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good morning friends how you doing today I love it we had an adventure in the first service something was replaying my own voice to me behind me but about six seconds after I said anything uh which means I’m one of the few people in the world to have interrupted themselves I was just sitting there at moments just thinking what what is this is this brilliant everyone has to listen to me twice or is this terrible I can’t process anything I’m saying and we decided to cut the second alex and all was well after that we are in a series uh called riptide why easter changes everything for everybody we are going almost day by day hour by hour with these resurrection or post-resurrection appearances of Jesus primarily to his earliest followers and just asking what is happening here there’s this moment where resurrection happens and nobody knows about it it’s changed everything and then Jesus begins to pull everyone back into this story those that are on the fringe of it those are almost disappearing from it Jesus pulls them back in and today we get to look at this fascinating character so I will read his story now thomas also known as didymus one of the twelve was not with the disciples when Jesus came so the other disciples told him we have sinned the lord he said to them unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hands 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 in my side stop doubting and believe thomas said to him my lord and my God then Jesus told him blessed be sorry because you have seen me you have believed blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed God as we get into this text would you please speak to us we come with all sorts of different concerns or in all sorts of different places some of us come feeling deeply afflicted and need comfort we pray for that some of us come deeply comfortable and we need afflicting we pray for that God would you speak to each of us and move us on our journey with you amen before we get into this text let me just say there may be a question you might have especially if you’re fairly new to south of do we not talk more about mother’s day in the service on mother’s day and the answer is we don’t and and primarily that might be because of me and and my sense that one we have this liturgical calendar for a reason we’re following this journey from easter through to pentecost we’ll end pentecost with baptisms if you would like to get baptized if you have experienced life change that is something we would love to celebrate with you but mother’s day is one of those interesting things kind of like father’s day if you are in joy at the moment if you maybe have had a child this year if you are sat next to your own mother right now sat next to one of your own kids right now mother’s day is a joy it is a great space and whatever we do this morning it will still be a great space and you will still experience joy but it might be that this year that you lost a child it might be this year that you lost a mother it might be this year that you have longed to have a child and that isn’t part of your journey right now and so for you mother’s day is a sadness and so our prayer for you is that God brings comfort that God lifts you up and that you experience his love and joy but is mother’s day a huge part of alleged liturgy it isn’t we are in this process of moving from easter through to pentecost looking how like a tide like this powerful thing Jesus pulls people into the story and we just read the story about thomas also known as didymus one of the sort of forgotten of the 12 disciples Jesus gathered these 12 followers maybe you know some of the names you know peter you know john you know james maybe a couple of others thomas you maybe know but just for one particular reason he’s introduced to us here as didymus so my first question is this have you had a nickname have you had a nickname have you had a thing that people have added to you said this is this is what we’re going to call you as I think there’s something fascinating about them some of it is generational uh when I was on a trip to haiti we had about 15 of us in a in a van just going from one place to another and we just observed generationally people of a certain generation tenta and a phone have their name in the context their loved one their partner their husband their wife down as the full name so you might have first name and last name and then there was this sort of change in generation my generation I was just first named laura’s just in my phone as laura and we began to go around the the bus and just say what what do you have your husband and wife down in your phone house and we got to one of the younger people on the trip and when we got to her she just went bright red like a beetroot and she just looked at us and said I don’t think I can say it out loud to everyone on the bus there was obviously some name that was personal to them that they kept secret on their phones we have nicknames in popular culture this of course is dwayne johnson known as the rock what a great nickname if I want to if I have a nickname I’d want to be the rock this is val kilmer playing dark holiday dark was not his real name his real name was john holliday a little bit more boring he was known as doc for the most boring of reasons as well as being a gangster and a legendary gunfighter he was also a dentist you have to you have to be able to do different things to survive so he’s he’s also a dentist so he became known as doc holliday and then here’s one uh from back over my side of the pond uh the queen is known in correspondence as london bridge as london bridge so if she were to die the the press release would simply say london bridge has fallen and we’d know that this tragic day had come when this wonderful woman is no longer around nicknames uh appear for all sorts of reasons the first nickname I had was panda because it rhymed with alexander that was a four-year-old five-year-old nickname and then somewhat embarrassingly my next next nickname was tubster because I had a belly that stuck out when I was six or seven and I struggled with this I I remember saying to my mom like why is my brother’s belly flat and mine isn’t and she just very sweet he said that’s just the way God made you it’s absolutely fine but that was how I was known to my friends as a as an eight-year-old and then as I started to develop my own faith and would talk about it in the workplace the last nickname I ever had was was priest was priest thomas goes by the nickname didymus which simply means twin many of us may have had nicknames but I’m guessing you probably haven’t had an epithet thomas goes from someone who’s known by a nickname and becomes known as an epithet an epithet is something that gets added to your name as an extra thing some famous ones would be alexander the great or catherine the great pretty boring at this point they’re just the great because quite often you get an epithet for doing something significant sometimes something good and then sometimes something not so good in in homer’s tales odysseus is known as the great teller of tales every pastor I know would like that sort of thing added to the name I want to be alex the great the great teller of tales there is ivan the terrible another famous one and then this one thomas the doubter or doubting thomas the reason we know thomas the one reason that he’s well known in the story in amongst stories about peter and james and john seems to be because thomas is the disciple that doesn’t have faith he’s the one that doesn’t believe if we go back a little bit earlier in the story on the evening of that first day of the week when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the jewish leaders Jesus came and stood amongst them and said peace be with you after he said this he showed them his hands and side the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the lord now thomas known as dittomus twin was one of the twelve was not one of the disciples was not with the disciples when Jesus came so the other disciples told him we have seen the lord but he said 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 thomas was known as twins simply because he lived in a time where lots of people they didn’t have surnames you needed something to know that you were talking about the right person you might add the name of a town that they were born you might add the father something like that that gave them some distinction thomas is simply known as twin but we come to know him as doubting thomas even if you’re unfamiliar with the bible if you’ve never read anything particularly in this area you may know that just that is a piece of language that we use don’t be such a doubting thomas is something that we might say thomas twin becomes doubting thomas but he said to them unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were and put my hand into his side I will not believe thomas doesn’t fit as a disciple or what we picture the disciples as because of this right if you’re a follower of Jesus you should have this endless faith thomas why don’t you believe everybody else believes now why not you for some of us we might look at tom’s story and say no thomas come on you can do better than this why why are you the one that’s denying all this why are you the one that’s holding out on Jesus post resurrection I sometimes think that we see thomas as being an early version of this guy from this wonderful movie hook I do not believe in fairies every time someone says I do not believe in fury somewhere there is a fairy that falls down dead I do not believe in fairies

