Ten Minute Sermons
2nd Sunday of Easter: Doubting Thomas? No Believing Thomas
Doubting Thomas: I've never liked that name. It seems unfair to me to hang a descriptive moniker on someone for a single moment of human failing. But of course, this single moment is described by the Evangelist John as a singular moment in redemptive history.
Jesus has risen from the dead. That bears repeating…
Jesus has risen from the dead. He appears to his followers in a locked room and greets them. Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost". The Greek word used here for breathed, "em-foo-sah'-o", is used only one other time in the entire Bible.
When a word is used only once or twice in a book of the Bible, the author is clearly trying to draw attention to the particular nature of that word. Here, "em-foo-sah'-o" is used only twice in the all of scripture. John clearly wants us to recall Genesis 2:7, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Jesus is alive and has come to breathe life into those that believe in Him. John is being very clear here: Just as the LORD God breathed life into dust to form man, the resurrected Christ breathes life into our soiled condition. And not just life, not just reanimation, we are living souls: able to be in full communion, full relationship, with LORD God.
How absolutely extraordinary: It seems rather fantastic. I don't blame Thomas for having doubts.
Look at it from Thomas' viewpoint: Jesus is dead. We know He died, we know they stabbed His liver to make sure that He was dead, we know He was sealed in a tomb: He's dead…over…done with. Thomas is grieving for his lost teacher. The crowd had turned against his master, is the crowd looking for them, the core group of disciples, as well? These are dark times for Thomas.
And now his friends are joyously telling him that Jesus is alive? Not only alive, Jesus has breathed out to them the Holy Ghost just as LORD God did in the beginning of the world? "Are you telling me we are witnessing a new act of creation: through Jesus we are experiencing renewal of our very relationship with God?" Incredible!
Now, I know that Jesus had taught the disciples how the Son of Man was to die and rise three days hence. I know Jesus taught the twelve about His special relationship with the Father. But I'm sure you have friends or loved ones that you tell them one thing but they interpret what you have said in their own context. You've said it, they heard it, but they don't get it.
Well, much was the same with the disciples. In the locked room on Easter after Jesus appeared Christ first showed them his hands and his side, and then [only then] did the disciples rejoice when they saw the Lord. The disciples didn't know it was Jesus until they saw His wounds. Given this seemingly unbelievable news, how can we blame Thomas for wanting to see those wounds as well? But yet, we label him "Doubting Thomas".
But there is a better descriptor for Thomas. Here in verse 28 we have the climax of John's Gospel account. John's entire account is an apologetic so the reader would know that from the beginning the Word was with God and the Word, Christ, was God. And here, having seen the crucified Jesus in the flesh Thomas exclaims, "My Lord and my God!"
The same words used in Genesis 2:7: "Lord…God".
He's not "Doubting Thomas": he is "Believing Thomas". He throws out the punch line of John's whole Gospel. This is a new creation, this is regeneration: Jesus is breathing life into our soiled souls. And Jesus can do this, because Jesus was there at the first creation. He is divine: one with the Father and the Holy Ghost.
And then the discourse turns to you. Jesus said, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed".
You can have your doubts. I know there are times when a fallen intellect wrestles with a broken heart: it is only human. But you still believe, and Jesus calls you "blessed". Blessed, set aside for God and His purposes: Glorified before the Throne of Grace.
The Living Son of God breathes, "em-foo-sah'-o", upon you and gives you life everlasting: A living soul that can fully experience an abundant relationship with your creator. You have surrendered your spirit to His Spirit and you believe.
You are blessed, thanks be to God!