April 21, 2019
It’s Not Good News; It’s the Best News Ever
Pastor Bryan Watson
Good morning. Let’s open with a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, we give You thanks and praise this morning as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Your Precious Son, Jesus Christ. As I deliver this message to Your people today, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
On the outskirts of a small town, there was a big, old pecan tree just inside the cemetery fence. One day, two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight, and began dividing the nuts.
“One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me,” said one boy. Several nuts dropped and rolled down toward the fence.
Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery. He slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me…”
He knew just what it was. He jumped on his bike and rode off, peddling as hard as he could.
Just around the bend, he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along.
“Come quick!” shouted the boy, out of breath. “You won’t believe what I heard! Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls!”
“Beat it kid,” said the man. “Can’t you see it’s hard for me to walk?” But the boy insisted, so the man hobbled slowly to the cemetery with the boy.
Standing by the fence, they heard, “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.”
The old man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been tellin’ me the truth! Let’s see if we can see them.”
Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet they still couldn’t see anything. They gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of the Lord. At last they heard, “One for you, one for me. That’s all of them. Now, let’s go get those nuts by the fence and we’ll be done.”
They say the old man had the lead for a good half-mile before the kid on the bike passed him!
Thank God that isn’t the way it really works. Could you imagine if that was the extent of our hope?
But even though he’s not there saying, “One for you, one for me,” what the devil is really trying to say is, “One for me. One for me. One for me. ALL for me.” He is the master prosecutor who stands before God and accuses us day and night. Revelation 12:10 refers to him as “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night”.
And do you know what? By the law, he’s right. Prior to Christ’s death on the cross on Friday, just how lost were we?
Well, let’s see what Paul says in Romans 3:10-18.
Paul begins with the phrase As it is written: So this isn’t anything new that Paul is coming up with. He is going off of the Holy Scriptures. Paul actually gives 14 indictments against humanity in this passage. Are you ready?
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb; Folks, when we open our mouths, it is the rotten stench of death that comes out. Listerine can’t fix our spiritual bad breath problem.
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” Are you seeing a theme here? Do the things that we say get us into trouble much?
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Without the grace of God, We. Are. Doomed. You see, we don’t get to set the standard here. This isn’t a comparison against others. It doesn’t matter that you’re better than me or that I’m better than you. We aren’t just trying to save ourselves from the bear by outrunning the slowest person. If we don’t measure up to the standard of God’s perfection, WE AIN’T GETTIN’ IN, and we have even LESS hope than the two nuts by the cemetery fence. At least they had a 50/50 chance!
But thanks be to God, Friday came. TGIF took on a WHOLE new meaning on Friday when Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived, fully human and fully God, took our sins upon Himself and died on that cross. And He paid our debt.
So why isn’t that the end of the story? Why doesn’t the story read, “And Christ died on the cross as the penalty for sin, and He was buried, and everybody lived happily ever after?” Why not? Our debt was paid, wasn’t it?
If Christ’s body had remained in that tomb and rotted away, death would STILL reign. He had to die to pay the penalty, but He had to rise to bring LIFE! Friday had to happen in order to bring us to Sunday, but it is SUNDAY that makes us ALIVE IN CHRIST! When I walk into a store and pay for something, I’ve given them money and they’ve promised to give me a product in return. But it isn’t until I take possession of the product that the transaction is completed. Christ paid the price for us on Friday, but on Sunday, He took possession of the goods, the freedom of all those who put their trust in Him.
And He did it in a big way!
Folks, His body was dead. DEAD. There are those who claim that the whole thing was a hoax, that Jesus never died. That He had just passed out or faked His death. Those Roman soldiers were trained, professional executioners. They knew death. Jesus Christ was DEAD and anybody who says he was not is simply in denial of the truth.
He was in a tomb. A giant stone was rolled in front of the opening of that tomb. That stone was sealed with an official Roman seal. You don’t break that seal unless you have your own death wish. And that tomb was guarded by professional soldiers who faced execution if their mission failed. And their mission? Don’t let the disciples steal the body.
As if the disciples would steal the body. At this point, most of them were cowards. They deserted Christ like He was toxic. They tried to get Him to stop talking about His death because they didn’t believe Him when He said He would rise again. They watched their leader die, and they took off! As if they’re going to fight a couple of Roman soldiers, break a Roman seal, roll away a giant stone, and steal a body. I don’t think so.
