying to work out what happened – what sort of body had he got now? And where did he go between appearances if he hadn’t ascended yet? The others just laugh at me and say ‘Thomas, why can’t you just accept it?’ but you know what I’m like!
 
Anyway, there Jesus was – He greeted everyone and said ‘Peace be with you’. Then he looked at me – to be honest I don’t know what he said – I’m told he invited me to touch his wounds like I’d said the week before. I just looked and looked – and then all sorts of things went through my mind. As I looked at his wounds I remembered that passage he was always looking at:-
‘He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed’
- and somehow I knew that his death had bought my forgiveness; that somehow his death was in my place. I still don’t really understand it – but I know it’s true.
 
Then I remembered what he said to me and Philip at that last meal we had. I asked him how we could know the way and he said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’; and Philip said ‘show us the Father’ – and he said ‘he who has seen me has seen the Father.’
 
And suddenly it clicked – suddenly I knew what he was saying. All my life I had tried to think my way to understanding God and what he was like. Now I know that as I looked at Jesus – with all his wounds and the love in his eyes – as I looked at Jesus, I was somehow looking at God. So I just fell down at his feet and said ‘My Lord and my God’.
 
And he just accepted it – He accepted it! If you’re not Jewish you won’t appreciate how mind-boggling that was – but he accepted my worship!
 
Now I’m still full of questions – and he’s said that’s OK. I mean – how was he with us and sustaining the Universe all the time? Did he always know that he was God? Why did he need to be filled with the Holy Spirit if he was the Son of God? How did he decide which people to heal? Lots of questions – but now I know that the important truth is personal. It’s him – he is the truth, and the way and the life. He’s certainly my life from now on. He said on that Sunday evening ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Right then I knew that’s why my life would be about telling those that haven’t seen Jesus about him – so that they might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing they may have life – the life that I’ve found for myself – have you found it yet? It’s to be found in Jesus himself – don’t worry about all your questions – just look at the risen Lord with the wounds in his hands and side – and see in him your Lord and your God who has dealt with your sins and promises you life for ever with him.