A sermon preached on John 20:19-31 at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Sioux Falls, SD, on April 28, 2019 by Pastor Michael Johnson.
What do a few mice, a referee, and someone in love all have in common? There’s someone out there that would say they are all blind. Some say love is blind. Others say Justice is blind. Somehow, every sports game I’ve ever been at, someone said the ref was blind…how is that possible? But is faith blind?
Some think so. Some in the world say, in church, we just brain wash people. Some say we trust in fairytales. Some say we’re desperate. Former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura, once called religion a crux for the weak.
What about you? Do you ever feel like all we have is blind faith? Is Faith Blind? 1. Sometimes it feels so. 2. It wasn’t for Thomas. 3. It isn’t for us.
Sometimes it might feel like we’re stuck with blind faith right? In our reading, Thomas hadn’t seen any of the evidence. I bet I’d be pretty skeptical had I been him. Here’s the thing. We haven’t seen any evidence of Jesus’ resurrection with our own two eyes either. We’ve obviously never met anyone who was an eye witness to it too. More than that, there is plenty of scientific research that seems to contradict what we believe in the Bible. So, is faith blind?
It wasn’t for Thomas. “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.” Thomas hadn’t been there that first night. It seemed too good to be true and he was filled with doubt. Thomas says “prove it.” In fact, he says that if I don’t see the nail marks and feel the holes and his side, I will never ever 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.” Why did Jesus do all this for Thomas? He actually meets all of Thomas’ demands. Demands Thomas didn’t have a right to make. Why does Jesus do this? His last command to Thomas clues us in: “stop doubting and believe.” Doubting the resurrection wasn’t just robbing Thomas of some joy; it threatened to put his entire faith in jeopardy. Take away the resurrection and everything falls apart. Doubt about the resurrection creates doubt about everything. Last week we heard the Apostle Paul put it this way: “If there is no resurrection of the dead… our preaching is useless and so is your faith… your faith is futile; you are still in in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).
Last week we said the resurrection is the foundation on which the Christian faith is built. It’s proof God accepted Jesus’ suffering and death as payment for your sins. So Jesus wanted Thomas to know he had indeed risen from the dead.
What about you and me though? I’m willing to bet no one here has ever physically seen Jesus. Is our faith blind? I think God included this story in the Bible to help show us, no our faith is not blind. It’s interesting, three of the four Gospels include Jesus appearing to the disciples that first night. John is the only one that includes Thomas. Why? Well, I think a reason might be that John was the last of the four Gospels to be written. It was written 40 or so years later than the first one was written. John was writing to Christians who had not witnessed Jesus’ life and resurrection. He was writing to Christians like you and me. So he includes Jesus’ words for us and summarizes why he wrote his Gospel: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded 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 life in his name.”
But these 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. Have you ever become frustrated with God with thoughts like “why can’t Jesus just appear to me and others. It would take my fears away and bring others to faith.” Here God is showing us that’s not actually how it works. It’s only through the Bible that God has chosen to create faith. And that’s why Jesus says you’re blessed. We may not see him with our own two eyes, but we have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision. We can see how every promise God ever made in the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. We can see how the ceremonies in the Old Testament pointed to how Jesus would die for us. We can see clearly how Jesus has washed us completely of all sin.
He shows us this in his Word. In fact, Jesus once warned us that people coming back from the dead wouldn’t convince people to believe. He once told a story where a man in hell was actually able to talk to Abraham up in heaven. The man begged Abraham to send someone back from the dead to his family to convince them to believe. And that makes sense right? That kind of mind boggling miracle will get someone to believe right? Yet, in Jesus’ story, Abraham responds “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:31). Why? Because God has chosen to work through his Word.
Even Jesus himself pointed to the Word. He performed miracles not to show off, but to have people listen to his Word. He defeated Satan’s temptations by going back to God’s Word. Even on Easter morning, Jesus appeared to two disciples walking home but didn’t allow them to recognize him. Rather, we’re told: “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
You are truly blessed. The Apostle Peter once said: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain” (2 Peter 1:19a). The Word is made sure because the Holy Spirit has led you to see how every promise of God is fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, our faith is not blind, it is given a Savior who is certain and hope that is sure. Amen