“No Doubt About It”
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like for the disciples to have endured Holy Week. The rollercoaster of emotions had to have been incredibly intense. From the absolute high of Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as seemingly everyone now acknowledges the arrival of the King. The intensity of Jesus teaching on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as He conveyed everything that needed to be said and passed along. The turning point of Maundy Thursday as they began with the joy of celebrating the Passover with their Master and ended in the dark Garden realizing that one of their own had betrayed the Lord and another was about to deny that he even knew Him. The anguish of watching their friend and Savior beaten, mocked, and crucified on Good Friday. The waiting through the Sabboth as Jesus lay in the tomb. And then back to the bewildered joy of Easter Sunday morning as they try to wrap their minds around the news that their Savior has risen from the dead, as He said He would.
The highs and the lows, the joy and the sorrow, had to have sent them from belief to disbelief over and over again. To believe is to be ‘in one mind’ about accepting something as true. To disbelieve is to be ‘in one mind’ about rejecting it. To doubt is to waver between the two. To believe and disbelieve at once and so be ‘in two minds.’ The intensity of Palm Sunday through Easter had to have had the disciples ‘in two minds,’ constantly wavering between belief and disbelief. Wondering, even doubting whether all they had heard and seen was true. But by the end of Easter Sunday there should have been
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: JESUS HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD
Even so, it took quite a bit of convincing to get them to that point. And for one, Thomas, his absence meant he had to wait an entire extra week before all doubt was dispelled.
On Easter morning the women announce that “He is alive!” John and Peter even go to the tomb themselves to see what the commotion is all about. And even with the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,” they hid, not knowing what to make of the things they were being told. It had to have sounded too good to be true. And like any good doubter, even if there was a glimmer of belief, it was tempered with the logic and human reason that said it couldn’t possibly be true. But “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
“When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” It took the physical revelation. Jesus showing them His battle scars, before their belief that He was a ghost was overcome. Before their fear over everything that had happened would be overcome with the joy of the presence of their Savior. Much like so many of us, they had to see to believe. And when they saw, there was No Doubt About It. He was alive! Christ had risen from the dead!
But there was one who was absent. “Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.” But like any good skeptic, Thomas is caught between belief and disbelief, wavering between the two. He’s ‘in two minds.’ He doubts. “He said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.’”
Doubt comes naturally to the human mind. And Thomas really shouldn’t get such a bad rap. He’s certainly not the only one who had a little trouble believing the unbelievable on Easter day. Mary Magdalene’s first inclination is that “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” When Peter and John hear the news “they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead.” And Luke says of the apostles that “these words seemed to them like an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Their doubt was understandable. Jesus had been crucified. Jesus was dead. The centurion had made sure of that. He’d been laid in the tomb. There was no doubt about that. And it made no logical, human sense that He could have risen from the dead.
Author of On Death and Dying, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote, “Man has conquered space, he has made great technological advances, but he cannot conquer death.” That thinking is fine for us and for all of humanity as we think about the finite nature of life on this earth. But it doesn’t hold for the divine. Because of the risen Lord we know that the grave has been conquered. Paul reminds us that we can joyfully exclaim “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Any doubt that remained in the disciples, or any doubt that remains in us today robs us of the joy of the resurrection of the body. Many people find it easy to believe in the spirit world and in angels, but too difficult to believe in a physical resurrection. But Jesus makes it clear to the ten gathered that first night that His body is a real, glorified, physical body. And He does the same for Thomas when “Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, 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 see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’” He’s saying to him, ‘Don’t be in two minds, but be of one mind. Don’t waver. Don’t waffle.’ Have faith in the physical resurrection. Not just the resurrection of Jesus, but your own promised resurrection as well.
Doubt keeps us locked up in our fears, just like the disciples who attempted to barricade themselves against the world outside where the fear of their own arrest and possible death overwhelmed the hope that the resurrection promises. This kind of fear and doubt causes us to remain in our sin, a place where there is no hope. And in that place there is no peace for the troubled, no rest for the weary, and no hope for the dying. Jesus addresses the fear and doubt of Thomas, and the rest of the disciples by giving them the verifiable, empirical evidence they crave. And He does the same for us.
Jesus addresses the doubts as He appeared to Thomas, and as He appears to us, personally. He calls Thomas out by name and removes the doubt from his heart. And He calls you by name, saying, ‘See and touch. Look at these wounds I endured for you and for your sins. This is how I won your forgiveness. These are the signs of My victory over sin and death.’ When Thomas saw and touched, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” In that moment, doubt gave way to saving faith in Jesus. No Doubt About It. Jesus is risen from the grave. And today He invites you to see, and touch, and taste. He offers His very body as the proof of His resurrection. He calls you to partake of the fruits of His sacrifice in, with, and under the bread and the wine. The physical, empirical evidence of His risen body poured out and offered on this altar for the sins of the whole world. For you. There is No Doubt About It. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Christ’s resurrection is real, and it gives victory on the final day. We confessed it in the Creed when we said, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” Just as we saw Christ’s physical resurrection, so our resurrection will be a bodily resurrection as well. Of this we should be ‘in one mind.’ Fully believing in the victory won for us on the cross and all the promises that ensures for us, for all eternity. My prayer today for each of you is that there would be No Doubt About It. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.