Phil’s Points to Ponder for April 23, 2017

If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word “betray” but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word “faith,” but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase “Sons of Thunder,” but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: “Doubting Thomas.” And this came to be because Thomas was absent the first time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. And when the other disciples told him that they “had seen the Lord,” Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John’s Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus “turned his face toward Jerusalem” the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: “Then let us go so that we may die with him”. It was a courageous statement, yet we don’t remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas’ doubt we have the one place in  all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? Look at his confession, “My Lord, and my God.” Not teacher. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! Thomas had come to doubt his doubts, and embraced the faith that was there all along!

Our scripture text for Sunday is John 20:19-31 and the title of my sermon is, Why Doubt Can Be a Beautiful Thing!

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