Let us pray: Dear Savior, even though believing is hard on our end of the equation, it is miraculous from Your end. For us our senses get involved in simple faith and emotions get jumbled together so doubt sets in. But from Your vantage point it is simply an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who calms our fears and banishes all doubt—as a free gift to us born of Your grace. Today, do just that once more as You strengthen and uplift our faith. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR RESURRECTED LORD CHRIST!
TEXT: John 20: 24-29
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
If you look carefully at all the gospel accounts of what happened after Christ’s resurrection and the reaction of the believers one thing stands out: In every instance their first reaction was: doubt. It was followed by fear and trepidation. That’s an emotional response.
Emotions are always present. They help make us human. There are positive and negative emotions. Emotions are generated by our conscious and sub-conscious mind. Some are learned, some are inherited from our past family. Some we process rather quickly. Others take a lifetime—especially if they are traumatic. BTW, I recall the first time I learned that sneezing is often the result of your body processing some emotion! Rarely is it merely the result of “a cold coming on.”
Last Sunday in Mark’s Gospel we heard about the women at the tomb and their emotional response to its emptiness and both the appearance and words of the angel announcing the resurrection. It was one of fear and doubt. We’re told they left: “Trembling and bewildered because they were afraid.” So, too, when Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene. However, in her case, she got over the shock rather quickly. Did she let out a giant sneeze? Likewise the disciples later that day and also that night when Jesus first appeared to them in the Upper Room. Huge, amazing, miraculous happenings cause corresponding emotional reactions. The first being: doubt.
So, it should come as no surprise that Thomas, who was absent that night, doubted the words of the others when first told of the resurrection. In fact, he “doubles down” on his doubt and rather arrogantly exclaims to them: “Unless I put my fingers in his nail marks, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” This is how he tries to handle his initial emotional reaction. He would only trust AFTER he had verified! In this he shows that God’s Word of promise and Christ’s resurrection wasn’t enough for him. The question for you is: Is it enough for me?
Thomas was in a huge funk those days immediately following Easter. His emotions of grief, shame, and inner anger at it all, overwhelmed him. He needed to be alone and sort it all out. A week later we find him with the disciples in the Upper Room.—Apparently he was over some of that funk. Again, Jesus appears among them announcing those glorious words: “Peace be with you.” Peace is an emotional state of being, isn’t it? Immediately, Christ addresses Thomas be repeating his own words: “Put your finger here; see my hand. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
With those words Jesus shames Thomas and also brings positive peace to his agitated state. God’s Word have inherent power to calm our emotions and replace the negative ones with uplifting ones. Thomas’ response makes that crystal clear: “My Lord, and my God.” And so it is to every believer touched by His grace. Doubt vanishes in the presence of the Gospel and peace and joy take its place.
You and I are Thomas. Everyone can relate to Thomas. We live in a world just as chaotic as theirs. We see wars, injustice, immorality, death and every other negative circumstance known to man. One thing we don’t see with our senses is: God. So we get angry with God and our emotional response is to doubt His goodness for us and even to doubt His words of resurrection. And yet, like Thomas and the others, our loving Lord seeks to calm our fears and anxiety. On the cross He made peace with us by paying for all our sins. And then He confirmed it by His physical resurrection from the dead! Then, to make all this personal He says to you today: “Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed!” Upon hearing those words, Thomas and the others never looked back, and by grace neither will you!
Some people think that Christian faith is an emotion. It’s not. It is based on certainty and fact. God’s Word IS certainty and fact. Emotions are man-made. Our faith is God made. It links us with the God-Man Who saved us. So take Jesus’ Words to heart when He says to you: “Stop doubting and believe!” Amen
THE peace of God which….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox