Without a Doubt

April 11, 2021
by Pastor Joel Plisek
Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31


What do you find unbelievable?  If you are like me, you find yourself saying from time to time, “I don’t believe it!” Something really amazing happens, but we act like we disbelieve.

Just think of the technological changes that have happened over the past years.  In 1943 Thomas Watson CEO of IBM made the bold prediction “There’s a world market for maybe five computers” (Worst Predictions of All Time, Telegraph, 29 June, 2016).

Every once in a while, though, we hear a story, and it is too out of this world, and we don’t believe it at all.  It reminds me of a pastor’s small son that was told by his mother that he should wash his hands because there were germs living in all that dirt.

He refused and complained, by saying: “Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That’s all I ever hear around this house, and I’ve never seen either one!”

Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.  Without a doubt the most significant event in all of human history.  It is the lynch pin upon which Christianity hinges.  In other words, if Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity has absolutely no power.  The Bible even admits this. The Bible is brutally honest in admitting this.  In I Corinthians 15:17 the Apostle Paul writes this, “If Christ has not been raised then your faith is futile and you are still in your sin.” 

Another word for futile is pointless.  What’s the point?  If Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead then we should be just patted on the head and sent on our merry ways.  You know those gullible Christians.  Here’s the real problem, you are still in your sins.

You have to appreciate the honesty in this.  The consequence of sin is death.  If Jesus didn’t have power over the consequences of sin and death, then what makes you think He can extend power to you?  If he couldn’t do it for Himself, you and I have no chance! Without a doubt everything rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus.

Thomas Jefferson was a believer in a Creator God, but he was also a bit skeptical.  He had an unorthodox view of Jesus later in life.  He took a razor and he cut out those parts of the gospel that had anything to do with the supernatural or miracles including the resurrection.  What was left was complied into a book called “The Morals and Teachings of Jesus.”

But the thing that Jefferson missed, is that if Jesus was just a moral teacher it is not very moral that he didn’t do what he said he was going to do.  That’s the great myth of our society today for many people. If Jesus is just a good teacher he can be put alongside Buddha, Confucius, Mohamud or just any good teachers. If Jesus didn’t do what he said, then that makes him a liar, not just a small one, but a colossal one, because he repeatedly said he was going to die and come back to life. 

If he didn’t do it, he would be a fake. He would be the biggest deceiver the world has ever known.  To say that Jesus was just a moral teacher is completely inaccurate and it misses everything Jesus said about himself. 

Thomas Jefferson was a doubter, but he’s not the most famous Thomas who doubted.  There’s another guy who worked his way into American culture, and he’s known as Doubting Thomas.  Doubting Thomas gets a bad rap, but he was actually a man of great courage.  Let’s set the record straight.  In Luke 11 Jesus is with his Disciples and he hears that his good friend Lazarus is sick, so he wanted to go visit. The disciples immediately said no because Lazarus was back in Judea and the last time Jesus was in Judea, the religious leaders picked up rocks and tried to stone him.  But then Thomas spoke up and told his brothers that if Jesus wanted to go back, then there were all going back with him.  He said if Jesus dies, then we’re going to die with him. 

That was Thomas!? What happened? He’s a man who he had to see to believe, he had to figure it out for himself.  Like many people today they want to see to believe, but unlike many people today they are unwilling to be led by the evidence.  Thomas is a man who wanted to figure it out for himself. 

The beautiful things about Jesus is that he reveals himself to people who sincerely need him to.

The days following Jesus’ death is a very dark time for the disciples.   The disciples were in the upper room, behind locked doors, afraid because they feared that they were next.  Jesus’ tomb was empty, but they still didn’t understand fully what all this meant until Jesus was standing in the midst. 

What does Jesus say?  Of all the things Jesus could say, he doesn’t say it once, but he says it twice: “Peace be with you.”  Why is that so important?  Because in every human heart is the deep desire for peace.  What is the essence of peace?  The essence of peace is to be secure, and this is exactly what these men need, they need security and so do you.

There are innumerable things in life that will disrupt peace.  Circumstances beyond our control.  As I say this, I’m sure something has immediately come to your mind.  Things that are unknowable, but also those difficult things that are knowable.  They breed insecurity, they cause anxiety. 

