04/07/13 Unless I See ...

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Under: Sermon

Text: John 20:24-29 (NKJV)

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."  26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. John 20:27

Intro: Have you ever known a doubting Thomas? Someone who just doesn’t believe, someone who doesn’t believe in a whole lot of anything. Someone who spends more energy complaining and doubting than allowing a little faith to make their life a whole lot better. Someone who looks at their proverbial cup in life as half empty not half full. A real pessimist! 

Thomas had to see to believe, I wonder how many people would be Christians if they saw what Thomas did. Wouldn’t it be great if people could see Jesus in you? Just a thought – a Biblical thought. 

Application: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

1. Thomas Was a Strong Doubter & an Honest Skeptic: He had been negative to begin with - there was no way he was going to accept the Resurrection. He demanded physical evidence, which he never expected to see. Doubt grows by what it feeds upon. There was never any question of where he stood. His words are negative but exactly what he felt Honest doubt is better than fake faith.

This Thomas person was frustrated! He had not been with the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. Like so many today, he staunchly refused to believe that Jesus had actually risen from the dead. The disciples testified and bore witness to the glorious truth. They kept on telling him, and telling him and he refused to believe.  Thomas became stiffnecked and obstinate in his unbelief. He even argued against their testimony, and he argued with deep intensity. He was deeply aggravated and frustrated, feeling great disappointment and guilt. The depth of his aggravation and guilt is seen in his repulsive shout, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."  Persistent doubt always delays the blessings.

Thomas had a false picture of Jesus. Thomas had always thought in terms of an earthly Messiah or Savior who would make things better upon this earth and in this life. He had become a follower of Jesus thinking that an earthly kingdom was to be set up and that he was to be a leader in that kingdom. He refused to see beyond the human and physical things of this world. He saw   Jesus only as the man who was nailed to the cross and had a spear thrust into His side and was now dead.  This false picture of Jesus lead to unbelief, you can’t help but wonder how so many picture Jesus. Jesus is more than a great teacher, a great prophet, a great man and a great founder of a religion. He is even more than the greatest man who ever lived. All such beliefs - no matter how highly they esteem Jesus - are false beliefs, for they see Jesus only as a man. They see Him as one of the greatest men who ever lived, but they still see Him only as a man. He is the lamb of God who takes away sin. 

2. Thomas Was an Astonished Witness & Confirmed Convert:

“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!” Christ appeared in the room, He invited Thomas to do what he had claimed he would require. There is no record Thomas took Him up on the invitation, Christ’s presence made a touch unnecessary. 

His encounter with Christ answered his questions and solved his problems. He makes an amazing statement that goes beyond Peter’s expression, the change here is dynamic and dramatic - it comes from seeing Christ.  “And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus appeared and challenged and convicted Thomas. The doors were again shut and locked. Suddenly, unexpectedly, without notice, Jesus stood in the midst of the disciples. Again He eased their shock by giving the normal greeting: "Peace be unto you." And then He turned immediately to confront Thomas.  Jesus revealed that He knew all about Thomas' unbelief and demands. He used the very same words that Thomas had demanded:  "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."

Can I tell you a little secret? Jesus knows every man's heart: his despair, doubts, fears, hope, love. He knows where and when to strike at a man's heart.  Wait it gets better - Thomas was where Jesus could reach him. He was in the presence of believers listening to their testimony. He had not shut them out despite his questions.  Jesus warned and called for belief. Thomas had been walking down a dangerous road. The disciples had witnessed to him time and again, but he had refused time and again to accept their testimony.  You are running the risk of becoming faithless and unbelieving, beyond the point of believing. You have carried your unbelief too far. It is now time to stop the foolishness. The others have been witnessing and witnessing the truth to you. Stop the stiffnecked, obstinate unbelief. You are in danger.  John 3:15 “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

3. Thomas Was a Typical Disciple & Is a Challenging Figure:

We tend to look down on him because of his fleshly demand, actually all the other disciples were the same. Others, unnamed, were more praiseworthy. To this point, everyone had seen, and then believed. Thomas shows us the deepest unbelief he had been with Christ, seen His miracles.  He shows us the greatest conversion, He shows us the way - belief in Christ. Belief provides the greatest evidence.

Thomas was a typical Disciple, and many who are part of the church and honoring a need for discipling will run into this type of challenge. Jesus accepts no half-way commitments, Thomas figured that out (Before it was too late!) "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

What is the great lesson here? To believe without having to see evidences and proof. To believe because of love and care and because of the need and nature of the human heart. To believe because of the need for morality and godly character.  To believe because godly witnesses say so.  To believe because of the inner witness of the heart.

Thomas ceased being obstinate and rebellious when he saw Jesus and after Jesus had rebuked him. Thomas had been at fault; he had been faithless, and his unbelief was inexcusable. The men who had proclaimed the truth to him were not liars. Neither could they all have been deceived. Thomas had just refused to believe because he did not want to believe. He had acted intellectually superior and had been about to lose his soul.

Conclusion:  1 John 4:15 “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

The person who believes without seeing demonstrates ...

•  a strength of character.
•  a tenderness and warmth of heart.
•  a sensitivity to the witness of the Holy Spirit.
•  an awareness to the order and beauty of all the world.

Therefore, that person will be blessed with a very special joy, a joy unspeakable and full of glory. When a person truly sees what Jesus has done, or when a person is rebuked by the Spirit of Christ, they must cease their unbelief. You must turn to Christ, for the Lord's Spirit will not always strive with men.

Thomas said, “Come on, get real!” Jesus said, “I am real; see for yourself.” You say, “Come on, I can’t see: That this is real; how this is going to work; Why something like this should make a difference; what difference this can possibly make.” In most of life, to see is to believe. In the spiritual life, to believe is to see. I am real see for yourself!

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