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(Prepared to compliment a sermon based on Acts 26:28.)

Life can be confusing. Sometimes we don’t know what to think about a particular situation. We hear something and we don’t know whether to believe it because we’re not sure if what we’ve been told is possible or not.

But there are some things about which we have no doubt at all. We know it for a fact and no one could possibly persuade us otherwise. For example, we know that the sun always rises in the east. There is no doubt about it. We would stake our lives on it. No one can persuade us that the sun rises from some other direction. Similarly, we know that water runs downhill. No one can persuade us otherwise. If we ever see a situation where it appears that water is running uphill, we know that it’s an optical illusion.

How can we be so sure? Why would we immediately dismiss anyone who tried to persuade us that the sun could rise from some other direction or that water runs uphill as either crazy or trying to scam us in some way? Because the assertion that the sun doesn’t rise in the east or that water runs uphill totally contradicts our experience. Never once have we ever seen the sun deviate from rising in the east. Never once have we known water to run uphill. Further, it’s never happened in all of recorded history.

This is why it was so hard for the the disciples to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. It totally contradicted everything in their experience. Sure, they had seen Jesus raise others from the dead, but not once in all of history had a dead person raised himself. Yes, Jesus had repeatedly told them He was going to do it, but they didn’t know what to make of what He said. Surely, He couldn’t mean it literally, could He? Nah! Dead people don’t rise!

I have a lot of sympathy for Thomas when the others told him that they’d encountered the risen Lord. Thomas knew how impossible that was. He knew Jesus had been crucified. How could anyone walk on those wounded feet even if the cross hadn’t killed him? Thomas knew about the spear thrust into Jesus’ side. After taking that kind of wound no one could be up and about even if being crucified hadn’t already killed him outright. Thomas didn’t know what was going on, but one thing he was sure of, Jesus wasn’t alive. In all of history nobody had ever come back like the other disciples were saying Jesus had. He didn’t know what they were up to but they must be trying to pull some kind of scam.

John tells us what happened. “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, 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 it.” 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.”” (John 20:24-29 NIV)

To Thomas’ credit, when he saw the risen Christ, he believed. He allowed himself to be persuaded even though the facts flew in the face of everything he knew or had experienced. Church tradition says that Thomas was so convinced of the resurrection that he traveled as far as South India telling people about Jesus. He and all the Apostles, with the possible exception of John, were martyred for proclaiming the gospel. They were so convinced of the truth of the resurrection that they gave their lives for it.

In fact, one of the strongest evidences that Jesus really did rise from the dead is the change that took place in the disciples. When Jesus was crucified, they cowered in fear behind locked doors wondering if they would be next. Yet, just a few days later they boldly faced down the same authorities who had killed Jesus and openly accused them of murdering the Christ.

Thomas saw and believed. Jesus said that those who believed even though they hadn’t seen would be blessed. That includes us. We haven’t seen the risen Christ with our own eyes, but we we have been persuaded to believe because of the testimony of Thomas and the other Apostles.

We not only believe, each week we proclaim that Jesus died and rose again. That’s part of the reason we eat unleavened bread and drink grape-juice in Jesus’ memory. As Paul writes, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26 NIV)

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