Encounters with Jesus: Jesus Encounters Doubt John 20:24-29
INTRO> As we continue in our series Encounters, we come today to one of the most famous encounters. Before we do that, I want to take you on a quick journey in history:
- St. Augustine of Hippo 354-430
- Blaise Pascal- 1623-1662 French Scientist
- Sir William Ramsey- 1852-1916 British Chemist, Nobel Prize winner.
- Clive Staples Lewis 1898-1963- taught at Oxford and Cambridge.
- Lee Patrick Strobel- 1952-Current, Award winning investigative journalist.
TRANS> What do these people have to do with today? Each of these people who profess Jesus Christ as the very Son of God, where at one point, doubters and skeptics to that very claim. Some of them militantly against the faith. At the core they doubted, they doubted Jesus.
CONTEXT> They have in common with our encounter Today man who has the name, “Doubting Thomas”. The context is that Jesus has been delivered over to trail, murdered, died, buried and rose from the grave. Jesus has appeared to the other disciples but Thomas wasn’t there. v25 “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Strong words aren’t they? It warrants a little work.
TRANS> There is a difference in doubt and unbelief.
- Doubt wants to believe but has reservations.
- Unbelief refuses to believe.
APP> If you are a Christian in this room, you have either had doubts or you currently have doubts. Or maybe you are not a Christian in this room and you have doubts about the faith. Today is important, why? “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own, but their friends’ and neighbors’.” Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, Belief in an Age of Skepticism
TRANS> This is important, how can we deal with our doubts?I see a progression in the text that will help us deal with doubts.
- Continue to talk about your doubts in biblical community.
- “So the other disciples told him..” “eight days later” the original language here shows that they “continued to tell him.” I love the fact that Thomas stayed in the conversation he didn’t leave it. And look back at verse 24, “he was not with them” When he wasn’t with them, things didn’t go well. “May we not learn a lesson? I venture to apply these words, dear friends, to our gatherings for worship. The worst thing that a man can do when disbelief or doubt or coldness shroud his sky, and blots out the stars, is to go away alone and shut himself up with his own, perhaps morbid, disturbing thoughts. The best thing that he can do is be amongst his fellows… If a fire is going out, draw the dying coals close together, and they will make each other break into a flame.”- Alexander Maclaren
APP> For the skeptic:
- Be committed to the work.
- Be fair in your critiques.
- Be honest with yourself.
For the Church:
“And have mercy on those who doubt.” Jude 22
2) Listen to the Apostles.
- “We have seen the Lord!” Scholars agree that the focus point of this passage and the one before is the encounters with the Apostles, this is what gives them the credibilitality of being apostles, their eye witness accounts.
Trans> When you look at the rest of the New Testament it’s about this, the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about it, what else would compel these men? Will Durant (Pic) who is a famous historian, who is not a believer even admits that you have to deal with this fact: “Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the gospels, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed- the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus arrest, Peters denial… no one reading these scenes can doubt the men behind them.That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any reordered in the Gospels. After two centuries of higher criticism the outlines of the life, character and teaching of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the History of Western Man.” Will Durant, History Of Civilization, Volume 3 pg 557
APP> Isn’t that amazing? If this wasn’t real? Why make it so anti-climatic?
3) Know that Jesus cares about your doubts.
- “Then he said to Thomas…” Who told Jesus that Thomas had doubts? No one but do you see how gentle he is with Thomas? How he give Thomas what he wants?
APP> One of my favorite bible verse’s about Jesus isn’t even in the NT. “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;” Isiah 42:3 APP> Jesus always meets us where we are at but never leaves us there.
4) Drop your conditions.
- “Unless I…..” Do you see what Thomas is doing? Thomas is putting conditions on his belief in Jesus. That’s why Jesus says to him “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” But do you notice something? Thomas doesn’t touch Jesus does he? John doesn’t tell us and almost all commentators agree, then we get THE greatest confession of Jesus! “My Lord my God!”
TRANS> What does belief mean? The word the John uses here is πιστός “pistos” It means to trust…. the word for disbelieve is to “mistrust”
APP> Do you see Thomas had a condition before he trusted and Jesus is saying that isn’t really trust. If you say “Jesus, I will trust you if ____________.” whatever is in the blank is actually what your trust is in, that’s your Savior, that’s where you faith is.
*ILL> Do you remember the Indiana Jones movie “The Last Crusade”?(Pic)
The movie comes to the climax when his Dad is shot, and Indy has to find a way out, his is following this ancient book (Pic) that leads him to this cliff (Pic), he realizes is requires faith, “Great, it’s a leap of faith” The scene shows his father saying “You must believe boy, you must believe.” So he steps out (Pic) and find a pathway that was camouflage to look like the wall (Pic) APP> You see, Jesus is telling Thomas, don’t put a barrier between us, trust me.
Close> What does all of this mean for us?v29 “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This doesn’t mean that Thomas’s belief is greater or lesser than this, or visa versa.
Big Idea> We can deal with doubt by trusting truth.
APP> Don’t you see? Jesus isn’t just asking us to believe a fact, he is asking us to trust a person, himself. Look at verses 30-31
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” 1 Peter 1:8
- What doubts do you have?
- What are you doing with those doubts?
- What compels you about Jesus?
Big Idea> We can deal with doubt by trusting truth.