Easter 2a

Preached: May 1, 2011

His Written Word Drives Out Our Doubt
John 20:24-31

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to our risen Savior, Jesus Christ is John 20

Now Thomas (called Didymos), one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus camethe other disciples kept tell telling him, "We have seen the Lord."

But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, thrust my finger into them, and thrust my hand into his side, I will never believe."

A week later his disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in the middle of them. He said, "Peace be with you."

Then he speaks to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Take your hand and thrust it into my side. Don't show unbelief, but rather believe."

Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God."

Jesus says to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed."

Jesus also did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have live in his name. (John 20:24-31).

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Donald Trump had his doubts. Was President Obama really born in the U. S. of A.? Maybe you've heard some of that kerfuffle over the airwaves this past week. Even the President getting a special waiver so that Hawaii would release his long form birth certificate will not silence all the naysayers. People believe what they want to believe, it seems, or doubt what they want to doubt.

Look at the evidence Thomas had. For three years he had been listening Jesus. How many times hadn't Jesus told the Twelve, including Thomas, that he would die and rise on the third day. Wasn't Jesus trustworthy? Thomas also had the testimony of his fellow disciples. They all said they had seen Jesus. And this wasn't a passing glance out of the corner of their eyes. They talked with him, touched him, saw him eat. He was right there in the midst of them. This was no hallucination. All of them witnessed the same things.

But none of this evidence, even the promises of Jesus himself, was good enough for Thomas. "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 it" (John 21:25 NIV1984). His doubt is unbelief. He has no faith in Jesus' promise to rise from the dead. He is unbelieving Thomas.

We, dear friends, must see how close doubt and unbelief are. When you doubt someone, you don't believe all that they say. In our human relationships that can be beneficial since not everyone is honest or trustworthy. And even an honest person may not be able to follow through on a promise. He or she doesn't know the future. Our ability and wisdom is limited. So when it comes to human plans and promises, a bit of doubt mixed with some trust is healthy and good.

But not so with Jesus. He is completely honest and trustworthy, for he is the Lord, who does not change, who cannot lie. He carries out all his promises, for he is God, who knows all things and can do all things. To doubt him is to question his honesty, ability, or wisdom -- all acts of unbelief.

Does that make each one of us here unbelievers, since do we not all struggle with doubts? Notice the difference: You struggle and fought against doubts. Faith fights doubts. Unbelief gives into doubts, excuses doubt, even defends doubting as a virtue of the rational mind. Faith, your faith, fights doubts.

How do we do that? How do we fight doubt? The answer is right there in the last verse of the text: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (John 20:31 NIV1984). These words are written that you may believe and not doubt. These words are written to drive out doubt from your heart. These words are written to overcome unbelief and strengthen faith as you struggle against doubt. These words are written, yes, the words of the Scriptures, the Bible, to drive out doubt.

How much we need this book! For how often doubts attack us! We might not demand to see and touch the physical body of Jesus as Thomas demanded. But how often don't we want to see why. Why did hundreds die in tornadoes and storms down south? Why do young men and women die in far off wars? Why such violence and assaults in our own cities? Why do we have to scrape by financially? Why was my loved one taken from me? Why does today seem like such a struggle for me? Why do I feel so abandoned; has God really forgiven me or just forgotten me? Why the sickness, heartaches, and pains? If I could just see why, it would be so much easier to believe. Or so our doubting mind imagines.

These words are written that you may believe. These words are written to drive out doubt. But even if you read the Bible from cover to cover, you will not find specific answers to those why-questions I raised. The Bible is not a database of information for our minds to reason through so that we can see the answer to life's whys. These words are not written for you to see the logical explanations, but for you to believe.

Through these words Jesus comes to you and says, "Trust me. I am the Christ, the Anointed One. The Father anointed me for the mission of saving sinners, including you. I am the Son of God, who came from the Father to bring you into fellowship with us. I sacrificed my innocent body to reconcile you to God. I poured out my holy, precious blood to pay for your sins, washing you clean. I rose from the dead because you have been justified through me. I rose so that you will believe and through this faith have eternal life, forever in fellowship with the Father and me. Trust me." "These words are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31 NIV1984).

Now if we trust Jesus for our eternal happiness and everlasting blessedness, will we not all the more trust him in the day-to-day struggles we face? We no longer need to see the answers to those why-questions, for we have a loving Shepherd who laid down his life for us and took it up again. We have a loving Shepherd leading us. Trust him. As we follow, we cannot see why he leads us on this path and not that one. But trust him. Listen to his voice, calling from the written word. Note that well. "These are written that you may believe ..." (John 20:31 NIV1984). His voice calls out from the written word. If we follow voices we feel deep down inside or voices that speak through the church officials or voices resounding in the world around us, doubts will only grow. For who knows where those voices come from. But his written word stand sure. This is his voice, your Shepherd's voice, recorded in the Scriptures for all the ages to hear, including you. Follow him in faith that rejoices in his written word, even though we don't see the answers to all the whys. For "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29 NIV1984), believed the written word.

Faith fights against doubt. God's written word gives faith the power to overcome in this struggle. Then what a confession faith makes! "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28 NIV1984), Thomas exclaims.

Let your life each day exclaim: "Jesus is my Lord and my God. He has redeemed me to be his very own, ransoming me with his life-blood. He did this for me, even though I was a lost and condemned creature and he is God over all. Yet he redeemed even me to be his own, so that he is my Lord and my God. So I will serve him in all that I do. I will live under him in glad obedience. I will honor him with my words and actions, with my time and treasures, with my talents and abilities. For Jesus is my Lord and my God."

Such a life flows from faith, faith trusting in our risen Savior Jesus Christ, faith standing firm on his written word. For the Word drives out doubt. "These are written that you may believe" (John 20:31 NIV1984). Yes, dear friend, trust Jesus. Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313