Seeing and Believing (John 20:24-29)

April 9, 2023 | Brandon Cooper


The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Good morning church, we’re gonna go ahead and grab your Bibles, you can open up the John chapter 20. If you’re here and you don’t have a Bible, there’s a black one in front of you, you can grab that one. And if you’re here and you don’t own a Bible, that black one is yours, take it home with you. Okay? If you’re going to be in that black Bible, we’re on page 881. If you don’t have that one, I don’t know what page you’re on. Okay. But John, chapter 20, verses 20 To 2024 to 29, is where we’ll be this morning, you can start turning there now, it is really important that you actually turn there. Now, by the way, here’s why. Because you do not need to hear from me this morning. Because who am I after all, you really need to know what God says, through his living and enduring words, I want to make sure you’re looking at the text. So you know that this is what God has for you today, John 2024 to 29. As you are turning there, just imagine for a moment that you are having a conversation with somebody say in the Middle Ages, about air travel, and how that conversation would go, you’re explaining to them that hundreds of people get to fly in a giant metal tube, even across oceans. In the span of just a few hours, even. I Googled this this week. And so the max takeoff weight of a 777 is 766,000 pounds. If you could get this person you’re talking to understand how much weight that is. Imagine explaining to them that that’s going to kind of just sit on the air. They’re going to look at you funny. And they’d be right to look at you funny, of course, they would be right to be highly skeptical of what you are telling them that made sense. Then in the Middle Ages, if somebody looks at you skeptically today, when you explain that, well, now the shoes on the other foot, actually, they would be the foolish ones because we know that happens. It’s not a bit happens all the time we live right by O’Hare, we got a lot of people who work in air travel and stuff you could look up you could see plane, so something has changed so that what was ridiculous is now actually perfectly acceptable. In fact, you’d be ridiculous not to believe it. Put yourself in their shoes today, though, let’s say something that maybe you would find harder to believe that that your neighbor came to you. You were out this morning, you know, getting in your car ready to head over here something they say Did you see the UFO land at the park across the street last night? Now you’re looking at them skeptically again, you would be right to be cautious in that moment. And yet, what would it take for you to believe your neighbor’s claim? It’s not totally impossible, of course, you just you’re gonna need something to to convince you here. It’s not going to be a photo or a video, that’s for sure. There’s we got to CGI and deep fakes now, so that’s not it, I saw the pope in his puffer jacket. So like, we know, we can’t trust that anymore. How many eyewitnesses would it take for you? And what would the character is this neighbor? Or is this one of the neighbors where you’re like, Okay, I mean, this guy doesn’t tend to lie here. Is there corroborating? Evidence is there, you know, burn patterns in the park, or something like that? How many people believe this did the whole neighborhood? Go? Yeah, it was crazy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. And it was on the news that night and you’re reading about in the newspaper, you know, all that. There’s a tipping point. In other words, where it is harder to persist in skepticism than to believe it would actually be more foolish to be skeptical than to believe. So what is that tipping point? Precisely? You all are smart people. You can see where I’m going with this. It’s Easter. Okay, so we got to talk about this we’re gonna have a take a look at a famous story this morning of perhaps the world’s most famous skeptic, you know him as Doubting Thomas. But think which is more patently ridiculous at first, air travel, a UFO or some guy rising from the grave. I know which one I would find hardest to believe. So we got three scenes we’re gonna look at that will simultaneously encourage and challenge us as we consider belief in something that is at least on the face of it. absurd, just absurd. So let’s dive in. Alright, John, chapter 20. I’m starting verse 24. Scene One is the demand versus 24 and 25. I’ll read it for us now Thomas, also known as dunamis, one of the 12 was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him we have seen the Lord but he said to them, Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, put my hand into his side, I will Do not believe it little context we’re picking up in the middle of the story here. So we’re probably on Monday at this point. Okay, so maybe it’s late in the day on Easter Sunday. We know that Jesus has appeared to His disciples shortly after his resurrection. But Thomas or didn’t miss both words just mean twin different languages Thomas the twin wasn’t there. So like really bad day to have jury duty. Okay, he this is like the all time greatest FOMO okay, like he didn’t get to see what everyone else saw. So when he finally arrives, the other 10 Remember Jesus had 12 disciples, Judas is gone. Now he’s gone and hanged himself because of his guilt at betraying Jesus. So there are 11 left Thomas wasn’t there. So the other 10 disciples tell him they saw Jesus and you can picture the scene like these are not going to be calm people as they’re telling this story. 