oh my God I think I killed it are you alive little bug look so this story is is is about peter pan grown up the boy that should never grow up has grown up and and at this point is a cynical sort of middle-aged man he’s like I don’t believe in fairies and and when told that a fairy will drop down dead if he says something like this he yells out loud even louder no I don’t believe in fairies I think this is a little bit at times in church how we see thomas if we know anything about him Jesus has come back he has risen again he’s appeared to the other disciples and when they tell him thomas response is I do not believe in Jesus resurrection he may as well be saying something like I do not believe in fairies we almost believe that somehow thomas in his denying of who Jesus is will do some kind of damage to Jesus we see him in this entirely negative sense and then thomas gets his redemption story a week later the decide his disciples were in the house again and thomas was with them though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood amongst 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 gets the thing that maybe so many of us would say if we’re honest we would love I would love to see Jesus resurrected in the flesh I would love to be able to make physical contact if I could only do that everything would be fine I had this friend that I used to work with when we were in our 20s and we would finish shifts late at night and he had no car so I would drive him home and then we would sit late into the night just having conversations about life and faith and danny would say he had no particular faith but he would say this if only I could know for certain I’d stop I’d give up everything anything that Jesus wanted I would happily do if only I could have some kind of certainty I think like we see thomas danny would say if only I could touch if only I could feel it’s interesting that almost all of the post-resurrection experiences have some kind of physicality to them Jesus eats things Jesus touches things people can touch him it seems that the writers of scripture are very keen that we know Jesus isn’t some kind of ghost or something like that some kind of apparition there is a real resurrection in this moment thomas asks to touch and he gets to touch he gets that joy but Jesus will then say to him something like you have believed because you have touched them because you’ve seen but blessed almost better is the person who believes when they haven’t got to see all of you and me we are in this line of thinking better because we believe without touching without seeing we have a different kind of faith is this a good reading of the passage that we just read is this what the writer john is trying to get us to sort of understand is he saying something as simple as this faith is good and doubt is bad and when thomas is doubting this is negative and when thomas decides to stop doubting then he steps into goodness positivity does this reading make sense is thomas the weak link disciple does he have a faith that’s less than the rest of the disciples is there something about him that seems inherently sort of broken is he just lacking in trust is this a rebuke of thomas is Jesus coming to him and saying thomas you have not done well and and now thomas finally believes and this point is like okay it would have been nice had you believe me beforehand but I can kind of see why you wouldn’t and now I’m kind of pleased with you on some kind of level I think that’s close to the reading that I grew up with when thomas doesn’t believe he’s not doing things well when he does believe everything is fixed everything is better and that doubt is bad and that faith is good and thomas if only you could just move from doubt to faith and everyone else sitting there in chairs if only you could just move from doubt to faith everything would be fine I think I’ve read thomas as almost this entirely negative character as a child I think I understood him as someone who was less than and doubting thomas seemed like a good name for him but based on what else we know about thomas is doubting an epithet that he deserves thomas doesn’t appear much in the stories again peter james john they’re the heroes so often of the disciples and sometimes the villains of the disciples thomas is almost just he’s just absent he gets made known in the lists of disciples but he doesn’t really do a lot except for one time Jesus is about to make at least in the mind of his disciples a very curious decision he’s been doing his ministry outside of judah or jerusalem specifically in places where it’s a little safer last week we talked about the difference between jerusalem and emmaus jerusalem is where everything happens and emmaus is a tiny village where nothing happens and Jesus for some reason has been doing most of his work in these tiny little villages and then he says to his disciples we’re going to make a shift he’s heard that his friend lazarus is sick and so we’re told john chapter 11 if you’re following along when Jesus heard that lazarus was sick he stayed where he was two more days and then he said to his disciples let’s go back to judah or judea there’s going to be a protest and if you were going to suggest that one of the disciples has some kind of weak linked faith one of the disciples is less than the others one of the disciples is negative and finds it hard to believe things you would expect right that thomas is going to be the one that says no this Jesus is a bad idea but look what happens in this passage but rabbi the disciples as a whole said a short while ago the jews there tried to stone you and yet you are going back as a whole group the disciples said Jesus the plan is bad we need a better plan going back to this area is not good for your health and by extension is probably not good for our health and Jesus in his brilliant Jesus-like way gives them an answer that seems to us as a it seems like a complete and unsequited I can imagine these disciples sort of looking at him saying Jesus you’re not really answering our concerns when you respond in this way Jesus answered are there not 12 hours of daylight okay yes I will go with you on that one anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble for they see by the world’s light it is when a person walks at night that they stumble for they have no light I could picture the disciples sort of going huh yeah okay it doesn’t again doesn’t necessarily address the concern they don’t like the plan they’re very honest about their dislike of the plan the plan does not seem good to them and yet Jesus of course will have his way and Jesus will do what he feels his father is calling him to do and so what happens now in this moment there’s a chance for one of them to speak up one of them to somewhat support Jesus and who is it it’s our friend doubting thomas thomas also known as didymus just so we know that we’re not mistaken said to the rest of the disciples let us also go that we may die with him thomas other big moment other than his moment of doubting is in this moment where Jesus presents a plan that seems fundamentally flawed in this moment where Jesus says we’re going to go back to judah and in a moment when every single one of the disciples is like this is bad thomas thomas is the one that says now let’s go with him if he dies we’ll die with him there’s this phrase that’s come up in modern language uh fairly recently it’s this one ride or die now it doesn’t necessarily mean originally what it has come to mean now originally the language of ride or die was what it was to love something so much you couldn’t imagine life without doing that thing so my uncle I never got to meet him he died before I was born was actually a motogp rider he used to go racing grand prix this is him on the isle of man tt this legendary race ended up crashing into a tree in a for in a grand prix in 1952 he he loved this and he lived for this and his brothers lived for this too even when they got older and they were still bachelors you would go to their house and when you walked into their their living room there was no television just a radio playing sports results and on the coffee table they would just have an engine block and they would just sit there like tinkering away with it just working away together there’s fairly good reasons they never got married trust me it was just it was kind of inevitable I would suggest but this language of ride or die has come to mean something else it’s come to be language that you use about someone that you can rely on even in the worst of situations in monday language you might say something like this person is my ride or die when I’m in the worst of times they will still be there if I go through anything this is a person I will guarantee I I can rely on thomas when we read him in the rest of john’s gospel he’s not doubting thomas a better epithet for me might be thomas the ride or die guy thomas is the guy that’s like no let us go with him that we might die with him that doesn’t seem like someone who is inherently prone to doubt what I would suggest has happened to thomas is this and let us remind ourselves for a second who thomas is we tend to think of the disciples I think as mostly people in their maybe 40s 50s we see pictures of them with big long beards sometimes just thrown in with a little bit of gray and that’s our picture thomas was probably 16 17 years old when he started following Jesus the oldest of Jesus followers was probably peter or maybe 21 but the rest of them were talking about guys in their teenage years maybe you can remember back to a time of life that you could easily commit to things and thomas is all in on following Jesus he is so committed to Jesus and who he who he is so committed that when Jesus comes up with a plan that seems to be bad the plan that could end up in death thomas response is let’s go with him if he’s going to die let’s die with him and then Jesus has died and suddenly everything thomas hopes that Jesus might do dies with him every single possibility might be created in the world is now no longer a possibility thomas has believed in Jesus so deeply and now there’s no possibility of any of those things happening have you been there now maybe it’s not in faith maybe it is maybe you’ve had moments of faith or you’ve said I just don’t know if I can believe this thing anymore maybe you’ve had moments of interaction with church and said I don’t know if I can sign up to do this again maybe you’ve been in a relationship that didn’t work out and said I don’t know if I can trust myself again maybe you’ve tried something and it’s just not worked out maybe you’ve had all of these hopes and you see them all crushed and you end up somewhere where thomas is right now how can he opt into believing in Jesus again when the other disciples come to him and say thomas we have seen Jesus his response is no I didn’t miss it I didn’t see I didn’t miss it because there is nothing there’s nothing to believe in anymore I can’t get on board with this any more for thomas he is in a place where how can he possibly believe that any of the hopes that he’d had before can ever be recovered there’s just nothing it’s just hopeless when we think about doubt I would suggest there’s probably two very different types of doubt maybe there’s more but I’m going to give you two there’s definitely head down there’s that intellectual conversation that we all have that questions things that we process things we say I’m not sure what I believe about this but then I would suggest there’s another kind of doubt there’s also heart doubt there’s also something maybe it’s even stomach but somewhere there there’s that almost gutter or feeling of just there’s something not right there’s something broken about this thing this situation is just it’s just not what it’s supposed to be God how have you let it get to here we sang that song didn’t we for those of you that were singing with us we sang that song all my life you have been faithful and sometimes I sing that song and I’m like oh wow yes you have absolutely I see all of these places God you have been so faithful in your goodness and then if I’m honest there’s times where I’m like huh I can see faithfulness in the past and I can even believe maybe that there might be faithfulness in the future but right now this situation why is this faithful why is this right why is this good why is this fair all of these different questions that come up there is head doubt that every single person has most of the time just to encourage you a little bit if you’re a theist someone who believes deeply in God and you just wonder about questions you have it was a joy to me to hear that atheists have the same sort of doubts that we have as well c.s lewis said this when I was an atheist I had moods in which christianity looked terribly probable he as someone who said there is no God said oh I am terrified when I get too far down an intellectual rabbit hole I start saying oh man maybe the whole thing is true this is almost a universal experience we have these questions we wrestle with them and all of those different things and and Jesus wrestled with this too or at least was challenged on this look at this fascinating passage matthew chapter four then the devil took him Jesus to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple if you are the son of God he said throw yourself down for it is ridden he will command his angels concerning you and they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike strike your feet against a stone it’s if language right is this really true can you really believe this you keep saying to people you’re the son of God do you realize how that sounds to everybody there’s head down and then there’s heart doubt and the sad news is or the hard news is maybe maybe the uncomfortable news for you is that Jesus experienced that too about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice eli eli lemma sabachthani which means my God my God why have you forsaken me that questioning of how is the world ended up like this how is this the story that’s Jesus too in this moment at this moment this isn’t an intellectual conversation this isn’t a discussion that we have that goes on in our heads is this true is this accurate this is a felt thing this is a guttural thing of what how are we here my God my God how have you forsaken in this moment when he quotes psalm 22 there was this heartbreaking rendering cry oh man I have been forsaken the writer g.k chesterton says this in the terrific tale of the passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things in some unthinkable way when not only through agony but through doubt as he writes this he actually says hold on a second let me before I say this thing I know some of you might wrestle with this I know some of you might get mad at me he actually says just wait don’t don’t don’t don’t just do whatever to me because I’m gonna make a suggestion that you might find uncomfortable because for some of us the idea that Jesus could feel any sense of doubt is a difficult one to handle and yet what we’re told by writers of scripture is this is he was in every way challenged as we were in everything like us he struggled had to face those temptations imagine if you could pull doubt out of the human realm of experience that would be a joy to so many of us and to believe that Jesus just got to bypass it and live a human experience just doesn’t add up with what we’re told it was for Jesus to live the life that he lived it seems that somewhere he experienced those some things in some unthinkable way in g.k chesterton’s beautiful language he went not only through the agony of the cross but but also through doubt thomas may have intellectual doubts about resurrection but somewhere there’s also that heart thing of oh my goodness this just doesn’t feel right and I just don’t know if I can sign up to this again he is not saying I have looked at the intellectual marketplace of faith and decided that Jesus christ no longer represents the best offer of eternal life or something similar to that that’s not what he’s saying what he’s saying is God has let me down Jesus wasn’t who I thought he was I am disappointed and I can’t keep doing this I can’t sign back in and you guys you other disciples you may see say that you saw him risen but a better explanation for me is you saw a ghost a better explanation for me is it was a mass hallucination a better explanation for me is something other than the reality of resurrection and then and then when we look at it through that light through that experience what fascinates me is how this incredible Jesus comes along this disciple in his lowest point and walks him through a movement of faith a week later his disciples were in the house again I love that language a week later it’s a week later and thomas is still there this guy that professes to I can never believe again I can never get on board again a week later is still there I have often wondered why this passage exists I’ve often wondered why Jesus didn’t just appear to the 12 disciples or now 11 after judas at a time when they were all there why leave any of them out why not just pick a time when everyone was present and it suggests to me that somewhere we’re supposed to learn something that’s something from this story and then my follow-up question is why pick thomas why thomas why not peter he’s always outspoken always certain of everything he believed why not john the disciple that we’re told that Jesus loved when are james why not any of these guys why thomas this unheard of guy but remember who thomas was thomas is the right or die guy thomas is the let’s go back with him that we might die with him thomas is the the plan is crazy guy but I’m still in on the plan because I am so committed to Jesus the plan doesn’t really matter it’s Jesus I’m I’m still with him this is who thomas is I just have this sneaking suspicion that any of the other disciples have they been put in this situation they will be gone they would be out of there yet a week later we read thomas thomas was still there still meeting with them