Can we take a moment to imagine what it would have been like to be a disciple of Jesus in the week following His arrest and death at Calvary? What would have been your emotions as events unfolded.
First of all Jesus prophesied that His sheep would be scattered and would desert Him. If you believe that you would have been firm in your faith then the evidence of the bible is that you would have been like Peter. Boastful but unable to match your boast with right action.
If you are one who is not sure how you would act then the bible tells you what would have happened. You would not have been at the foot of the cross! None of us would have been! That's the record of the bible events. We would have been afraid. We need the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus!
Ah, you say at least I would not have been like 'Doubting Thomas'. I would have believed when I was told that He had risen. It's interesting that the actual events showed that no-one of His close disciples believed without seeing! Thomas gets the bad press because He was isolated on His own and was the last to believe but let's look at those events again.
Mary of Magdalene runs to the upper room after she saw Jesus and when they finally let her in she tells the disciples there that she has seen Jesus alive. Not one person believes her! When you get home you can check the other gospels besides John to see if there was one odd believer somewhere. You'll find that there was not one! ALL the disciples thought she was crazy!
In the gospel of Mark Chapter16 verse11 the scriptures tell us that they did not believe Mary! And, in luke 24:11 we are told that the disciples thought that what Mary said was nonsense! Even when Cleopas and the other disciple who was probably his wife Mary came back from Emmaus and told them they had walked and talked with and seen Jesus the 10 disciples did not believe! Do you really think that you would have been any different? I don't think that I would have been different given the same circumstances.
Mary his mother and Lazarus who was not in the inner circle but who had been raised from the dead may have been the only one who pondered these things in their heart with a stirring of hope and belief, but that's just my conjecture. I'll leave you to decide who might have or might not have wondered if it could be true! Certainly the inner circle of believers were rebuked by Jesus according tio the record in Mark 16, verse 14 for their unbelief!
During these events on the Sunday that Jesus was resurrected Thomas was not present so he was acting on hearsay evidence from the other disciples. Just as they had done before they saw Jesus personally he did not believe. He even said that unless he could feel the nail prints and put his hand in Jesus' side he would not believe.
We have to remember that to have Jesus, your Rabbi and hero taken from you and killed was not just traumatic, it was to them a spiritual disappointment. They did not believe or expect that the Messiah could die. He was supposed to rescue the nation from under the heel of the Romans. He was supposed to set up a new kingdom that would never end. He was not supposed to die!
So imagine if you were the one who did not have the early vision of jesus but you have been left stewing for a week believing that he is dead. At the same time you're wondering how all the disciples and Mary, Jesus' mother and Mary of Magdelene and Mary, Cleopas's wife and Salome, Jesus' aunty could all believe he was alive when patently he wasn't walking around with them like he had been for the last three and a half years? It cann't be true, but why are they so upbeat? Is it a mass hallucination or could it really be true. But God is no respecter of persons, so why would you be left out? It just doesn't make sense!
Then on th e eighth day after His ressurection when you are with the other disciples, suddenly, Jesus is standing there too and saying, “Peace be with you!” Then he turns to you, YOU, and he says, “Put your finger here … Reach out your hand …” And then he says, “Stop doubting and believe.” What an incredible experience! Can you imagine it. That's what the resurrection of Jesus would have been like if you were a disciple then.
But then Jesus says, “Blessed are they who do not see and still believe”.
THAT'S US TODAY! That's EVERY believer under the sound of my voice!
YOU ARE THE BLESSED OF GOD!
“WE”, ARE THE BLESSED OF GOD!
And beyond the knowledge that Jesus our Messiah is alive, we have the HOLY SPIRIT in us to enable us and empower us to follow Jesus whatever may come our way. NOW we can say that “In Jesus and With Jesus and Through The Holy Spirit we stand at the foot of the cross. We don't doubt, we believe. Like Mary his mother and Lazarus who had that first hand knowledge of Jesus and his power we live by faith in the Son of God and are empowered by His grace.
On Doubting Thomas Sunday we don't just think of Thomas before His encounter with the risen Christ, we empathise with him and declare with him our belief; saying: “My Lord and my God!”
And Jesus responds with an affirmation. We are accepted in the beloved. And we are graced by the added blessing for believers who have not seen him but do believe.
What a wonderful situation to be in as a believer today. May the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.