John MacArthur puts it this way. What fool would go to all that effort to steal a body and then die later as a martyr for a HOAX? I know I wouldn’t. If I was willing to die for something, it has be something worth dying for!
The fact is, Christ’s body was in that tomb on Friday, and by Sunday morning, it was GONE! And that, dear brothers and sisters, is a MIRACLE.
And now, here comes the point. The answer to the question: so what?
Well, I’ve got an answer. Let’s start with our scripture passage for this message: Romans 8:34. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Well, we already know who it is who condemns, right? Who did we say was the master prosecutor? Satan. And he’s not going to make any accusation unless he thought he could make it stick. But do you know what? It’s Sunday!!! Jesus Christ is risen, and is right now at the right hand of God making intercession for us, and when the devil stands up in court and says we are guilty of lust, or we are guilty of greed, or we are guilty of gluttony or gossip or ANYTHING else; if we have confessed our sin and repented, then Jesus is going to intercede and say IT IS PAID. And when the devil replies, “Oh yeah? Well who paid it, because this guy doesn’t have the means?” <walk over to the cross> Jesus will stretch out His arms and say, “I PAID IT. ALL OF IT”.
And because of His action on the Cross on Friday, and His Resurrection and subsequent intercession on Sunday, we have a whole new hope!
He is risen! Not just for those whose circumstances allow for them to be overjoyed on this beautiful morning, but also for those who are suffering or will suffer heartbreak even today. Christ’s Resurrection doesn’t mean that life will be all sunshine and rainbows if we just believe in Him. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Unless He comes back first, we are all going to die. Except for a couple of exceptions in the Bible, every single thing that ever lived since the dawn of creation has died. The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, said in Ecclesiastes 3:2, there is… A time to be born, And a time to die; That’s just the way it is in a fallen world. The Resurrection doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to go through heartbreak. If your heart beats, you will have heartbreak and heartache.
But the Resurrection means that heartbreak and heartache are NOT the final answer. We’re going to go through the valley of the shadow of death. But for those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Good Shepherd, His rod and His staff will comfort us. We will emerge on the other side of the valley because HE emerged on the other side of the valley and became THE WAY in which we should go. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He is going to be there to lead us home to the Father if we will follow Him.
And the heartbreak that you feel now will be NOTHING compared to the JOY that you will experience in the life yet to come. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
We’re going to hurt. Bad. And we are going to feel at times like God has forsaken us. But He hasn’t. He dealt with our heartbreak by making a final destination that is so great, so wonderful, that when we use our tiny little fallen minds to fantasize about how great it’s going to be, with peace, and departed loved ones, and feasting, and celebrating, that doesn’t even come CLOSE to what He has planned for us. We don’t have a CLUE. I mean, I know what I think I want Heaven to be like, and Paul tells me that I don’t even have a sniff. No idea whatsoever.
But in the here and now, when I go to a funeral, and I hear the words from 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your sting?”, well right at that moment, I know where the sting is. I can FEEL it, and there’s no point pretending I can’t. Because in this fallen and broken world, it STINGS! And when I walk through a cemetery, I SEE the sting on stone after stone after stone. It wasn’t originally supposed to be this way. But there is something else I know. For each and every person in the cemetery, they got there a lot faster than they thought they would. And that gives me hope. Not because I am looking forward to the grave... no, I’m going to live life for all it’s worth for as long as I’m breathing. But it gives me hope because it reminds me that this broken world is temporary, and before I know it, I will be with my Savior FOREVER in a place so great I can’t even imagine it, and that is why as Christians we can say “O death, where is your sting?” because on Easter Sunday morning, DEATH LOST for EVERYBODY who puts their faith in Jesus. DEATH DIED that day.