still present still in the building when Jesus turns up again a week later his disciples were in the room again and thomas was with them though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood amongst 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 there is this possibility that thomas has this opportunity thomas has that none of us get right none of us get to touch Jesus and know physically that he’s there that he is present and thomas gets that and then the language stop doubting and believe again we we might read that as stop doing the bad thing thomas start doing the good thing gout is bad faith is good stop doing that and do this one instead but the language here is fascinating this is the greek language for those of you that like your little bits of linguistics the language is and don’t be unbelieving but believing choose faith not no faith I would suggest that faith and doubt are not opposite ends of a spectrum I would say we all constantly experience what it is to interact with doubt sometimes it is intellectual sometimes it’s guttural and felt and yet in each and every one of those situations what we get to pick it seems according to Jesus is now I’m going to move towards believing I’m going to move away from unbelieving in the midst of my doubts in the midst of my questions I’m going to choose belief we it seems are all doubters it seems we are all that is it’s a a universal expression this is the cry the prayer of a young father who is watching his child go through incredible experiences difficult experiences and wants Jesus to step into the situation in mark chapter 9 verse 24 he says this I do believe help by unbelief have you ever prayed that I have definitely prayed something that looks similar to that I have definitely said God I am struggling wrestling with all of my questions both intellectual and fel all of the ways that I look at the world and say how is it like this all of the ways I look at my personal situations at different points and say this doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to be this way and I have definitely said something like I do believe but but I’m definitely going to need your help thomas is not the natural doubter thomas is the natural right or guy guy thomas is committed to the core and yet goes into this place of this incredible existential doubt all of these questions and Jesus pulls him back and pulls him back to such a degree in a moment thomas is about to make a statement that he’s unmatched anywhere in the rest of scripture in all of scripture no one makes a statement of faith about Jesus to the equivalent of this one that thomas is about to make it has become part of every creed every piece of language of the christian faith thomas is about to say something that defines what we as followers of Jesus believe about him in this moment where Jesus appears to him he makes this statement my lord and my God for a jewish person to say something like this in the first century this kind of statement could easily get you killed this was not something to be said about a human being and yet this is the statement thomas makes if you’re contemplating seminary I’m going to save you like thousands of dollars of money because this is the only thing that you need to know from seminary there are these language pieces that are somewhat important but not as often as you think they are and yet occasionally they just highlight something beautifully in the text there is two types of language pieces at issue here there is nominative and vocative and I’m going to explain them to you really briefly for the one time that it actually really deeply matters vocative is the language that we’ve used all through our time of worship we have said things directly to God we have sung songs to him and used his name and the nominative nominative is something a little different nominative is when you see you make a statement about a person if thomas right now uses language that’s evocative what you could hear him as saying is this my rabbi has risen again my lord and my God thank you so much for what you have done here the language could be directed to God in heaven but the language isn’t vocative the language is nominative the language is directed about it is directly about Jesus thomas makes this statement that really is just groundbreaking and unmatched and so fascinating because right at the beginning of his account of Jesus life john has said this in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God he has used this language the word which could mean reason or statement about Jesus he has said that this person is God in our midst and then for the rest of his account nobody has said this nobody has made this kind of statement and john waits until almost right at the end and right at the end as almost this crescendo to the gospel there was this moment where thomas gets this statement thomas gets put in the place of not seeing Jesus risen has to wait eight days but at the end of that eight days what we get is the most incredible statement when we think about this language of reason you might describe it as this very complicated before a second cup of coffee I grant you a universal divine reason imminent in nature yet transcending all oppositions and imperfections in the cosmos and humanity broadly speaking what it says is this Jesus is the reason and explanation for everything and the first person on earth to know it is the one we call doubting thomas his journey is the first journey that gets to this point every single one of the other disciples says Jesus is risen this is good news in some way thomas looks at the situation and says do you know what this means this means Jesus explains everything about the way the world works thomas movement is incredible from I’m ride or die let’s go with him and die with him all the way through to I can never believe this again and now to make this statement and thomas just in a little bit of nerdy church history will then take the silk trail and he’ll head all the way from somewhere over here