John 20: 24-31 – The World in Front of the Text

rootedchristAfter our Holy Week together, through the next 50 days, leading up to Pentecost, we are going to take a deeper look each week at different encounters that individuals have with Jesus after the Resurrection.  This week we are going to take a deeper look at a story that I’m sure many of us are familiar with, or at least familiar with the nickname that emerged from it – Doubting Thomas.  Today we’ll look at the world in front of the text, what does this passage mean for us today:

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

I think for us, we find ourselves as those blessed who believe and have not seen.  We have not seen Jesus in the same way that Thomas did, that the other disciples did, that Paul did, and like so many others did. We experience Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we don’t see Him in the same way that they did.  So we believe even though we haven’t seen.

But here’s the thing.  We have seen, haven’t we?  We’ve seen God move.  I saw God move yesterday in the example of my home church, Johnston Chapel UMC when they went and sang outside of my mama’s door to wish her a Happy 91st Birthday. I see Jesus move through the efforts of my friend Greg Hazelrig as he leads people into ministry in downtown Memphis feeding the homeless and providing them care and compassion.  I see Jesus in the sacrifice of our health care workers who are on the front lines to help and serve so many.  We see Jesus each day.  Really, we do. We see him daily.

But, if we aren’t careful, we’ll be like Thomas here.  We give in to what we think we see.  It’s easy right now for us to doubt, for us to not see.  For us to not to believe.  For us to doubt.

We all go through periods of doubt at times.  I know that I have.  But we can’t allow the doubt to take our eyes, our hearts, our hope.  Doubt wants to rob us of that hope.  Thomas had allowed his doubt to keep him from believing what he had hoped for.  Jesus was alive.  He has risen.  That was what Thomas longed for. But doubt clouded his eyes.

He had to see.

So do we. But for us to see, we have to look.  Today, are you looking?  You will see and find Jesus.  If you look.  Today, look for Jesus.  In the Word.  In others.  He is whispering your name.  Today, look.

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