THAT’S the glory of the Resurrection.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I had to face some tough questions for myself that took me past the standard textbook answers to the questions of life. A Christian friend came alongside and with the best intentions said, “I hope you’re not mad at God for giving you cancer.” Do you know what? God didn’t give me cancer. I got cancer because we live in a broken, fallen creation. Romans 8:21 and 22 tells us that creation is currently under the bondage of corruption, and that it groans with birth pangs right now. That’s why bad things happen. Because this world is broken. It’s in bondage to corruption. It groans. But when I had cancer, I held onto the hope that because of Jesus Christ’s victory over death by His Resurrection, I would one day be resurrected as well! His death paid for my sins! And His Resurrection gave me victory over death. And His intercession tells the devil to TAKE A HIKE! Hit the road, Jack! And this fallen world may challenge that, and may test that, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
The Bible says in John 14:19 - “Because I live, you will live also.”
During my fight with cancer, I held onto the words of a song by Chris Tomlin. Let me read them.
There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"
Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
I will rise
In closing, I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. The Son of God dying on a Cross and coming back to life again is more than enough to pay the price for you. He’s paid the debt for your salvation, but it’s up to you what you do with it. You’re the one who has to accept it. Or not.
But if you want to make that decision today to accept what He has done for you, and have your place at the table reserved for you, then I want to invite you to come and talk to me after the service today, or talk to Pastor Dennis, sitting right here. We would love to pray with you and talk to you about what it means to accept this gift from God.
You see, it’s not just Good News. It’s the Best News Ever! Now what are you going to do with it?
Amen, let’s pray.
Lord of Glory, how can we possibly thank You for the Resurrection? The promise that You have made to us cuts through all of the pain and suffering that we go through in this life. You reached out to us and made the way because there was nothing we could do to save ourselves. Our feeble thanks and praise are the best we have, and we offer them to you this morning. Thanks be to God, He is Risen. He is risen indeed! Amen.
April 28, 2019
My Lord and My God!
Pastor Bryan Watson
Would you please bow your heads with me in a moment of prayer.
Heavenly Father, as I bring Your message to Your people today, I ask that You would speak through me only that which You would have me say. Guard my heart and guide my tongue, that Your message would be loud and clear, and that this would be YOUR message, and not mine. Soften the hearts and open the ears of Your people, that they may receive this message with gladness and eagerness. As Jesus said, he who has ears to hear, let him hear! In the name of Christ I pray, Amen.
A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no body. In the defense's closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all," the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. "Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom." He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened.
Finally the lawyer said, "Actually, I made up the previous statement. But, you all looked on with anticipation. I therefore put to you that you have a reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty." The jury, clearly confused, retired to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty.
"But how?" inquired the lawyer. "You must have had some doubt; I saw all of you stare at the door."
The jury foreman replied, "Oh, we looked, but your client didn't."
Ah yes… doubt. Last week, during our Easter Sunday service, we celebrated the glory of the Resurrection! In my opinion, this is THE pinnacle event of Christianity. But in the hours and days after Christ rose from the dead, there was also a lot of doubt, even among those who were the closest to Jesus, and heard Him talk about rising from the dead.
So today, we’re going to explore doubt. But not from the perspective of stubborn doubt, that “dig in your heels, I reject God” kind of doubt. That’s a different kind of doubt and a different sermon altogether.
No, today I want to look at the believer’s doubt. The doubt that comes to the heart and mind of true followers of Christ. I want to speak to those who struggle to see the goodness of God in the chaos of life. I want to speak to everybody who has ever asked, “Where are you, God??? Why did this happen, God??? What are You doing, God??? Why have You forsaken me???”
I want to speak to you. And to me.
Why do Christians doubt?
So, why do Christians doubt? I think if you asked 3 different theologians, you’d probably get 5 different opinions. Personally, I can think of 3 good reasons as to why believers in Christ doubt.
The first and most obvious reason that I think Christians doubt God is due to personal circumstances. Personal circumstances. It’s EASY to believe in God when you’ve got life by the tail. Beautiful weather on a weekend. A good diagnosis from the doctor. A raise in your salary. The girl you wanted to ask out just said YES… and her Dad DOESN’T meet you with the shotgun! (Personal story, ask me later!) These are all good reasons to thank God, and we SHOULD! But in those situations, it’s EASY to be thankful.
But what about when the doctor says, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do.”?
What about when the police knock on your door at 2am?
What about when your spouse walks out the door for the last time and says, “We’re through.”? What then?
Those are the times when our personal faith can be strained to the point of breaking. “God, WHERE ARE YOU?” our hearts cry out. And in that moment, doubt creeps in.
