梁明浩牧師 – 多馬的認信

      150118_sermon

講題:多馬的認信 Thomas’ Confession

經文:John 20:24-29

講員:梁明浩牧師

場合:香港中文大學崇基學院禮拜堂

日期:2015年1月18日

Have you ever had any nick names? Many people have their nick names. Some nick names are pleasant, some are very funny, and still others are a little bit harsh to hurt people’s heart. There was a man who had a dishonorable nick name. His name is Thomas. People often call him ‘doubting Thomas.’ From the Gospel of John, which we read this morning, we can guess how Thomas got this nick name.

All the disciples except Thomas had seen the risen Lord. And they told Thomas that they had seen Jesus. Then Thomas said that he would not believe until he really sees Jesus and touches him. Because of this episode, the later generations began to call him ‘doubting Thomas.’

But, using that yard stick, that nick name has to be given not only to Thomas but also to all other disciples. Before Jesus was crucified, he told them, “I am going to be killed soon but after three days I will rise again. After I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Now, what should they do after Jesus died? For three days, they should have eagerly waited with excitement, expecting the coming victorious resurrection. But that was not the case.

At the day of resurrection, a couple of women broke the news to the disciples that the Lord has risen. When they heard that news, where do you think they should have gone? 1) To their houses? 2) To the tomb, 3) to Galilee? Yes, they should go to Galilee to meet Jesus. But they couldn’t believe the news. So they ran into the tomb to check. Do you remember what they did after they saw the empty tomb? Luke records Peter’s response in this way, “…then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” Peter didn’t go to Galilee. And that night, Jesus appeared where the disciples gathered and showed them his body, but they didn’t believe it. So Jesus said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”

Therefore, the nick name “doubting” should be given to all disciples.

In fact, Thomas was deserved to be called ‘a man of loyalty.’ Do you know why? One day when Jesus heard that Lazarus died, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” Then, all other disciples got scared and said, “The Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” But Thomas said, “Let us go with him so that we may die with him.” Thomas was a kind of person who was willing to risk his own life to follow Jesus.

But for whatever reason, he became a person who would never believe Jesus’ resurrection. We don’t know why. But one thing we can say is that even a person like Thomas who once had a strong faith and passion can lose a faith and doubt.

How about you? Have you ever doubted before, because of fear or anxiety or disappointment?

Thomas did not believe Jesus’ resurrection. He wouldn’t change his mind even after he was told the news from his fellow disciples.

Then, John begins verse 26 in this way, “Eight days later…”

John says that ‘Eight days’ passed by without anything happening to Thomas. How do you think he felt during those eight days? What do you guess he thought for those eight days? For him, those eight days might have felt longer than eight years. He must have experienced painful loneliness. Jesus appeared to all disciples but him. Jesus met them. But Jesus never appeared to him for those long eight days. For Jesus, it is not a big deal to show himself to Thomas.

Thomas could have thought like these…:

“If it is true that the Lord rose again, how could He treat me like this? I am the same disciple as others and have followed him faithfully with my best. Did I put my life in worthless and hopeless things? Am I not his disciple? Am I not a child of God? All the other disciples seem to find favor in God’s eye except me. Am I abandoned?”

Those painful thoughts must have kept crossing his mind. Thomas must have prayed and beseeched wholeheartedly, and painfully waited and waited for Jesus to appear. Does our Lord know his mind and care what Thomas is going through? Those long eight days are just passing by without any answer to his earnest prayers.

Is there anyone in this room who is currently going through the similar eight days as Thomas had to experience, those eight days for which Jesus seemed not to care about Thomas and just kept silent to him? Is there anyone who is feeling that your longstanding prayers are not answered, your prayers for healing do not work, and problems in your family and finance and other problems in your life are still pending unresolved? And are you now passing through the darkest time in your life? Are you exhausted not able to pray anymore? Even then, do not despair. You will meet God’s timing. Many people of faith in the Bible are those who passed through long periods of time when God seemed not to care for them and kept silent. Some of them had to spend those times under a false accusation. Please do not give up. Even though you feel that God’s timing seems to be delayed, it will arrive. Our expected time will not always come into line with the time in God’s mind, but it will surely arrive. Therefore, our time of waiting for God’s timing is not a time of our being abandoned. It’s a time of grace when God is still working in our life.

