Will your next vacation be on board a spacecraft? Companies like Blue Origin and Space-X are stirring up interest in space exploration and are already talking about space tourism and private citizens circling the Moon. Space exploration is showing up in popular movies like Hidden Figures and The Martian. All this interest in space exploration makes me think of another kind of exploration that comes up every year around Easter, exploration of faith.
This year’s Easter sermon will focus on one man’s spiritual journey from doubt to faith. His name is Thomas and he’s had the misfortune to be nick-named “Doubting Thomas.” His story is found in John 20:24-29, where we see that he was the only one of Jesus’ remaining eleven disciples to miss out on seeing the resurrected Jesus when He appeared to them. When he hears the news that Jesus is alive, he responds with skepticism. Who ever heard of a crucified person coming back to life?
Thomas lays down a requirement: for him to believe Jesus is alive, he’s got to be able to personally see Jesus and touch His scars. People have been quick to criticize Thomas here, but let’s appreciate that he’s being honest about his doubts, and he’s still associating with Jesus’ people. He’s on a spiritual journey but still has some ground to cover before he can fully believe.
Jesus doesn’t seem put off by Thomas’ disbelief. Instead He personally appears to Thomas, saying literally, “bring your finger here” so he can touch the place where Jesus was pierced by nails and sword. I see great kindness and mercy in this. I see a Savior who wants to move a man along on his spiritual journey. I see the centrality of the resurrection and how essential it is to whole-hearted faith in Christ.
How does Thomas respond? In John’s gospel there have been many who’ve come across Jesus and challenged Him to show them a sign, to prove Himself to them by some miracle, and Jesus was typically unresponsive to them because He knew their requests weren’t sincere. Thomas is different. When he sees the scars, he utters one of the greatest expressions of faith and worship ever heard, “My Lord and my God!” His doubts answered, he comes to a place of whole-hearted, personal allegiance and trust.
How about you? Where are you in your journey? Have you come to Jesus and whole-heartedly come under His authority and rule, or do you have doubts and questions? Jesus’ last word to Thomas is for you as well, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” How can anyone believe without seeing? Millions have and more will. God is still mercifully making the reality and glory of His resurrected Son known to those who bring their honest doubts to Him, who come into the circle of His disciples for help, and who read the Bible where stories like this one can fire faith and overcome even the largest doubts. I hope to see you on Easter and encourage you to invite all skeptics and doubters to our Christianity Explored class that begins April 26.