Lack of Personal Relationship
The second reason that we experience doubt is because we lack a personal relationship with God. Not reading the Bible. Not praying. How else do you build a relationship with someone than to spend time with them?
If a man and a woman are going to have a successful marriage, they need to spend time together. They need to get to know each other BEFORE the wedding, and they need to CONTINUE growing that relationship AFTER the wedding. Too often we hear that people who have been married for 25 years or more are getting divorced, because after the kids are gone they find themselves in an empty house with a stranger. Why? Because for the last 25 or 30 years, they had a business partner instead of a mate.
Is God our business partner? Our personal genie? Or is He our Lord and our God? Do we have a relationship with Him?
The Lies of the Devil
The third reason that doubt creeps in simply because of the lies of the devil. It started in the Garden of Eden with the words “Did God actually say?...” (Genesis 3:1)
If Satan can convince you to believe that either God doesn’t exist, or that He DOES exist, but He just doesn’t LOVE you or CARE about you, then he can cause your faith to shake.
In John 8:44, speaking of the devil, Jesus says, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
We need to refuse to accept the lies of the devil, and focus on the Truth instead.
This morning, I want to tell you about three men from the New Testament. Three men who believed in Jesus Christ, and yet at critical times in their lives, had questions.
The Father of the Demon-Possessed Boy
The first man I want to tell you about is found in Mark 9, verses 14-29. The background is that this man had a demon-possessed son. The demon had a powerful hold over the boy, and the man took his son to the disciples to get healed. The disciples couldn’t heal the boy, but eventually the man got to Jesus. Let’s read verses 20 through 27.
20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[d] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
The issue here wasn’t Christ’s ability to cast out the demon and heal the boy. The issue was the father’s faith. “IF you can…” he said. The word “if” leaves the possibility that maybe Jesus CAN’T do this. It is obvious that the boy’s father believed that Christ could heal him, or he wouldn’t have bothered coming to see Jesus. Yet, at the same time, we see that the father had doubts. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” He’s not ashamed to say that he needs Christ’s help to have the faith that he needs.
And we see Christ’s compassion for the man both by what He does, and by what He does not do. First of all, Jesus doesn’t shame the man for professing his doubt. He doesn’t say to the man, “Get away from Me, you doubter!” Jesus understands that the man is earnestly seeking Him, and that his doubt does not spring from a stubborn refusal to believe. Instead, He casts the spirit out as the man had requested and heals the boy’s son.
Now, I need to be careful that I don’t mislead you here, because sometimes our prayers AREN’T answered the way we want them to be, regardless of our faith. Every person that Jesus met and even healed 2000 years ago eventually died regardless of their prayers. So, I’m not promising that you are going to get everything you ask for. But what I AM saying is that Jesus had compassion on a man who believed, yet still struggled with his unbelief. But the man did the right thing… he went TO Jesus and professed his belief, and CONFESSED his UNbelief, and Jesus still loved him.
John the Baptist
The next man I want to tell you about is John the Baptist. We find this story in Luke 7:18-23. We read, 18 …. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[e] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Now, let me set the context for this a little bit. Why does John have to send 2 of his own disciples to Jesus? Why doesn’t John just go to Jesus himself? Well, the answer to that is because John is currently in prison. Why is he in prison? You can find the whole story in Matthew 14 and Mark 6, but to make a long story short, John is in prison because he confronted King Herod about Herod’s incestuous marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias, who was also his niece.
Historians say that John was in prison for nearly 2 years before he was executed, and he was executed approximately 1 year before Christ’s Crucifixion. That means that John would not have had the opportunity to see Christ’s ministry firsthand, outside of when John had personally baptized Christ.
John KNEW Jesus to be the Messiah. John knew that he himself was to be the forerunner of the Messiah. His father, Zechariah, would have told him so many times about the prophecy that foretold his birth, that he probably knew it word for word. And John would have been told about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. And about the star. And the Magi. And the Shepherds. John knew. That is why, when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John said to Him, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)
And after Christ was baptized, John would have SEEN the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And John would have HEARD a voice from heaven that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
So, John knew for certain that Jesus was the Messiah. Yet John was also a fiery personality, saying to the religious leaders of the day, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7) and “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)
John knew that the Messiah would eventually establish a new kingdom. His father, Zechariah, would have taught him as much. Listen to some verses from Zechariah’s prophecy immediately after John’s birth: “that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;” – Luke 1:71 and
“the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,” Luke 1:73-74.