The most often repeated command in the Bible is what? “Do not fear.”  Wouldn’t you think it would be love?  Serve?  Obey?  Instead it’s do not fear.  Does the Bible understand our humanness?  I think so.  Twice, Jesus says “Peace be with you.”  The resurrection means a lot of things but one of the primary things it means is peace.

Then Jesus does breaths the Holy Spirit on them. What is going on here?  I think this is super encouraging for the disciples here. 

Remember just a few days ago in John 14 Jesus says I’m going to be leaving you.  They didn’t like that bit of information one bit.  Then Jesus makes this crazy statement that it’s better that I leave because when I leave I’m going to give you something, I’m going to give you the Holy Spirit.  What does he do here?  He breaths on them, they receive the Holy Spirit.  They must have been so pumped up to realize that this was the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made just a few days earlier.

Then he gives them their life purpose.  It’s kind of an interesting statement if you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven.  If you withhold forgiveness for any it is withheld.  What is this?  A lot could be said here, but let me say this is a summary of the Gospel.  What is the gospel?  The gospel is that you can have forgiveness of sin. So this is their charge, this is their mission. 

By the way Christian, this is your mission too.  Some of the last words of Jesus and some of the first words of Jesus were, “go and make disciples.”  This is the mission.  He gives them exactly what they need, which was reassurance. 

Remember last week when Mary was clinging to Jesus? What did Jesus say?  “Let go.”  He’s not being rude, he’s simply saying he has something really important for her to do now, and that is to tell people that she has seen him.  Here’s the beautiful thing about Jesus, he will give people who are sincerely looking for him, exactly what we need, when they need it, and Thomas is proof of this. 

Thomas wasn’t present when Jesus appeared the first time, and he doesn’t believe his best friends.  He doesn’t believe the eyewitness accounts.  “Unless I put my fingers in the nail marks and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A lot of people dismiss the Bible as being unreliable, they say the Bible isn’t trustworthy.  They say that the gospel is fiction.  Here’s the thing about the gospel, there is no other literature like it.  The gospel is not written in the vain of fiction, the Bible is so brutally honest in painting the picture of how things really were. 

If ever there was a crescendo moment for the gospel writers to say that Jesus has been resurrected, it would be when they appeared at the tomb.  But the tomb was empty. 

The Apostle Paul will write and say at one time the resurrected Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time.  Then he adds thar, most of them are still alive.  In other words, he is saying go talk to them.  Go do your own research.  You go ask these people what they saw and they are going to tell you the same thing.  Why would Paul take a risk and put something out there like that? You don’t just throw that out unless that happened.  Without a doubt it did happen.

So, one-week later Jesus shows up, and Thomas is there. What does Jesus say to him?  Without talking to him, “put your finger in my hand and hand in my side.”  You know what’s interesting about the text?  Does it say that Thomas did any of that?  No!  Instead, at just the mention of these words from Jesus, Thomas responds, “my Lord and my God.” Thomas realized that Jesus knows exactly what he needs before he asks.  He’s shocked at the fact that Jesus appears with no previous conversation and says Thomas I know exactly what you need.  See and touch! 

This is such a beautiful admission on the part of Thomas because it’s one of the great all-time confessions, “my Lord and my God.” Realize that Thomas is a Jew, and Jews were fiercely monotheist, and for a Jewish man to call Jesus his God is a strong statement of belief. 

So what does the resurrection mean to you?  Hopefully it gives you peace.  The first words that Jesus speaks were “peace be with you.”  It gives you purpose to go and tell.

Would you be like Thomas and would you ask Jesus for what you need to believe and then be open minded and open hearted to receive what you are actually given?

Jesus actually ended the conversation by saying, “have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  I’m convinced that people do not reject the resurrection of Jesus Christ because of a lack of evidence but rather they reject, they deny the resurrection because it’s a threat to their autonomy.  In other words if Jesus said that he’s coming back from the dead it probably stands to reason that he has something to say about how I live my life.  Really none of us want to be told how to live. You want a simple definition of sin, ME FIRST.  MY WAY. 

To deny the resurrection is to deny all the good things that God wants for you, but more than that to actually deny the resurrection is to deny the deep love that God has for you.  It is to deny God love for you. 

In Romans 5:8 it says “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  In other words, Jesus carried the ultimate wound of your sins and my sins so that we would not have to and that we would have eternal life.  Without a doubt all other wounds we experience in this life now prepare us for what is eternal.