Second Sunday of Easter
John 20: 24-29 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus) one of the 12, was not with the disciples when Jesus came, so the other disciples told him, "W have seen the LORD!" But he sad to them "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My LORD and my GOD!" Then Jesus told him "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
MOST LIKELY TO BE NEGATIVE.....THOMAS
May wife decided some time ago that she would have knee joint replacement when she got to the point in her life where pain and movement restrictions just could no longer be tolerated. So this past week she had that surgery done. She was the patient, but I learned some new things about myself.
Month, maybe years before, my wife faced up to the facts of orthopedic surgery, did the reading and studied about what they have to do in surgery long before it all began to sink in for me. I was there, I went as far as they would let me go, but she had to face the facts of surgery and I remained in the waiting room.
As a pastor, I knew a lot of the process that happens in the prep room, the repeated questions each nurse, ansthetist, lab tech and the doctor that comes by (asks) insuring that you are actually the one undergoing what's coming in surgery. I prayed with my wife, then was asked if I knew my way back to the waiting area. I may be a pastor, but it's impossible to be the pastor to your spouse. There are too many variables, so you leave your spouse in the hands of many capable professionals that you've only come to know for maybe two or three minutes. You walk in the opposite direction and you have to trust. We'll leave this scene here and begin a brief encounter with Thomas.
"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands a put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I WILL NOT BELIEVE!"
Thomas is the "Glass Half Empty" disciple...with a side order of trust issues. Maybe, like Thomas, some of us refuse to believe anything unless we see it with our own eyes....unless we experience it ourselves.
I'm not sure if Thomas could have waited in a hospital waiting area. From what we know about him and there are only a handful of references found in the Scriptures, it seems that Thomas has a certain gloomy spirit.
- There's the scene in John's Gospel when Jesus told His disciples He was going to see Lazarus who had recently died. Thomas assumed the likely outcome would be death for all of the followers. "Then let us go that we may die with hm."
-The second incident was when Jesus said the disciples should know where HE was going (Heaven). Jesus' discourse about going to prepare a place for you...and Thomas replied, "nope don't have a clue."
-The third incident was the most notable...Jesus appearing again to the Disciples following His resurrection. Thomas is told second hand that Jesus is alive and has been with the Disciples already. Somehow Thomas was on an errand and missed out on that first reunion. Now, unconvinced and maybe a trifle disgusted at having been left out, claims "I will not believe", unless shown the wounds on his Master. (John 20:25)
There may be trust issues that some of us have faced in our lives very similar to Thomas. Some may have come about due to our immaturity in life. Some may have come from misunderstandings. Some may have come from confusing and fast paced events that we find ourselves in from time to time in life.
For example, the nurse caring for Ardith on Thursday came hustling in, suggesting we look over the discharge orders from the hospital. There are seven pages listing meds, physical therapy directions, follow-up Dr. visits, precautions to watch for at home, and on and on and on. The nurse looked over at me and said you can't take these prescriptions with you and go pick up these meds before we release Ardith. I'm like looking wide eyed back at the nurse, thinking I my mind... you actually think I can go collect all these meds on my own? How in the world am I to do that???
Seeing my worried look, the nurse assured me all I had to do was hand the pages to the pharmacist and they'd fill the orders and all would be fine. I started out on my mission semi-confidently...and made it to the local Walgreens store. But standing in line at the pharmacy window with thirteen people flying around talking on phones, taking drive-up window orders and asking fast-paced questions began to shake my confidence.
It is just wya easier to be negative in life than to look for the positive aspects, the positive outcomes. I'm next in line. "Have you ordered prescription at Walgreens before?" No. Are these prescriptions for you or a family member? Yes, my wife. Her name? Ardith. Her Social Security number? And that's where I become seriously negative. I haven't a clue. I'll phone her up at the hospital. When Ardith answers, I hand my phone to the nice Pharmacist a d she collects her required information. I'm thinking..."Why didn't I just have Aridth's Medicare and Insurance Card with me and all this would be an ant hill rather than this impossible mountain." I'm becoming more and more negative by the second.
I turn and look over the rows of pharmacy store inventory and realize my glasses aren't allowing my eyes to focus and read the aisle signs and I'm thinking...gee, I'm getting old and run down. Besides my brain, now my eyes aren't working properly. What's going to give out next?
One of the preaching instructions I remember is that in revealing personal issues in any sermon, it's acceptable to speak about scars, but not open wounds. Scars come from past life experiences, wounds may still be open and raw.
Thomas is said to have had "trust issues". So do some of us here today. Why couldn't I summon up a well-placed prayer to the Master of the Universe, to the Eternal an Heavenly God Head. Maker and Creator of all time and space...simply asking for a tiny bit of patience while standing at the Pharmacy counter in Walgreens? Patience for myself. No need to belittle one's self. Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone has their moments when things are confusing and out of focus. "I won't believe until I see."
Jesus has the power to overcome tough trust issues. He certainly did for Thomas. Jesus spoke directly to Thomas... "Put your finger here! See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting. Trust. Believe.
And instantly, Thomas said, "MY LORD AND MY GOD!"
What I your "trust issue"? What do you actually have to see to believe?
The final verse in today's scripture text give us something to trust in. The very words of the Son of God, Jesus said to Thomas "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET BELIEVE.
My Lord and My God! Why did I ever doubt You. Thank You Jesus. Thank You Jesus!