From Doubt to Faith

Gospel of John #53; an exposition of John 20:24-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, February 26, 2012.

I have a birthday this week.  I’m getting old.  I know I’m not as old as I look or feel.  My last physical my doctor said I wasn’t in bad shape for a man my age.  I said, “Doctor, I’m only 51.”  He looked at me and said, “You’re kidding!”  I’ve noticed something as I’ve gotten older – I’m far more skeptical then I used to be.  There is something about experience that turns you into a cynic.  They say middle age is that time when your broad mind and narrow waist change places and I guess that’s true.  I’ve become quite a pessimist.  When I hear about some injustice or someone swindled and I say, “Well of course, what did you expect – people are jerks!”  This, by the way, is a wonderful quality in a pastor – very helpful in pastoral counseling and when comforting others!

I guess that is why, as I get older, I have more and more sympathy for Thomas “the doubting disciple.”  I’m convinced that Thomas has received a bad rap over the years.  When you mention Thomas – immediately people remember the doubting.  He went on to make a great confession – but folks emphasize his doubting not his faith.  This morning I want us to take a look at Thomas and see what happened to move him from a doubter to a confessor.

Text: John 20:24-29

The last week had been a blur.
It was on that Thursday night as Jesus and His followers met in the upper room to celebrate the Passover that the strange events began to take place.
It started when Jesus put that towel around His waist and washed their feet.
It continued during dinner with talk of death and rising again.
There was talk that one of those at the table had already betrayed Him.
There was that eerie sense surrounding the Garden of Gethsemane.
The anger and hostility of the arrest.
The injustice and brutality of the trials.
The horror of the crucifixion.
The strange and wonderful stories of an empty tomb and appearances by the risen Lord.

We do not know where Thomas was, but we know he was not with the others on the evening of Resurrection Day.  Some have criticized him for that calling him a coward.  I don’t think that was it at all.  I that think in bitter sorrow he wanted to be alone in his grief.  Don’t forget back when Jesus said it was time to go to Jerusalem – the others pleaded with Him not to go because of threats on His life.  It was Thomas who spoke up and said, “Let’s go to Jerusalem and die with Him!”  (John 11:16)

To Thomas the cross was the inevitable result of this trip to the holy city.  Now, overcome with sorrow, Thomas shunned the crowd.  Perhaps out of shame – he did not want to be with the others.  Remember he had said, “let us go and die with Him” – then Thomas ran along with the others.  He was as guilty as Peter in his denial.

Thomas did what many of us do in the midst of our pain and heartache.  We withdraw.  We do not want to be with others – we’ll handle it on our own.  In the midst of our pain we need the comfort, support and encouragement of others more than ever.  We need the body of Christ.  Thomas was not present with the others and thus he missed the appearance of the Lord.  He has certainly heard about it and now he is present with them one week later.

When again they are behind locked doors.  The risen Lord is again suddenly in their midst and we discover:

Thesis: Doubts vanish in the presence of the Living Lord.

Watch as a process unfolds in our text.
We begin with Thomas, obstinate in unbelief, who then is moved to exuberant faith.

There are three things I want you to note as we move along.

  1. First of all, note the doubt caused by shortsighted faith.  (20:24-25)
  2. Now, note how the risen Lord lovingly, graciously challenged his honest doubt. (20:26-27)
  3. In the face of undeniable proof pessimism gives way to vibrant faith.  (20:28)
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