Some time after Jesus was resurrected, Peter, John, and several disciples decided to go out to fish. As we all know, Peter is a veteran fisherman, and he knows very well about the Sea of Galilee. But that night, it seemed that fish were not cooperative with Peter. What a miracle for this skilled fisherman to catch nothing! Yes, it could be called a miracle. Somebody guessed, that night a miracle might have happened this way. When Peter cast his net to the right, Jesus drove all fish to the left. And Peter cast a net to the left, and then Jesus sent a signal to all fish to move to the right. If it was not the case, how come no fish had been caught all night?

While Peter and his friends were experiencing continuous failure in fishing, the Lord was preparing to meet those disappointed disciples. What they really needed was Jesus, not fish. And after passing through that long night, early in the morning they met Jesus. Jesus was waiting them on the shore. He shouted them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” He already knew their circumstances. Then, he said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” And hearing Jesus’ words, fish might have begun to move to the right side of the boat. Fishermen cast a net and caught large number of fish and were unable to haul the net into the boat.

There are times in our life that we have to go through, catching no fish all night. But even then, every moment of our life is under God’s grace because God is in our life always. Even the time of silence at which nothing happens is also the time of grace at which God is still working.

God was with Thomas during those eight days of dark silence.

After eight days passed, the Lord came again where his disciples gathered. This time, he seemed to come for Thomas. As soon as Jesus came in, he approached Thomas and said, “Thomas, see my hands. Put your finger here and touch this hole. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” What Jesus said were the exact same thoughts as Thomas said to the other disciples eight days ago. That means… Jesus was listening to what Thomas was saying to his fellow disciples! That means… Jesus was listening when Thomas was praying. That means… Jesus knows what’s in Thomas’ heart, all his tears, sighs, and groans.

Psalm 139(vv.1-4) says, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise;    you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.”

Do you feel that the Lord is silent to you? Then, please remember! God knows our thoughts! God knows us. And God cherishes each one of us.

Thomas didn’t touch Jesus’ hands. He couldn’t do it. In fact, he didn’t need to touch him. Why? Because Jesus already knew all of his circumstances, heart, conditions, fears, disappointment, and groans. Jesus knew all about him. That’s more than enough for Thomas.

Now, I want all of you to remember what Jesus said to Thomas. Jesus told him, “Stop doubting and believe.” What is seen is not everything. As Paul says, “What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”(2 Cor. 4:18) We, who only live extremely limited to one generation, cannot fathom the will and works of God which are being fulfilled throughout all generations. We can only have a glimpse of a tiny part of them which emerge in this one generation we are living.

A long time ago, I heard a story. There was a frog. One day early in the morning, it met a dayfly, and they became good friends. In the evening, as it was getting darker, the frog told the dayfly, “Hey! It’s getting dark now, let’s play tomorrow.” And the dayfly said, “Tomorrow? What is tomorrow?” And the frog answered, “You don’t know what tomorrow is? It’s going to be very dark soon, and then you cannot play anymore. At night, we have to go to bed. We will get up in the morning. That’s tomorrow.” And the dayfly said, “Night? Tomorrow? Are you kidding? I don’t get it. There is no night, no tomorrow.” The next day, the frog couldn’t find the dayfly. A couple of days later, he found a new friend. It was a grasshopper. They had a very good time every day. The frog was very happy because the grasshopper understood when he said “See you tomorrow.” Several weeks later, it was getting cold. One day, the frog told the grasshopper, “Hey! I think it’s time to prepare for a long winter’s sleep. We can’t play in the winter. Let’s meet next year.” With amazement, the grasshopper asked him, “What is a winter? What do you mean by ‘next year’? I haven’t heard about that before.” The frog was amazed too, but kindly explained to him what winter is. But the grasshopper said, “Snow? Winter? Next year? I don’t understand what you are talking about. Hey, friend, there is nothing like winter, nothing like next year.” When the frog woke up next year, he couldn’t find that grasshopper.

The wisdom of a dayfly which lives one day is not like that of a grasshopper. A grasshopper which lives one season cannot understand the thought of a frog. We cannot fathom nor understand our creator’s wisdom, knowledge, and thought. I am sure that we all remember what God said through Isaiah. God said, “My thoughts are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” (55:9)

That God knows us. That God cares us. That God is with us. And that God helps us. Therefore, in the midst of every circumstance that surrounds us, let us hold on to the promise of God and shout to the Lord in our confession, “You are my Lord and my God.” And by faith, let’s live a victorious life, echoing this confession in every moment of our life…. until our Lord comes again.

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