We know him as “Doubting Thomas”. Through the centuries, many preachers have called him that. (As do most of the hymns that speak of Thomas!) They have told you over and over that the Risen Jesus told Thomas, “Do not doubt, but believe.” How well we know that line! Except that’s not what Jesus said. Jesus never said anything to Thomas about doubt. In Matthew 14, when Peter tries to walk on water and sinks, Jesus, reaching out his hand saves him and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Whereas in John 20, when Jesus and Thomas meet in the upper room, Jesus lets Thomas touch his hands, feet and side and then says, “Don’t be without belief, rather believe.”
See, despite what millions of sermons by thousands of preachers have told you, doubting Thomas didn’t doubt, but rather he was “without belief.”
In John’s Gospel, BELIEF isn’t about an intellectual assent to some list of facts. Instead, belief is about a RELATIONSHIP. When Jesus died on the cross, so too did his relationship with Thomas. Thomas had believed in Jesus. When he became a follower of Jesus, Thomas had given Jesus his heart and his hope — and that belief couldn’t live beyond the grave. when Jesus died on the cross, WHO was there anymore for Thomas to have a relationship WITH?
Unless, that is, Jesus lived beyond the grave. So what is so hard to understand about the reaction of Thomas? Of course Thomas wanted proof that Jesus was really, truly alive before he handed his heart over to be burned again!
We all have doubts from time to time, that’s a normal part of living the life of faith, we shouldn’t begrudge Thomas for doubting (even if he didn’t). What Jesus longs for in this post-resurrection encounter with Thomas is that we all might believe in him by handing over our hearts and our hopes that he might bring them to the fullness of joy. That’s what living an Easter life is all about. That’s what Thomas wanted, he just needed to see it, touch it, experience it before he was willing to risk relationship again. Isn’t that true for us all?
And, even if you continue to think of him as “Doubting Thomas” (instead of as “broken-hearted Thomas”), please do give him credit as the very first to recognize Jesus as “My Lord and my God!” and to worship Him.
The lessons for this Second Sunday of Easter are Acts 5:12-32; Revelation 1:4-8; and John 20:19-31.
The hymns for this Sunday are great!
The Processional Hymn is “The Strife is O’er the Battle Done.”
The Hymn of the Day is that glorious hymn that we can only sing once a year: “O Sons and Daughters of the King” This hymn comes from the 15th century. The text is attributed to Jean Tisserand who died in 1494 A.D.
The Words are: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 1) O sons and daughters of the king, whom heav’nly hosts in glory sing, today the grave has lost its sting! Alleluia! // 2) That Easter morn, at break of day, the faithful women went their way to seek the tomb where Jesus lay. Alleluia! // 3) An angel clad in white they see, who sits and speaks unto the three, “Your Lord will go to Galilee.” Alleluia! // 4) That night th’apostles met in fear; among them came their master dear, and said, “My peace be with you here.” Alleluia! // 5) When Thomas first the tidings heard, that they had seen the risen Lord, He doubted the disciples’ word. Alleluia! // 6) “My pierced side, O Thomas, see, and look upon my hands, my feet; not faithless, but believing be.” Alleluia! // 7) No longer Thomas then denied; He sae the feet, the hands, the side; “You are my Lord and God! he cried. Alleluia! // 8) How blest are they who have not seen and yet whose faith has constant been, for they eternal life shall win. Alleluia! // 9) On this most holy day of days, be laud and jubilee and praise: To God your hearts and voices raise. Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
The Distribution Hymn is “What Feast of Love.”
The Recessional is the beloved hymn, “Christ is Risen, Alleluia!”
I look forward to worshiping with you this week.