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Pastor’s Desk: Doubting Tom-Us

Posted on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at 4:22 pm

Reverend James Lanning, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Last week, for Easter, we looked at the resurrection account from John as to what happened that morning, this morning we are going to look at what happened that evening. In the morning time, Peter and John had seen the empty tomb and the grave cloths lying there, but Jesus had not appeared to them Just yet; that morning the only people he appeared to, that we know of, were Mary Magdalene and the other women that went to tomb with her. It was these women that had brought the news that Jesus had risen and that they had actually seen Him with their own eyes. But the 11 remaining disciples had not seen Him yet; that wasn’t until the evening when Jesus appeared to them. When Jesus does appear to them, He comes speaking the words “Peace be with you“ and bearing forth the marks of His crucifixion, to show them that it is really Him who stands before them. He even breathes on them giving them the Holy Spirit, a reference to God breathing His own breath into Adam and making him a living being, and he endows upon them the authority to forgive sins in His name. Jesus is setting everything right again for His disciples before He sends them out to preach the good news; there’s only one problem: Thomas is not there.

Because of his absence when the Lord appears to them, Thomas doesn’t believe his friends when they tell him that they have seen the risen Jesus. Thomas asks for proof, without which he says he will never believe, and so no matter how much they tell him of what they saw, he just refuses to believe it. But Jesus doesn’t leave one of his sheep behind; He appears to them again on the follow Sunday, looks Thomas in his awe-struck eyes and gives him the exact proof that he had asked for. Jesus takes care of His sheep, even the one who is lost in doubt, and He brings him back into the fold, loving all His sheep through and through. It is a wonderful scene from the Gospel and is especially meaningful to us who hear or read it, especially when we are troubled by doubt. This is why I love the story of Thomas, because it shows how Jesus stops to love and care for the doubter. This morning I want to focus on Thomas, both his problems and his strengths, because I think there are more Christians that can relate to Thomas than we truly recognize.

The first thing I want to point out about Thomas is something I have already mentioned, Thomas’ absence; the main reason that Thomas has to suffer through an extra week of doubt is because He is not there, gathered together in fellowship with his brothers and sisters in Christ. Thomas misses Jesus’ first appearance because He has gone off by himself to grieve alone. Now the preacher could take his absence and turn it in to a lesson on the importance of going to church: “you know why Thomas didn’t see the risen Lord with the others, the first time Christ appeared to them? It was because he wasn’t there; and that’s what happens when you skip church.” But while it is true that we endanger ourselves to greater spiritual attack when we fail to gather with other members of the Body of Christ, around His Word and Sacrament, we would be dishonoring Thomas and doing ourselves a disservice to not recognize what’s happening with him. Thomas is grieving, and like so many people often do, he isolates himself in his grief.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.