Text: John 20: 24-29
At the beginning of John Patrick Shanley’s 2008 movie Doubt, set in 1964 at St. Nicholas Catholic School in the Bronx, Father Flynn opens his sermon with the question,
“What do you do when you’re not sure?”
He answers the awaiting congregation, we either live in doubt or we retreat to certainty.
Sister Aloysius, the principal believes Father Flynn’s sermon implies inappropriate behavior is taking place at the school and she asks the other sisters to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior. A young and naïve Sister James witnesses an unusual closeness between Father Flynn and Donald, their only black student and reports the findings to Sister Aloysius. Thus begins the battle between doubt and certainty.
The movie, Doubt is brilliant because the intelligent audience is forced to draw their own conclusion about the issue while considering their own personal relationship with doubt. The movie ends with Sister Aloysius’ own proclamation, “I have doubts.”
An anonymous person once said doubt digs the grave of faith. But doubt doesn’t mean your faith is dying; doubt awakens your faith by allowing God to strengthen you and your relationship with Him.
There is a story of a lady watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. After a short time passed, the lady felt sorry for the butterfly and used a small knife to cut the cocoon open to release the butterfly. The beautiful butterfly stretched out its wings and attempted to fly but fell to the ground and died. Why did the butterfly die? Later, the lady realized the struggle in the cocoon is what makes the butterfly’s wings strong enough to fly. The struggle gives the butterfly life outside of his cocoon.
God uses doubt in our lives to mirror the struggle of the butterfly. So how do we survive our doubts?
In the text, John 20: 24-29 Thomas, once an avid follower of Christ, is on a downward spiral of desertion, delay and denial.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples were gathered behind locked doors in fear of Jewish leaders. Thomas was not present and he missed the appearance of Jesus Christ.
So many believers are like Thomas, absent from worship and As Thomas did, they miss the very presence of Jesus and the impact he can have on their lives.
When the disciples saw Thomas, they quickly told him he missed Jesus but Thomas doubted.
“…Except I shall see in his hands the PRINT of the nails, and put my finger into the PRINT of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” John 20: 25
The word PRINT is interesting. Paul used the same meaning about the Thessalonians, “So that ye were ensamples (a pattern) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia” (I Thessalonians 1:7). The word “tapon” in the Greek is what the PRINT of the nail represented to Thomas, visible proof that the one who appeared was Jesus Christ. The same visible proof is what Paul wants the Thessalonica Christians to be to the world. Christ had the physical PRINT of his existence and the Thessalonica Christians were symbolically PRINTED.
WHERE IS YOUR PRINT? If others cannot see the mark of Jesus Christ on you, they too may be like Thomas on a downward spiral of despair and doubt!
II. ACCEPT THE DEMONSTRATION FROM THE DELIVERER
Thomas is just one of many doubters in the Bible. God told Abraham’s wife, Sarah she would conceive a child in her old age. She laughed saying, “Can an old woman like me have a baby?” She doubted.
John the Baptist saw the Spirit of God but while imprisoned his circumstances changed. He said, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” He doubted.
One of my favorite doubters is the man found in Mark 9 whose son was demon possessed. He brought him to Jesus for help.
“…Have mercy on us and help us if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘if I can’?” Jesus asked, “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
When in doubt, SEEK GOD!
Thomas did. Verse 26 states, “A week later the disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.” Thomas has now positioned himself in a place where God can help his unbelief. Notice WHERE Thomas is; he is in the community of believers! I love this position because Thomas DID NOT GIVE UP when he had doubts and the other disciples DID NOT CONDEMN Thomas for his doubts. They showed love.
Another awesome thing is JESUS DID NOT CONDEMN Thomas either. Jesus could have asked, why did you doubt or why didn’t you believe the other disciples? Instead in verse 27, Jesus said touch and look, stop doubting and believe! There was demonstration from the deliverer.
Jesus was resurrected but His wounds were still present. Have you been delivered but still wounded? I mean wounds of mistreatment, neglect, rape, molestation, or abuse. It is possible to be saved and still wounded.
A story is told of a girl who was ashamed of mother. Her mother’s face had a huge and unsightly scar. The girl never wanted to be seen with her mother because of the scar. Her mother finally asked her, “Honey, why don’t you invite me around your friends or to school events?” The girl replied, “Mama, the scar on your face embarrasses me. The mother said, “Let me tell you about my scar. One day I went out to draw water. I looked back from the well and I saw the house was on fire. I rushed back and came through the house to get you, my little baby, out of the crib. The fire surrounded you, but I got to you just in time. On my way out of the house, a hot beam came down across my face because I took the pain for you. I made it through the fire but the wound is still here.
Jesus has scars. His hands are scared. His feet are scared. His side is scared. How did he get His scars? One day He looked down on us and saw destruction. He rushed to earth coming through 42 generations to get to us, his chosen one. He saw the fire of HELL surrounding us, and made it just in time. But for us to make it home, he had to endure the beam, in the form of a cross. He was nailed to the cross and pierced in the side and wounded to take the pain for us. When you don’t want to live for Him, remember how He died for you.
AND SO, once Thomas felt the wounds, he declared “My Lord and my God!”
When you feel the scars and the wounds and the passion of Christ and how much he loves you, you too will have a “MY Lord and My God” declaration.
Jesus said, “… blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”
We all have doubts. I doubt I can live with the pain of losing a loved one. I doubt my wife will love me enough to want to save our marriage. I doubt my children will be successful when they live in poverty. I doubt I can be anything I want to be. I doubt anyone loves me. I doubt I can make it in this world.
Although we don’t see how things are going to work out “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” When we don’t understand IT, we can understand WHO “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” When things around us don’t seem to make sense “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” When we don’t want to give up but doubt we can make it through “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”
So the question is asked to you, “What do you do when you’re not sure?”
Survive your doubt and retreat to the certainty of Jesus Christ!!!Reverend Victor Sinclair Lewis, Sr. Pastor of Peoples Baptist Church, Montgomery, AL