and he’ll land over here in india and when you go to india and talk to the christians there they would tell you thomas was the first person that brought this message to them thomas the doubter just doesn’t fit thomas is the ultra committed thomas is the faithful thomas is the one who gets to the point that every single one of us might get to always say I just don’t know if this thing is working I just feel the story is broken I am so mad and so disappointed God you have let me down thomas gets to that point thomas gets to Jesus moment of the crowd on the cross my God my God why have you forsaken me and then and then he gets back to my lord and my God garden gets back to this journey thomas story is not one simply of doubt is bad faith is good thomas story is one of what it is to wrestle with the worst of doubt the worst of experiences and come out the other side still believing something and still knowing that somehow Jesus explains everything about the world and why it works the way it does the question I have for us is this what are we supposed to do with this story what are we supposed to do with it johnny’s pretty clear that he writes for a reason he wants us to be able to take the story and and use it in some way yes the story is important for thomas but it also is supposed to mean something for us Jesus told him because you have seen me you have believed blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed somewhere Jesus uses language that says that desire all of us secretly have to just see him in person to have the physicality to be able to touch and to feel like we can know for certain for some reason though he doesn’t reveal that’s not a good thing for us we don’t really need that maybe your question has been why won’t you do that for me why can’t I have what thomas gets to have and if I would have to think through why Jesus might say this isn’t a good idea why it doesn’t fit what I wonder is this I just wonder if he would say I haven’t had a great track record with proving myself to people through signs and wonders and miracles back in john chapter 6 he says this to a group of people that are considering following him very truly I tell you you are looking for me not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and you had your fill somewhere to a group of followers he says you’re not here because I did wonderful things you’re not here because I gave you some level of certainty as to who I was you’re here because I gave you food if you came for the donuts I’m okay with it it’s fine you’re here it’s not a problem but there is this language that suggests the signs don’t do what we think they’ll do we think they’ll give us certainty and they never really do they don’t move us to that point what seems to transform is stories of other people’s transformation as he kind of rounds up this whole passage this is what the writer will say Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book but these these signs they are written that you may believe that Jesus is the messiah the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name what we’re told is what we have to read that’s enough if you want more signs sometimes they’ll appear but don’t rely on them don’t predict them don’t guarantee on them these things these things we have recorded thomas journey it’s recorded there so that you and I can believe Jesus took the person who was right or died the person with the strongest faith and left him in a place where he had nothing left and then brought him back to this point of being able to say my lord and my God if it can happen to thomas it can happen to any of us if you find yourself in a place where intellectual doubt seems to be buzzing around your head and you long to get to a point of saying I’d love to lay these these doubts to rest my heartbreaking maybe news for you is I don’t know if you’ll ever get to that point I don’t know if that ever stops if you’re hoping that you’ll never have a dark night of the soul never have a moment where you look at the world or your own life and say God where are you in the midst of this if you won’t cry out like Jesus cried out like thomas might have cried out I would love to tell you that will never happen but the truth is you might there might be moments of why there might be questions of how has it ended up like this and yet somewhere what is incredibly true is this wonderful Jesus like he did for thomas comes alongside us maybe not physically but certainly spiritually and says move towards believing trust that I have the story in hand I’m still working on it it’s still a process I am with you and we get to respond like thomas responded we get to look and experience that we get to hear the stories of other people experiencing that and we get to make that faith statement that says Jesus I don’t have all of the answers to everything but I believe you are the best explanation for this world and why it is the way it is and the best hope for what it might look like in the future we get to sit in this tension faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance about what we do not see we are left waiting for something more we’re left waiting for a Jesus who said well I will return one day I will be back with you and we wait and we wait and we wait and we trust and we wrestle with doubt and wrestle with our questions about why the world isn’t all just fixed and why everything doesn’t look as we would hope it looked and we say I choose to believe I choose to move in that direction I choose to move away from unbelief and towards belief I would say the story of thomas the message of thomas is not the doubt is inherently bad it’s that in the midst of wrestling with doubt we get that option we get to move towards Jesus and we get to move towards believing that journey can be painful it can be hard it can be difficult but somewhere we may stand there like thomas stood there and say this is my lord and this is my God he explains everything about the universe and we sit in the tension and we wait and we hope let’s pray

