Apr 12, 2021
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
I hope you will join us every week and be sure to let us know how you enjoy the podcast and let others know about it, too. Thanks for listening.
Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
As you might expect, the New Testament scriptures in the lectionary just after Easter reference Jesus' appearances to those he would choose to continue to share the message he began while living among us. "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Son of Man, and you will have eternal life." His resurrection proved to those who followed and saw him that he was indeed Israel's Messiah.
The verses from the gospels come from John, chapter 20. The latter part of the reading says this:
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he replied, "Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!"
Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although 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, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe."
Thomas replied to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed."
Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are recorded so 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 20:24-31 NET)
Darkness has fallen on the first day of the week. Rumors fly about what happened in the garden tomb where Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus after a group of them took his bloody corpse from the cross. The two women who had gone to finish the burial preparation said they saw an angel sitting on the slab. They reported the angel told them Jesus rose from the dead and would meet the disciples in Galilee. But who can believe what women say? But Peter and John ran to the tomb and also found it empty with the linens lying on the slab as if the corpse had passed through it somehow. And the napkin that covered Jesus' face, inside the linen wrapping, was outside the wrappings, folded by itself. Were they drunk with grief? Was it some magic trick? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? It's impossible, but it happened.
Two more saw him on their way to Emmaus. He talked with them, explained the prophecies about himself from the scriptures, broke bread, and prayed with them. Then he just disappeared. He wasn't a ghost. He had a different kind of body. They said it was like they knew him, but he was different. It was like seeing a friend you hadn't seen in a long time. But instead of looking older and ravaged by work, age, and the stress of life, he was energized, the same age but younger looking. It was like he was whole, complete, he had something physical about him that was hard to describe, but you knew it was him.
All these rumors, what were the disciples to make of all of it. Now they hid behind locked doors, trying to figure it out. Their hopes dashed Friday afternoon when Jesus took his last breath. The Roman authorities would root them out soon. Their usual method of dealing with rebel leaders meant crucifying the leader and rounding up all his followers, too. They couldn't expect sanctuary from the priests. They wanted to kill Jesus more than Rome. The disciples needed a plan to survive. They had given up everything expecting Jesus to fulfill the role of the Messiah they sought – career, family, possessions, reputation, everything. There was nowhere to escape in the civilized world because that still belonged to Rome.
But now, some said he lived again. Was the kingdom still coming? Was he still going to rule Israel, as he said? If he is alive, he must be the Messiah. Is there still a glimmer of hope that the rumors are true?
Then Jesus appears in the middle of their discussion. Like them, I think I would be more than a little afraid for someone to appear suddenly. What does Jesus do? He reminds them of the legacy of peace he gave them. "Peace be with you," Jesus says and calms their fears. He shares a meal with them, a mark of fellowship they enjoyed many times before. They believe. He has risen as he said he would. But Thomas wasn't there that night. We don't know why. John doesn't tell us. We only know of his absence.
Finally, Thomas catches up with his friends and earns the nickname he will carry through eternity, Doubting Thomas. We probably shouldn't hang that moniker on him too heavily, though. I've seen too many doubters, including me, to say too much against one of Jesus' disciples. You know, we have a problem with believing sometimes. All of us do. At least, we have problems when it comes to believing spiritual things. It's because we live in a broken world.
The strange thing is we can believe in some things quite readily. For example, I believe I have a heart. I've never seen it, but medical science tells me I have one, just left-center in my chest. No one else has opened me up and actually seen my heart, either. I hope no one does unless it's to do an autopsy several decades from now. But I still believe it is there. I believe the stars out there in the sky work very much the way our sun works. But quite frankly, I have not done the physics experiments to prove that hydrogen atoms can collide to make larger atoms, and those fusion reactions create the energy that fuels our sun and all the stars in the sky. You can't see a hydrogen atom. You can't see the nuclei collide. It's the math that makes us believe it works, but I believe it works, even though I've never seen the sun at the atomic level or seen any other star up close.
I believe the astronomers when they tell me about the rotation of the planets in our solar system. Although, I was a little disappointed when they demoted Pluto. But I've never stepped foot on Mars or Venus or Saturn or Jupiter. I've seen pictures and looked at them through a lens that magnifies them so you can see them, but could those be photoshop images on the other side of the lens? I don't think so; I believe the planets sit where the astronomers tell us they sit. I believe they rotate around the sun just as they describe. But I can't prove it. I take the word of those expert witnesses. I believe what they say because it is their life's work.
I even believe there are frozen bodies on the path to the top of Mt Everest, climbers who died in their attempt to reach the summit, but other climbers pass them by because to try to bring them down would risk their lives in the effort. But I have not climbed Mt. Everest myself to know for certain frozen bodies lay on those mountainsides. I could not sit in a court of law and say I am 100% positive with absolutely no possibility of error that all the climbers could not have joined together to create a hoax that bodies line the path. But to not believe what they tell us would be foolish with the number of witnesses that have given testimony to the fact since Edmund Hillary first reached the summit in May 1953.
We marvel at the Illiad, Homer's poem about the Trojan War, with 1500 years between the nonextant original manuscript and its oldest two partial copies from the 9th century. Yet, we scoff at the letters from the apostles to the early churches when we have hundreds of fragments and nearly complete texts from as early as the 2nd century, less than 100 years from the time of Jesus' death and resurrection. Further, the variance in those hundreds and thousands of copies through the years have been found negligible as scribes and monks carefully rendered the words from one manuscript to another.
So why do we not believe God's word? The testimony of those inspired to tell the story he inspired them to relate to us? We believe the sun will rise tomorrow. We believe the lights will come on when we flip the switch on the wall. We believe the car will start when we engage the ignition. We believe there are billions of stars in the sky, much like our sun. We even believe way too much of the garbage we find on Facebook and Twitter. Don't you think it's time to believe the witnesses of the millions who have believed in Jesus as their Savior through the centuries? Don't you think it is time to exercise just a modicum of faith in God's word and obey the one who will judge or deeds at the end of time?
It doesn't take much to believe something if you want. We've shown that again and again. Believe in Jesus and discover the peace he gives as his legacy to those who follow him.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NET are taken from the NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION (NET): Scriptures are taken from the NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION (NET) Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. Used by permission. All rights reserved.