Hi, my name is Thomas.

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John 20:19-31 || April 7, 2024

No, I’m not a twin. Thomas called Didymus. That word Didymus generally means twin. I’m not a twin. Ironically, my youngest brothers are twins. They could not be named Thomas because I already had that name. So the non-twin is the one known as twin, and the twins are not known as twins. Why did my parents name me Thomas? It’s obviously not because I’m a twin. Did my parents worry that I would have a problem with doubt? And so named me Thomas as a constant reminder? They claim not. They claim that they just named me Thomas because they like the name. Okay. Regardless, hi, my name is Thomas. Would you like to be a Thomas? I would guess most of our initial reactions to that is, no way. But may I suggest that by the end of the sermon, we may have a different take? Let’s go for a little ride with Thomas, shall we? To remember what the situation was. It’s the very first Easter Sunday evening. The disciples are locked in a room for fear of the Jewish religious leaders. Wait, you’re thinking. Hadn’t the tomb been seen as wide open and the grave clothes lying there? Yes, you’d be correct. Hadn’t Jesus already appeared to like Mary Magdalene and the other women and to Peter and to the Emmaus disciples? Yes, you’d be correct again. And didn’t all of this confirm the promises that Jesus had made that he was going to rise from the dead on the third day? You are on a roll. Yes, you would be correct again. So isn’t it kind of shameful that the disciples were locked in a room for fear of the Jewish religious leaders on Easter Sunday night? Yes. They had the risen savior. What did they have to fear? And yet there they are, locked in a room for fear of the Jewish religious leaders. And how does Jesus deal with them? It’s amazing grace. Jesus comes popping into the room. He doesn’t chastise them. He doesn’t discipline them. He doesn’t yell at them. Instead, he comes popping into the room and he says to them, Shalom L’chaim. Peace be with you. We assume he spoke Hebrew Aramaic. Peace be with you. And what does he do? He shows them his hands and he shows them his side. Forgiveness, resurrection, peace, all right there. Those nail-scarred hands and sword pure side. Thomas wasn’t there. We don’t know why Thomas wasn’t there. We’re not told, but he wasn’t. Can you imagine the disciples excitedly telling Thomas about this? We’ve seen the Lord, we’ve seen the Lord, we’ve seen the Lord. Thomas’s response can only be described as obstinate and arrogant. Unless I see the scars, unless I shove my hand into his side, I will not believe it. Did Thomas have the right to do that? No. He should have known. You’ve got the factual reality of the empty grave. You’ve got the many eyewitness accounts. Mary Magdalene, the women hurrying back from the tomb. Peter, the Emmaus disciples, the group of 10 who were gathered in the room. And we don’t know how many past the 10 might have been there. There may have been some others who were there with them. All of whom are saying the Lord is risen and all this on the back of Jesus having promised he was gonna rise from the dead. No, Thomas had no right. It was sinful, it was obstinate, it was arrogant. Do you wanna be Thomas? I don’t. For all the irony of that. But I fear all too often I am. Well, it isn’t so much that I don’t know the promises of God I do. It’s more that I kinda don’t live as if I know the promises. Just think of one. Jesus’ promise is that he’s gonna be with you always to the very end of the age. You know that, right? You believe that, right? But do we always act that way? If we really trusted that Jesus was with us always, would there be anything that would make us nervous or afraid ever? Well no, Jesus is there. If we were thinking about Jesus being with us always, would there ever be anything that would take a higher priority than spiritual matters in our life? Well no, because Jesus is there. If I’m standing in the presence of Jesus, what sin would I feel comfortable committing? Would I feel comfortable dropping a curse word or getting angry or lying or becoming greedy or selfish or talking bad about people? Would I do any of that if Jesus was there? Well no, I wouldn’t even think about doing those things if Jesus was there. Well, where is Jesus? Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. Are we just as obstinate and arrogant as Thomas was? I don’t want to be there. But I fear that all too often I am. And by the way, that was just looking at one. The promise of Jesus, not many.So we fast forward a week. The disciples are in apparently the same locked room. Still because of fear of the Jewish leaders doesn’t say so. Don’t know, but the doors are locked. This time Thomas is with him. What does Jesus do? Exactly what he did the week before. Shalom L’chaim. Peace be with you. For the disciples that had to feel like deja vu all over again. For Thomas, it must have been kind of surreal. This is exactly what they told me and now it’s happening. And then Jesus turns and addresses Thomas specifically. Thomas, look at my hands. Take your hand and throw it into my side. He uses exactly the same vocabulary that Thomas had used. Why? Why? This is a gentle yet clear way of saying, Thomas, I know exactly what you said. Can you imagine Thomas’s rush of knowledge and guilt and shame and pain and maybe even fear as Jesus speaks those words? And then Jesus confronts him even more. Stop being an unbelieving one and be a believing one. Wow. Do you wanna be Thomas? To be confronted by God like that? I guess my first reaction would be to say, no, I don’t want that, but wait, what did it lead to? It led to this amazing confession of faith. My Lord and my God, Thomas says. The Greek more literally, the Lord of me and the God of me. And you know what’s ironic? Of everything that’s recorded in the gospels, Thomas’s confession of faith is the best. Every other time we read about Jesus appearing to people, they’re overjoyed, which is great. They worship him, which is fine, not a critique. But Thomas’s confession of faith is the most full of any of the confessions of faith that are listed in the gospels. When one commentator put it this way, I thought it was just so well done, I wanted to read it to you. So it comes about that the most outrageous doubter of the resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of the Lord who rose from the dead. His utterance does not simply acknowledge the reality of the resurrection but expresses its ultimate meaning as revelation of who Jesus is. Thomas gets to the heart of the matter that Jesus is rising from the dead as the ultimate proof that he is the Lord, that he is God. Would you like to be Thomas? Would you like to be confronted by Jesus with your sins? So that what can be engendered is an even more clear, even more dear confession of faith in that Savior who loves you so dearly? I’d kind of like that, you too. But it’s not just theoretical. It’s not just like theological surmising, oh yeah, this proves Jesus is God. So it’s the Lord of me and the God of me. You are my Lord, you are my God. That is what you did, oh Jesus, you did for me. And for Thomas, oh how gorgeous. Jesus had called him to discipleship. Jesus had taught them for those three years. Jesus had gone to the cross for him, for sure. And even when Thomas was obstinately and arrogantly denying, what does Jesus do? Reaches out to him, pulls him back into himself, drives the doubts out of his mind, and replaces them with the confidence of faith. Would you like to be Thomas? I kind of think I would be. And here’s the reality, my brothers and sisters, everything that was done for Thomas was done for you and for me just as much. Just as much. Those nail scars on Jesus’ hands are there just as much for you as they were for Thomas. That sword piercing in Jesus’ side is there as much for you as it was for Thomas. Jesus’ words of peace, peace be with you, are meant just as much for you as they were for Thomas. Your sins are forgiven just as fully, just as freely, just as thoroughly as Thomas’ were. Hi, my name is Thomas. And so is yours. Amen? And amen.