At Percilla Community Church we had a wonderful community Easter Sunrise service at 7:00 a.m. Felders Chapel brought some great special music, the Percilla church provided a delicious breakfast, and the Sunset pastor brought the resurrection message.
The message was titled “Journey to Faith,” the story of the apostle Thomas, from John 20:27-28: “Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
The preacher made three points: (1) The Risen Christ; (2) Thomas the Doubter; (3) Thomas the Believer.
(1) The Risen Christ. When the women came to the tomb early on resurrection morning, the angel said to them: “‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!’”
Paul records the great facts of our Christian faith in 1 Corinthians 15:-1-5: “Christ died for our sins… he was buried, and he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.”
Then Paul adds this, v5: “And he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve… and to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….” It is good news that Jesus was not immediately taken up to heaven, but stayed on the earth for 40 days, showing himself alive to so many witnesses.
(2) Thomas the Doubter. On the evening of resurrection day, the disciples were together, and Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” When He showed them his hands and his side, the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Thomas had not been with them when these things happened, and, when they saw him, they said “We have seen the Lord!” But Thomas said: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
We would say the apostle Thomas was from Missouri, the “show me state”: He said, “I’ll believe it when it see it.”
But there is something called true history, unseen by us.
From an historical viewpoint my birthday is July 11. Why do I believe that? I have no memory of it, even though I was present.
But there is a certain document — my birth certificate — with July 11 on it, and I believe it. Besides that, my mother was a reliable witness, and I believe her. She is now deceased, and I still believe her.
In a similar way, in the New Testament there’s the testimony of the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which record the birth, life, ministry, death, and the rising of Jesus. Thomas had been a doubter, but later he changed his mind.
(3) Thomas the Believer. What happened? Jesus came again a week later, v26, and, seeing Thomas’ unbelief, graciously accommodated him with an inspection. 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.”
In the next verse Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas came to faith in the risen Christ, and, after Pentecost, went to India and established many churches in that great land, which are still there today.
Jesus then said to Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We have not seen Jesus with our physical eye, but through the eye of faith—faith based upon the evangelists’ reliable testimony—we see Him. Today, 2000 years later, about two billion people on earth worship Him as their risen Lord.
Many thousands of people were crucified by the Romans for rebellion against the emperor.
If Jesus were not raised from the dead, we would likely not know his name. But Jesus is honored, worshipped and served today all over the earth because He is risen!
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!” [Luke 24:6]
May the risen Christ rise in your heart today — our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.