Easter is Believing

Focus: John 20:24-31

We often know him as “Doubting Thomas,” yet his sin was to be demanding and not doubting. Being a Christian means that you have doubts and questions. You can either come to God with an open heart or a stubborn mind. You can come asking why someone had to die or why life can be hard and find the answers you are seeking or demand God show you the proof before you will believe anything. Thomas made demands. This text shows us the vast gulf between coming humbly to our Lord with questions before His throne and crossing our arms and demanding that the Lord convince us with overwhelming evidence before we will believe.

A. The proof was demanded, not questions searched out. V.25 The Greek New Testament says that the other disciples kept telling him about their visit from the Lord. Thomas didn’t ask questions so that he could share in their excitement. He demanded that Jesus gives Him proof. It happens when people say that they will not believe in the Lord unless Grandma is healed. It occurs in a discussion when people say that they can’t believe in a God who would allow suffering in Africa.

B. The proof will come in Jesus’s time. V. 26 Thomas had demanded proof, but Jesus didn’t come right away. He waited for seven days so that the Thomas had heard the resurrection news dozens of times. Jesus doesn’t listen to our demands and pops back in when it is convenient for us. He comes at a time that will bring the most benefit. He comes at a time that He knows will lead to the most people coming to faith or growing in faith. The proof is on his timetable.

C. Proof may be gentile or scary. V. 27 How gracious it was for the Lord to stoop down and answer Thomas’s request. Seeing Jesus was all that he needed. God’s answer to our stubbornness may not be so gentle. Paul saw Jesus on the Damascus Road and was blinded. Nebuchadnezzar mocked God and was reduced to living like an animal. Sometimes Jesus answers our demands if we are open giving a rebuke but coaxing us toward faith. Others are so stubborn that He may have to break them before they are humble enough to listen

D. How will you respond? V. 28 It is all about our response. Thomas saw His Lord and friend standing before him and believed. He believed in the resurrection. He believed that Jesus was truly God. It is still about the response. A person’s life will be shaped by their willingness to accept and submit or their stubbornness and dismissal of the message God gives. Those who believe will find God’s help in the midst of their hurt. Those who dismiss God will be doomed to live in their pain perhaps for the rest of their life.

Turn to scripture when you have questions and doubts. V.31 The Holy Spirit abides there. As you read the words of scripture, He can chase away the demons that would pull you down and torment you. The dread of Satan will be replaced with the promises and hope of our Lord. Scripture is filled with stories of God working in the lives of His people. The Holy Spirit will use these words to fill you with life and expectation of God working in your life. God wants to answer your questions. He wants you to do so, however, with an open heart and a mind ready to believe everything in Scripture.

Easter Is Life Changing

Focus: John 20:10-23

Are you open to change? Easter is meant to change lives. The first thing that you notice is that Jesus didn’t march into the temple and confront the religious leaders or say “got ya!”. They would not have listened any more than Ebenezer Scrooge. Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection only to believers. He revealed himself only to those who were ready to change and to accept the gracious gifts that He had to give on that first Easter. He would not waste his time or His gifts on the hard of heart. The question is whether you are open to change. If you are unsure about who Jesus is, are you ready to listen to his gifts to you? If you are already a believer, are you willing to move to a new level in your relationship with Him? The Easter story features four life-changing statements from Jesus for you and me.  

A. Why are you crying? v. 15 Under normal circumstances, this would have been a silly question. Mary is standing at the tomb of a loved one, and his body is gone. Jesus knew what His resurrection meant. “Open your eyes Mary and see me so that you can leap for joy.” Many have not let that simple message hit home. Joy is right before them, but they are confused and not willing to accept it or have never really thought about the meaning of the empty tomb.

B. Go to my brothers v. 17 In the past, Jesus had called the twelve disciples servants or friends. Now He calls them brothers because they share in His resurrection power and glory. You are brothers and sisters in Christ. You call God Father every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer. Easter has elevated you just as it did the disciples.

C. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you v.21 Jesus gave them Shalom and called them to go and spread His peace to the world. The message of Easter would take away the guilt of the burdened and bring hope to those who were lost and confused about the future. Easter is your call to spread this message as well. So fan out and tell others what Jesus has done. Jesus is here, and He will help.

D.  Receive the Holy Spirit v. 22 How will we bring God’s peace to others? The disciples and everyone who heard the Easter news was empowered with the Spirit to get the message out. They would speak the gospel message and the Spirit would change the hearts of many who heard the message. Now you receive the Spirit. He empowers you by giving you the words to say to your friends and family.

What makes Easter Different? There were at least five resurrection appearances of Jesus on the first Easter. Everyone was to a believer so that their life could be transformed and their sorrow turned to joy. Easter was not a day of doctrines, but a day where people could touch the wounds in his hands and feel the love in His voice. It was a day in which Jesus transformed the disciples who were scared and discouraged into men and women who were excited and who never wanted to let go of the salvation and love of Jesus the rest of their lives. They became bold and even willing to die rather than lose Jesus from their lives. Reach out and touch Jesus today. Touch his wounded hands as the disciples did and believe. Open your heart so that you might be changed.