"Behind Closed Doors"
It's not easy being Thomas. Most people remember him for this one story. But as we examine the text, let God lead you to believe and not question the power of the resurrection.
Behind Closed Doors
A. Fear is a powerful motivator. The doctor tells you that lose weight and exercise more. You say, “Okay,” and are good for a week, but then you are back to eating junk food at night while watching TV. But then you go into the doctor’s office and they say, you have a heart issue and part of the problem is the food you eat, your weight and your lack of good cardio exercise. Now, faced with heart issues, the fear of a heart attack causes you to start changing your diet. Fear can be a powerful motivator.
B. Fear is also a powerful inhibitor. By that, I mean fear can cause you so much anxiety that you shut down and do nothing. You fear people, you fear the future, you fear the unknown and part of it is based upon facts you have already experienced, but now you are writing a story that hasn’t happened. Fear causes you to stay behind a locked door when all the evidence of a resurrected Jesus has been presented. But you aren’t looking for him, you are hiding.
C. It fear that John speaks of and addresses in his telling of the night of the Resurrection of Jesus. Look at what John says in verse 19, “the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews.” Then again, in verse 26, we read the phrase, “although the doors were locked.”
D. Fear is powerful and sometimes, that emotion will lock us inside and keep us from experiencing the joy that comes from spiritual hope. Fear brings doubt where joy brings faith. It the emotions of fear and doubt that we will see unfold so that we can have joy and faith by the time we leave this room.
A. I love Thomas. I think Thomas is the quintessential modern-day believer. Here is a guy who wants all the facts, but also all the feelings. I know nothing of his background, but I get snippets of his thinking.
B. It is the Apostle John who gives us these insights into the personality of Thomas. In John 11, Jesus has set his face towards Jerusalem even though there is trouble every time Jesus goes there. When Jesus flat out states that he is going to Bethany (just outside of Jerusalem) and to the family of Lazarus who was now dead, we get Thomas speaking to the other disciples (READ John 11:6).
C. I don’t know his inflections, but I believe we get to see his heart. Thomas was ready to die with Jesus because he believed in Jesus. Thomas was not going to leave Jesus alone to suffer.
D. At the dinner that we call “The Last Supper” Jesus is trying to teach his disciples about the Holy Spirit, but they are hung up on the statement that Jesus says he is leaving and they cannot follow. Yet, like Peter, that’s not good enough to Thomas. Jesus tells them “Believe in God; believe also in me.” Then he talks about the house of God and tells them, “You know the way to where I am going.” Really? Thomas is honest enough to ask (READ John 14:5).
E. I share with you a little of his past, because it opens the door for us to understand the reading today.
II. During The Week
A. Just to make sure we have our timeline. Jesus rose up on Sunday, Jesus met with 10 of the 11 Apostles that first night inside a locked room, but it was Thomas who was not there. Sometime after that but before the next Sunday we read these words (READ John 20:24-25).
B. Thomas wants proof. Remember, part of the reason Jesus does what he does in the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension was to give many proofs that he was alive. (Acts 1:3) Thomas needed more than a story. Thomas needed more than postcard of an empty tomb. The unbelief that Thomas had was rooted in fear. Fear of many things, but it probably included the fear of being alone.
C. He wording is very specific. “Unless I …” “I will never believe.” That phrase is very strong in the Greek language. One translation, “I refuse to believe it.”
III. Week Two
A. So here we are, the second week has begun. We on the next Sunday or the eighth day from a Jewish mindset. Let’s read our text (READ John 20:26-27).
B. While the greeting by Jesus both times was a general greeting, the depth of the idea of peace, His peace, was wrapped up in his greeting. But while we could talk about peace, I want to look at the last phrase Jesus says directly to Thomas. “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
C. Thomas had started to withdraw from the fellowship of the other apostles (he was not there that first day when Jesus showed up). But his doubt was taking him away and it had to be challenged and stopped. Jesus was calling Thomas to give up his unbelief and start believing.
D. Jesus may be calling for you to do the same today. Stop with your unbelief and start believing. Believe in the one who can make you whole. Believe in the one who died so you could live and lives so you can be eternally with him. Stop the doubt and fear from removing you from God’s family and believe. Make a choice, a decision, and say from the depth of your heart what Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.”
A. With such a declaration, Jesus calls Thomas to live a life of faith not just a moment of faith (John 20:29). But this story was not written for us to pick on Thomas, but for us to be called to faith. Faith is believing in that which we cannot see (Heb. 11:1). John would leave this topic with these words (READ John 20:30-31).
B. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Do believe that you can have life in his name? Do you believe enough to stop living in doubt and fear, and start living in faith and joy? It is great if that is where you are right now. Keep on keeping on. Let your faith and joy be evident to all. But if you need help in either growing in your faith or living in joy, then talk with us privately. If you need the prayers of this church, then come now as we stand and sing.
May God Bless You,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister