1998-09-17 - In the Crowd
The Cross Series, Part 53
John 20:24-25 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
Doubting Thomas. We sigh and shake our heads. Truth be known, we are more like him than we want to admit. The disciples who are now trying to encourage their friend Thomas were just as bad to Mary Magdalene and the others who were at the tomb. Mark 16:12 tells us that even the two who traveled the road to Emmaus with the risen Christ were not believed at first.
Mark 16:12 And after that, He appeared in a different form to two of them, while they were walking along on their way to the country.
Perhaps the other authors were too embarrassed to make that point. The years may have faded it from them too. But the Holy Spirit brings it to Mark's mind for us. The evidence seems to show that we, as a race, are pretty good at turning away good news. There is a saying that goes, 'If it's too good to be true, then it probably isn't true.' It is a fairly decent axiom to follow, especially if the other party has something to gain if you believe them. So the folks with the bumper stickers that read, 'Thank you for not sharing your personal religious beliefs with me.', are in very good company. There is safety in numbers. There is comfort in following the odds. But, from our perspective, what were the odds that Jesus would come and do what He did to redeem us? With God, the logic of odds becomes faulty.
The disciples are only rattled to the truth of Jesus' promise by the resurrected Lord entering a locked room in the middle. No tricks, no hidden lock picks were required. The Creator of the Universe simply wanted to make an unforgettable point. I think we've all been at the point where we have found ourselves doing something we never thought we would do. I'm not talking about bungee jumping, or pierced ears. I'm talking about coming to your spiritual senses just after denying, or not speaking up for Jesus. Or, realizing that you've been toying with sin and are standing on the brink or have stepped over the brink in to it. It is a humbling moment in our lives, often as embarrassing or sad as the emphasis with which Thomas refuses to listen.
Eight days later, Thomas was probably feeling pretty well-justified in his pronouncement when suddenly Jesus stood before him. Jesus shows Thomas He is aware of Thomas' denial by offering Thomas the wounds in His hands and side for Thomas to inspect. Thomas was filled with wonder and humility at the gentle rebuke.
John 20:28-29 Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Just like Peter who denied Jesus, the Lord restores Thomas. I doubt very seriously there were any sarcastic "I told you so's" from Thomas' friends. I doubt that Thomas actually took Jesus up on the offer to touch the wounds Jesus proffered. It was enough that Thomas had left the crowd and rejoined the few again.
So what about you? Are you willing to humble yourself and come back to Jesus? Do you think Jesus cares more about the sin or the missed opportunity to tell someone about Him than He cares about you? There will be a rebuke, but there will be no dismissal. Jesus wants you to learn from your mistakes, to grow in your understanding of Him and the new life He has given you. It's normal to be concerned, but be assured. If the parable of the two sons from Luke 15 is any indication, there is little else you can do to outreach the younger son. He was accepted back to the father's house as the son he was when he left.
Are you willing to bet eternity on the logic of the crowd?
Dear Lord - guard our hearts from our pride. Keep us mindful of the humble moments and broken times we have been through. These are gentle rebukes at Your hands to keep our pride from blinding us to what You have in store for us. Thank You for pulling us out and giving us the courage to leave the crowd and follow You. Give us the wisdom and strength to follow when things are against us. Fill us with Your grace when we must stand up for what we know is right. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.