Monday, October 11, 2010

A Belief Despite Doubt (Praising the one we have not seen...)

Does anyone like Zombie movies?  I do.  There is nothing like seeing a zombie movie.  Especially the really cheesy ones.  They are just so…lame!  I mean you don’t go for the plot, you go to have a good time and laugh at the campy-ness of it.

So why do I bring up Zombie movies?  Well, what makes a Zombie a Zombie?  This is something that you need to know in the instance of a Zombie Apocalypse.  To be a zombie means that you were bitten or that you were dead.  Now, I’m not saying that Jesus was a zombie, but what I am wanting to share is an interaction with a disciple after Jesus’ resurrection.   Something that just doesn’t happen.

(John 20:24-29 NIV)  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."

There are those who are like Thomas.  They seek proof.  Thomas is no different.  He loved Jesus.  He sought after Jesus.  He was with the remnant.  Just like them:

Trying to figure out:





There were stories about people seeing Jesus.  He had heard what John had said, what Peter and the Mary’s had said.  He had heard the accounts of others who had met and walked with Jesus.  Yet he had missed these opportunities.

He sought proof.

Proof that this was real.

Proof that this was genuine.

Proof that would validate him.  That the commitment he made was worth it. 

Max Lucado, in No Wonder They Call Him The Savior, says the following:

On the one hand, the idea of a resurrected Jesus was too farfetched for dogmatic Thomas.  His limited creativity left little room for magic or razzle dazzle.  Besides, he wasn’t about to set himself up to be disappointed again.  One disappointment was enough, thank you.  Yet, on the other hand, his loyalty made him yearn to believe.  AS long as there was the slimmest thread of hope, he wanted to be counted in.[1]

The same proof that John the Baptist sought.  Matthew 11:1-6 (NIV)
(11:1)  After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. (2)  When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples (3)  to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (4)  Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: (5)  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. (6)  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
John needed to know that what he was experiencing was true.  That this is genuine and Christ gives him validity of proof.

They both needed validity in what they were experiencing.   When Jesus says to Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.” He is not condemning him or reprimanding him. 

Jesus is giving him proof.  Proof that this is genuine.  Thomas doesn’t just believe based upon what others said.  He bases it on his own experience.  Thomas sought to know that the stories were true The fact that he saw Jesus himself.  So many times we base decisions on what other people tell us to do.

When Jesus says “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” It is like he is saying it is harder for those who come later, because they will not have the physical proof.  Their experience will have to come from faith.

So what is the point of this?  Why does this matter?  Maybe for you, you are seeking.  You have been looking for what is real.  A guy by the name of Rob Bell, who is pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He said this in a lecture:

“What you seek you will find.”[2]

Maybe you are here this morning and you are so like Thomas, you want to believe, but you want to be sure.  You doubt because you don’t want to be let down, the way that everything and everyone has let you down.  So you seek doubt to “protect” you from disappointment.   To you, Jesus is saying, stop doubting and believe.

Thomas did.  Enough so that he couldn’t contain it.  Foxes Book of Martyrs has it like this:
Thomas Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.[3]

[1] Lucado, Max.  No Wonder They Call Him the Savior.  pg. 99
[2] “Everything is Spiritual” DVD
[3] PocketBible for Windows, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs