Easter 2-C, April 15, 2007

“Believing Thomas”
John 20: 19-31

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (NRSV)

ave you ever wondered from where a nick name came? There was a fellow in a small town who was called “Dropsy-Dan.” Finally I overheard fellows talking about Dan having been standing in the end zone waiting for an easy pass in the last seconds of a football game and simply dropped the ball. Thus, he was forever hung with the derogatory name, “Dropsy.” Although Dan had achieved in business and was an excellent family man and an outstanding citizen, many folks would greet him with the moniker, “Hi there Dropsy!”  

Do you suppose that Thomas was forever called “Doubting Thomas?”

Some of the other Apostles did not believe right away either. They had to touch Jesus’ body and hear his voice before they could believe that he had been raised for the dead. You and I would have had a hard time believing this first ever miracle of a dead man coming back to life. In fact, some regular church goers do not believe it even yet. Do you think that he ever earned the name “Believing Thomas,” or, even just Thomas?  In Acts one we hear the Apostles getting organized for their forthcoming ministry and we see Thomas included as one of the Twelve Apostles. He is not referred to as Doubting Thomas again, at least not in formal occasions. But we can expect that these earliest Christians, bolstered by their experiences, would forgive his somewhat initial reluctance.

It may just be that Thomas’s doubt could have been used to help make it clear that the central focus of one’s acceptance of Christ as being the Divine Son of God is the basic requirement to be accepted as a Christian and fellow Christian Believer. We had over thirty new members join our church during Lent, many of them joined by “Profession of Faith.” Is it not generally accepted that the thing that initially marks us as being a “Christian,” is that we have expressed belief and faith in the basic doctrines of the Church. Could it be that,  Thomas’ “one Sunday late” but great and clear confession of faith is what makes one a Christian following after those in the Upper Room on that first Easter evening?

Also, is it not true that “Believing” Thomas made it clear, once and for all,” that we have to make a public profession in order to be accepted into this largest true religion in the world; we must state that we believe in the tenants of the faith and accept the atoning work of Christ to be our salvation. If we have doubts we need to work through them. Doubting was never meant to be a permanent state of mind. We all respect people who have doubts. Often times college students come home after only a few weeks of academia with new doubts. We are kind to them because they are being exposed to deep thinking that has overwhelmed their Sunday School faith.

I recall being enthralled by the big ideas that confronted me in freshman Philosophy 101. On my first trip home I had carefully printed on my notebook the famous line from Descartes, “I Think, therefore, I Am!” I was surprised that my Dad had heard the same thing way back in college also.

Christian Faith sometimes takes longer than one week in which to occur. Thomas had to give it some thought, and see the actual alive-again Jesus. Jesus made the remark,  “You Have believed because you have seen me? Blessed “also” are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”   And our answer is a resounding, YES! Or is it a quiet maybe? Lets all be a “Believing Thomas!”

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
Easter 2-C, April 15, 2007