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April 11, 2021
Barbara Loomis (Grantsburg-Central)
How many have heard of Magic Eye? They even have one titled Do You See What I See, the Christmas edition. It was a series of books that was all the craze in the 90’s. They consisted of colorful patterns with a gray/scale picture hidden in them. The youth group was obsessed with them. My daughter brought her book to youth group and during free time they would try to see the hidden picture. There was a section in the back of the book that showed you what to look for if you were not able to see it right away. Some could spot the picture without help. Some could spot it after looking in the back. I could never see it. Now I consider myself good at optical illusions but that series stumped me. I teased the kids that it was like the Emperor’s New Clothes story. They only said they could see it.
Notice I said that I teased them. I truly believed they could see the hidden picture, even if I could not.
We want confirmation for the things we believe. After all seeing is believing. Jesus even said in the 4th Chapter of John “Unless you see the wonders, you will not believe.” This statement was in conjunction with Jesus’s encounter with a Royal Official. The official said “Sir come down before my little boy dies. Jesus said to him “Go; your son will live.” The child did live. The official knew of Jesus and knew of the miracles. Is this faith, belief or just hope?
Poor Thomas. He is best known for his doubt. Yet how often have we prayed for healing of a sick friend or family member. Did we pray with full belief or faith? Or did we pray because that’s what we should do. We often add the phrase ; According to your will.. But in our heart we often have our own chosen outcome in mind.
To doubt means, to be of two minds, to stand at the crossroads of the mind.
Often when we pray we are of two minds. Thomas was torn in what he believed. Who wouldn’t be. Look at all that had taken place in the days before the resurrection.
Before Jesus went back to Judea, because Lazarus had died, the other apostles urged Jesus not to go because He could be stoned to death. But ( John11:16 ) Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
At the Lord’s Supper Thomas did not understand what Jesus meant when he talked about His Father’s House and more. (John 14:5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
In Luke we are told about (Luke 23: 44-45) When Jesus died, a darkness came over the whole land for three hours. The Curtin in the Temple ripped in half.
The women found the tomb empty and believed they saw a living Jesus. And now his companions claim to have seen Him, that He appeared in the locked room that they were staying.
Those were emotionally filled days. It is no wonder that Thomas had doubt.
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
But Thomas was not the only one that had doubt. In Luke 24 it says, “when Jesus first appeared to the others 36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
What we really need is the faith and trust of a child. When I was leading the Brownies and Cub Scouts through the God and Me program, I had to ask who is important in the church. In the program the leader is instructed not to correct the child , but ask why.
One child said the minister, well he has a lot to tell us. Another said the Organist, because we need music.
There were other answers , but the one I cherish most was “Jesus”. When asked why, the response was “That’s why we are here.” An eight year old child with confidence and believed in Jesus. Children have that trusting innocence and ability to believe that we usually lose as we get older and wiser. . When do we lose that confidence and assurance in what we believe?
Here is one example of that loss of innocence. After Sunday school once, an eleven year old waved good-by saying “Thanks for the fairy tale.” It was a difficult story to believe . It was about Samson burning down a town by lighting the tails of foxes on fire. The good thing is that eleven year old is an active adult at the church he is now a member. He continued to learn and still questions.
We all have doubts and in this day and age we question the source. So why shouldn’t Thomas have felt the way he did?
There are books and essays out there that try to prove that Jesus didn’t die. I have read a few. They give good arguments. But there are more writings that break down the description presented in the Bible of the crucifixion into the scientific evidence. There are writings that give proof of the Great Flood, the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, and more.
I would assume that we all have doubts. Many of us are more like Thomas than we would like to believe, or admit.
Have we questioned if God cares for us and loves us?
Have we questioned if all the stories in the Bible are true?
Which are true or just lessons?
If we have doubts, it is good that we face them and search for answers. When our faith grows and is nurtured it becomes stronger. How can we do that?
We attend Bible studies. We study on our own. We talk with friends about our faith. Not everything we read or hear fulfills that need. We should always seek to know the Lord better.
We are not likely to blindly accept everything we hear. What faith is greater: the one that never doubts or the faith that doubts and investigates and believes. The believer that questions along the way has a stronger belief. The non-believer that investigates can become a person of strong on moving faith. Lee Strobel, an atheist that wrote Case for Christ set out to prove that the Bible and Jesus was all false. Now he teaches and writes books about Jesus. I listed different verses, in case you want to find out for yourself. Computers make our search easier.
When we have doubts or when we hear about doubting Thomas, remember that he was so much more than a doubter, but rather a person who needed to find out for himself. He needed to search for the truth. He needed to believe, not because of the words of others, but because God himself revealed it to him. Doubt is alright. Let that doubt lead you to a greater understanding and dedication to Crist our Savior.
Thomas had doubt. So did the others. When Thomas did see the risen Christ, his reaction was very profound.
“Thomas said to Him (Jesus), “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28
I have an image in my mind of Thomas dropping to his knees when he said “My Lord and my God”
What brings you to your knees? What has brought you to the moment of total belief and faith?