God for those of us today that are in a place of simplicity we stand here with no doubts experiencing you God I rejoice for that season

for those of us that come this morning wrestling with intellectual doubts wrestling with existential fel doubts

God I know what that is I’ve sat in that place

whatever we need would you speak to us for those of us that find belief in this moment so so easy we rejoice for those of us that sit in that tension of doubt and say like that man with a son I believe help my unbelief would you give us what we need and that spectrum of belief to unbelief help us to move towards belief help us to choose that story come alongside us maybe not physically come alongside us and lead us

remind us that you’re not mad at us that you’re not disappointed in us that you know us and you know our story just like you knew thomas the guy who was so committed he would give everything

but you brought him through to this incredible faith statement that changed everything that we knew about you and who you are thank you that you picked thomas on that journey you didn’t go for the well-known guys you didn’t go for the guys that seemed like they had it all together you picked thomas who never really does anything else that we get to read about

thank you that you picked a guy that seemed so certain about everything so committed

and in the midst of his own crisis of faith you brought him back to a place of goodness of joy

if it can happen to thomas it can probably happen to us

so in this moment we make this faith statement in song for those of us that are following you and wrestling with doubts we sing this song in christ alone we make this statement I’m choosing belief for those of us maybe that have always questioned intellectually maybe we’re in a place of just constantly the the wheels are always turning

we can sing this song as a first statement of faith

for those of us that just need you to be present with us

I pray we’d experience the joy of your presence

thank you that we get to believe together as a community

thank you that you love south and you love each of us

guide us on our journey amen