Easter Convention, Thursday, March 29 to Sunday April 1, 2018
Theme: The risen Lord deserves our worship (John 20:28)
Majesty worship His Majesty
Worship His majesty
Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise
Flows from His throne, unto His own, His anthem raise
So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King
Majesty, worship His majesty
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings
Jesus who died, now glorified
Jesus who died, now glorified
King of all kings
Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I love to sing Your praises
I’m so glad You’re in my life
I’m so glad You came to save us
You came from heaven to earth
To show the way
From the earth to the cross
My debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high
My Lord and My God
John 20: 19-29
Thomas’s confession “My Lord and my God” (John 20:18) is one of the most profound confessions of faith recorded anywhere in Scripture. Someone describes it as the highest point of the gospel. A confession is a verbal expression of a deep inner conviction. “My Lord and my God” implies an intense appreciation of the majesty, power, glory, and sovereignty of Christ. Beyond that it also signifies Thomas’s willingness to absolutely submit to and serve to this ineffable (inexpressible) majesty. In the presence of this inexpressible majesty we can only stand amazed, awe-struck, enchanted, enthralled, captivated, and mesmerised. A similar confession one is Peter’s “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). And the sinful woman saw in Luke 7:36-50 was so wonder-struck by His Majesty that she expressed her confession in action by washing the Master’s feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, and soothing them with costly balm.
The question is how do you respond to the resurrected Lord? Is your devotion to Him absolute or partial? Is your service to Him whole-hearted or half-hearted? Is your pursuit of His inexpressible majesty intense or dull? Our service to God should never be the same after this Easter. We must spend every passing second of our lives expression this our devotion to Jesus in word and in action.
How did Thomas get there?
It has been a very difficult journey. It would cost you a lot to be convinced with Thomas, that Jesus is your Lord and your God. Christianity is not a tea party otherwise everyone would be a Christian. Christianity is a difficult pilgrimage, but it brings ultimate fulfilment. Thomas is introduced to us in the Gospel of John
Thomas’s had his scars
Thomas was a reasonable, logical, but dedicated follower of Christ. However, the pursuit of divinity breaks the limits of logical evidence and convincing proof. Following Christ is about faith, not logic. It is about wonder and amazement, not understanding and comprehension. Thomas knew about scars, because he has been wounded before. He is not one of the foremost disciples and we do not know much about him. The first mention of Thomas occurs in the list of disciples in Matt 10:2-4:
”These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
According to John 11:16, Thomas was a twin (Didymus), and this is probably symbolic of our dual nature, we can doubt and we can believe, we can sin and we can be righteous, we can hate and we can love, we can be honest, and we can be dishonest, we can curse and we can bless, we can praise and can insult; we always live in tension, don’t we?
He was pessimistic
We know Thomas was wounded person because he was cynical and pessimistic. Such a person doesn’t see anything good in any situation. When Jesus left Jerusalem to Perea, across the Jordan (John 10:40-42), because the Jews wanted to kill Him, Jesus received a report from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus was ill. After waiting for some time, Jesus decided to make the perilous journey back to Bethany in Judea, which was a stone’s throw from Jerusalem. It was not reasonable for Jesus to go back to Jerusalem because of the threat to His life. But have you considered what would have happened to the course of history if Jesus had refused to go to Jerusalem. It was a dangerous journey, but it was also purposeful and full of promise. The promise of the universal redemption of the children of God.
But Thomas’s response to Jesus decision was peculiar. He said to his colleagues, “let us go and die with him” (John 11:16), which is extremely cynical. According to A. B. Bruce, Thomas was “the man of gloomy temperament, prone to look upon the dark side of things, living in the pensive moonlight rather than in the cheerful sunlight.”[i] To Thomas, the whole thing was a suicide mission. He saw no hope, no future in the Jesus project, it would all end in a pointless self-sacrifice.
Pessimism can be crudely judgemental. It sees no value in anything or anybody. It operates on a worst case scenario basis. It only sees the worst in people, the worst in ideas, the worst in situations, the worst in institutions, the worst in the weather, the worst even in God. To think that Jesus was foolhardy and wanted to throw His life those of his disciples away, way an extreme accusation.
But at least He thought Jesus was a good man enough to die with. People with scars of the past are normally pessimistic. Life has dealt them hard and harsh blows that they could not forget. To them life has very little to offer. But Oswald Chambers insists that “We must continually maintain an adventurous attitude toward Him [Christ], despite any potential personal risk.” Life with Christ is unpredictable, but full of promise. He can turn sickness into health, death into life, poverty into wealth, bareness into fertility, hopelessness into promise and fulfilment. To them that love God all things work together for their good (Rom 8:28). God can bring good out of evil, and as a verse in the popular songs, “The God of the day is still God of the night” goes, “If things go wrong, He will make them right.” According to Prov 14:32 “When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.” If we have a refuge in death, then we have a refuge in every one of life’s crisis. The death of Jesus inspires hope, not despair. The potential of the trip to Jerusalem is enormous, that was the only way Jesus could accomplish victory over death Jesus was going to Jerusalem, not to be conquered by death, but to conquer death; not as a victim, but as a victor; not as a loser, but a winner.