So, in that context, John is probably sitting in prison for 2 years, hearing all this stuff about what Jesus is doing, and yet not seeing any of it himself, and he’s probably asking, “Why hasn’t He established the kingdom yet? What is He waiting for? I’ve served faithfully all my life, and here I am rotting away in this stinking prison for 2 years. What is going on?” So, John sends his disciples to Jesus. Are you the One, or should we look for another?
John is doubting. Here is the one of whom Jesus said, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11) and yet he is struggling with his faith.
And how does Jesus answer John? “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.”
This is a significant answer. Not because Jesus is saying, “Well John, look at all the stuff I’m doing.” But it’s significant because in Isaiah 26:19, Isaiah prophesies about the Messiah, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!” and again in Isaiah 35:3-6, Isaiah prophesies, “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”
Jesus knew that John would be well versed in these prophecies and would understand that Jesus was the fulfillment of these prophecies. So, He answered John, not with a stinging rebuke, but by gently pointing him to the Word, which John already knew due to His relationship with God.
What did John do when he doubted? He didn’t ask his prison guards what they thought. He went to Jesus. And Jesus didn’t condemn him for his weakness.
The third man that I want to tell you about is the Disciple, Thomas. Turn in your Bibles, if you will, to our scripture passage for today, John 20:24-29.
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Thomas, but from what it does say, we can draw the conclusion that Thomas was an intense believer in Jesus, yet also tended to be a pessimist. For example, in John chapter 11, Jesus is on his way to Judea to deal with the death of Lazarus. His disciples don’t want Him to go there because they perceive this to be a threat to his life. In verse 16, Thomas declares, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him!” Intensely loyal, yet pessimistic.
In John 14, Thomas demonstrates his desire to be with Jesus, yet also his frustration with the fact that he doesn’t understand what Jesus is saying. In verse 5, Thomas says to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Even though he is frustrated, he is seeking Jesus.
This brings us to the days immediately after Christ’s Crucifixion. Thomas has heard the reports from the other disciples that they have seen Jesus. In his grief, and natural pessimism, he refuses to believe them. I’m sure that he desperately WANTED to believe them, but in his DESPAIR he lays down conditions for God. “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
How often do we find ourselves in that spot? Despite knowing better, we put conditions upon God in moments of doubt. Yet how did Thomas respond? Did he leave the other disciples behind and go about his business, knowing that his dreams had died with Christ? No. Thomas stuck close with his Christian brothers and sisters, and was there waiting for Christ when he appeared.
And how did Jesus respond to Thomas? Did He refuse to show Himself? Or did he appear to Thomas, and then kick him out because of his doubt, saying, “See? I told you so?” No, Jesus showed compassion for a faithful believer who was going through doubt in a hard time.
Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
Application for Today
You might be sitting here today thinking that you are the only one who believes but struggles with doubt. I’m here to tell you that there are probably more of us in this room who have those same questions, than those who don’t. We have this amazing ability to put on these masks of perfection when we walk into Church, but if we are real with ourselves, and others, we can honestly say that sometimes we need a little help believing. Sometimes, we just need somebody to come along and believe WITH us. If you doubt, you are not alone. It is normal to have doubt, but we can’t stay there.
But I also want you to remember that Jesus does not condemn a believer who struggles with their faith. As we’ve seen several times this morning, Jesus has an amazing ability to meet us right where we are at when the going gets tough.
Next, we must come to Jesus through the Word and through prayer. John 20:31 says but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. We also read in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
WE NEED OTHER CHRISTIANS: The Bible says in Colossians 4:7-8 7 Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts,
WE NEED TO ENDURE: James 1:2-4 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
So let’s stop beating up on ourselves when we have questions. We all do sometimes. But let’s not stay there, either. Seek out other believers. Get to know Jesus through the Bible. Pray and tell Him about your struggles. He can take it. The struggles you are facing now may lead you to a faith that is deeper than you’ve ever had before.
Amen. Let’s pray.