4/11/99, E2A

“When it was evening on that day...”
John 20: 19-31

n our text today we find the disciples behind locked doors in fear. “When 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... he showed them his hands and side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. But Thomas... was not with them when Jesus came.”

We all know the feeling of being sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Last week an elderly woman left the grocery store with a shopping basket full, but as she approached her car she saw four strange men sitting in it. She whipped out her pistol, assumed the two hand on the gun stance, and yelled at them to get out of the car with their hands up. They got out, but they ran away escaping her wrath. The strangest thing happened next, when she got into her four door, black Camry, the key would not fit into the ignition; then she noticed some things in her glove compartment that did not belong in her car. She got out and looking around found her own four door black Camry parked four spaced away. She decided she had better go to the police station and report what had happened. As she told her story to the Desk Sergeant he began to laugh, and pointed to four scared guys in the corner who had reported an attempted car jacking by a gun wielding elderly woman.

Sometimes when we are as sure as sure can be, we had better take a second look. Today we take a second look at the day of resurrection, and at our own faith.

One of the many evidences of the truth of the disciples story of the Resurrection is that the early believers freely admitted that they did not all believe it at first. You would assume that if they had fabricated a story they would have left that out. But, Mary Magdalene, John, Peter, and the two on the road to Emmaus, all doubted at first. Thomas also initially doubted, and that is OK. Without a doubt or two, or ten, none of us would have progressed down the road from disbelief to belief. It was after all a lot to believe.

Most of us can identify with Thomas. Like him we have moved toward faith and have become Believing Thomases. It was natural of me to doubt. In fact, I think I always doubted. My problem was that I was the preacher’s kid, and an antagonist to my Sunday School teachers. Most of them though that we all should submissively accept what they told us at face value. But coming to faith is a process and it took me longer than most to get to that precipice where I had to take that leap of faith.

A former paratrooper compared his faith experience to that of his first parachute jump. They had prepared them as best they could on the ground, and the jumping and rolling from ten and fifteen feet ramps. They were all young and adapted well, but there came a day when they got them up in a big transport plane. The buzzer sounded when they were over the range at the correct altitude, and as we have all seen in the movies, they stood and one by one took that first leap of faith. My friend said that his leap of faith in Christ was the same kind of experience. He had some evidence that the shoot would deploy. He could see others opening. He trusted his teachers, but then it was his turn to jump. By the way, he also told me that they had a name for those who refused to jump, they called them “Pushed.”

Nobody had to push Thomas into believing. For when he saw the Lord, this first Sunday after Easter, he said, “My Lord and my God! Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Here He’s talking about us; we are the ones who come to faith without seeing.

Easter marks the beginning point for the early Church. Pre-Easter the disciples had not even begun to fathom His purpose and plan for the salvation of all humanity. After Easter, and after a thirty day crash course with the Risen Savior, they were eager to begin their mission of making more and more disciples.

However, although surveys, such as last week’s NEWSWEEK, continue to show that nearly 90% of Christians believe in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, we all know that few of us live as Resurrection People. In fact, 63% of non-Christians also say they believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. The point may well be that its not what we say that matters, but how we live our beliefs in practical real life. Faith without a constant living out of that experience, is soon dead.

As people of vital faith our mission is a continuation of Jesus’ calling and challenge. Our purpose as a local church is to bring more and more people into the experience of feeling that same breath of the Holy Spirit.

Today, Jesus has no hands, feet and voices but ours. He has decided to use us (all of us) as vehicles of His grace. And our vehicles must run on spiritual propulsion provided free by the continual in-filling of the Holy Spirit’s power. But its up to us to keep our tanks full. To drive into His holy pumping station regularly and get our batteries charged and our tanks filled. Otherwise, we are out of gas, we are dead in the water. There is no such thing as a lifetime battery, or a tank that never runs dry. There is not even a tank of gas that last from Easter to Christmas--- we need a fill up every Sunday. This might explain why your valves have been pinging.

Today may be your day to fill up with high test. Perhaps the breath of God’s Spirit has been breathing down your neck, nudging you to take seriously the faith that has haunted you for so long. At times you have wanted to believe. Now is your time.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

4/11/99, E2A