The next stage of Thomas’s journey was to overcome his confusion. Because our perspective on life is limited, we often get confused. We get confused by the number of options open to us; we get confused by the way life is treating us, we get confused by how people are treating us, and we get confused about what lies ahead in the future. Don’t worry if you’re confused, Thomas has been there.
In John 14:1-7, Jesus makes one of the greatest promises in Scripture, He gives the assurance that we have real estate in heaven, which is permanent, eternal, glorious, and unchanging. After such a declaration, today’s Pentecostals would have responded with a loud “Amen”. But let us see how Thomas responded:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
And this inspires one of Jesus’ greatest “I am” statements:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
- The Master said, “you know” and Thomas responds, “We don’t know”
- Had Jesus wasted His time teaching them. He taught them about the Father, about heaven, and about eternal life. He says, “you know”, but Thomas thinks otherwise.
There are many things we desire to know, there are many things we desire to understand. But the knowledge of God is supreme. Thomas had this knowledge, but he was still looking for something beyond it. It is this attitude that drive people to false prophets and scam investors to be duped – they promise more than they can deliver, and we are excited by their cheap and empty promises. We turn to demand and expect more of life than it has given us, therefore we often fail to appreciate the value of what we have. We live on what Joyce Meyer call entitlement agenda, we deserve this and that. However, until we need to start thinking more of what we owe to others, rather than what other people owe us. That is the only way to avoid confusion in life.
Thomas thought, “If this were the promised Messiah, our situation should be different.” We expect more from God than He has given us. We demand more from our spouses than they can deliver, we demand more from our children than they are capable of. We never enjoy life, because we are driven by ambition, we lust after what we cannot get. We can only reach the future we desire if we appreciate what we have today, because you can only build tomorrow success on today’s resources.
Although Thomas said he would die with Jesus, throughout the trial, torture and crucifixion, we never hear of him. The next time he emerges in the narrative is when he heard of Jesus post-resurrection appearance; and he doubted it. He was not with the disciples on the night of the resurrection; Thomas missed an extremely important event, the first post-resurrection meeting of the disciples. And that was when Jesus preached His first sermon after His resurrection. Had Thomas known that Jesus would be there, he would have attended this historic sacred and historic service. The advice to those who often absent themselves from church is: “But one never knows when the good things will come, and the only way to make sure of getting them is to be always at our post”.[ii] Why? we can only speculate. Had he given up on the cause of following Christ? He might have made up his mind, “I told you guys that the game is up, and nothing will come out of this. Didn’t I?”
On the evening of resurrection Sunday the disciples met without Thomas, and Jesus appeared in their midst in His glorified. When they later told Thomas about it, he replied, “Are you not making up the story?” “Well, this doesn’t make sense, even if I see Him, I will not believe it until I put my hand in His scars.” God knows our weaknesses, and He responds to them adequately. Jesus knew He had a “doubting Thomas” in His team, and He would help Thomas overcome his doubts. So Jesus appears with the doors closed, which exposes Thomas to the miraculous. And that began to overthrow Thomas’s logic and rationalism. To challenge Thomas’s scepticism, Jesus engages him in the prophetic, by implying to Thomas that He, Jesus, even though He was not there physically, knew how Thomas had doubted the resurrection. Jesus therefore invites him to come and apply his evidential test.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27)
Thomas was stunned and enthralled, he suspended logic and screamed; “My Lord and my God”. Bruce regards this statement as “a noble confession of faith – the most advanced, in fact ever made by any of the twelve during the time they were with Jesus. The last is the first; the greatest doubter attains to the fullest and firmest belief.”[iii]
Scars are for testimony
Thomas knew about scars because he has been wounded before. Scars are for a testimony. Scars occur when we are wounded, which could be a cut through contact with a sharp edge, be it a bottle, knife, shrapnel or a violent contact with an object. Such cuts may develop into wounds which may have to be dressed until they heal. And with some people huge scars can emerge as a result. But some skins only develop thin scars. However, the spot of the wound or sore never vanishes. It is the only proof of evidence that a person has been wounded before.
Symbolically wounds represent damage, the damage could be physical, emotional, mental or psychological, financial, educational, professional etc. Many of us in church are carrying scars, physical scars of robbery and surgery, emotional scars of abuse and insult, scars of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD as psychologists call it), phycological scars of failure and frustration, scars from broken relationships, scars of unfulfilled expectations and ambitions, we have scars all over.
Jesus was wounded for our transgressions (Isa 53:5). He was wounded by scourging, the crown of thorns, nails, and a spear. He incurred sacred wounds, mysterious bruises, and holy blood flowed from His body. When He was raised from the dead he carried a glorious body, a spiritual body that did not have scars.
According to 1 Cor 15:42-44 “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
Jesus resurrected body didn’t have scars, but He could reproduce them, He could ask the scars to appear for a testimony.
- Christ signifies/symbolised the supreme hope of humanity (power over death)
- He is the source of courage and strength we need to face all of life’s challenges; “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength …” (Isaiah 40:31).
- He is our resource base to meet all our physical and spiritual needs; “His divine power has given us all that we need for life and godliness.” (2Peter 1:3)