10 of them all talking over each other at the same time. Peters the loudest of course, we know that. They’re saying we saw him. Jesus who was dead is now alive. And Thomas is a bit skeptical. Can you blame him? I’ve just for one, I’m not going to turn the course of history here. I know it. But I for one find it really insulting that we call this guy doubting. He did not have more doubt than anyone else. He just didn’t get what the rest of them got. It’s unfair that we call him out. And he had the exact same objections that you and I have today. Guy was dead. Now he’s alive. That probably makes you happy. Is this just wish casting? Are you all hallucinating? Was there a lot of Passover wine leftover? Like these other questions that were be going through your mind, he’s not being unreasonable. He is willing to believe but he’s just saying it’s going to take more than what I’ve gotten so far in order for me to believe. Notice, though, this is important. For some of us here today. This story, at least this moment puts to bed once and for all. The silly notion that people back then were more credulous, more willing to believe than we are today. I think that’s the attitude a lot of us have we’re so much smarter now in the scientific west, so we don’t believe the things they used to believe we we congratulate ourselves that we’ve overcome our superstition. They used to believe in magic and fairies and spirits lurking behind every tree. But what we see here is actually wasn’t that different back then. So that somebody would come to you and say there was a dead guy, and now he’s alive. And you would go, no, no, I may not have a PhD in biochemistry. But I’ll tell you what, that’s not how this goes. Dead people stay dead. Alright, I’m enough of a scientist to know that. So Thomas asks for proof. And Thomas says, Alright, if this guy was dead, and now he’s alive, that means he’s in the flesh, he was raised bodily. And so he will have scars from where the nails pierced his hands for the spear pierced his side, I need to touch those. And then and then I will believe, by the way, notice that that means that Thomas is a assuming a physical resurrection. This is really, really important. What this book teaches is not spiritual mumbo jumbo, some sense of things will get better. That’s the message of Easter. It’s like spring, we could do bunnies, we could do eggs, we could do Jesus, whatever, they all teach us the same thing. New stuff happens, you get a fresh start, you get a second chance, that’s not going to work to console us. At our deepest point where we really have the need, we need a flesh and blood hope. We need to know that God will set this world right in the flesh. Some years ago, was when I was pastor at my previous church. pastors have to enter into some dark places. And I was called to the bedside of a family where the mom had gone in for her 38 week check. It was one of those ones where the doctors went, we’re going right now did an emergency C section. The baby lived just 45 minutes. There’s something very badly wrong with her. As I was there at their bedside trying to speak words of comfort to them, I would not dare have spoken of symbols. As if what they needed right then is to hear something like well, it’s always darkest before the light, which by the way could be nonsense. That’s not everyone’s story, not by any means they needed a physical hope. They needed to know that Bethany is alive still, that they will meet her again as CO heirs with Christ in eternity. We need to flesh and blood physical hope. Here’s
the way John Updike, the great American poet put it in his seven stanzas at Easter. He says this, let us not mock God with metaphor, right like the idea that Easter is just a metaphor for hope or something like that. What does not mock God with metaphor, analogy sidestepping transcendence making of the event, a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages. Let us walk through that door. And that is what we need to do. So we get where Tom is coming from. We understand his skepticism. At the same time, that doesn’t make it right automatically, because there is a danger here of demanding that God prove himself to us. Jesus saw this some chapters earlier in John’s gospel, John, chapter four, verse 48, he says to the crowds, unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe and that, by the way, was a rebuke, not an explanation. He was not saying I get it, you guys need a sign or else you won’t believe he’s saying, why is it that you feel like you have to see a sign until you believe? Because there’s a demand in there. The demand is, unless God does fill in the blank. Unless God does this, I won’t be believe, I won’t believe he’s got to prove himself so that the fill in the blank, it might be proof like our friend, Tommy here, it might be unreasonable proof, even proof that doesn’t square with history, how historical proof works, a lot of us want mathematical or scientific proof that’s not coming for an event like this. So might be proof, but it might be power, that we’re demanding of God, unless God changes my circumstances. Unless God makes my life go the way I think it should go, I won’t believe. And that’s a problem. To problem. This is why Jesus rebukes this attitude because it is coming to God on our terms. It is as if we’re saying to God, you need to meet my standards, in order to enter my life. If God is God, and if he is even anything like the God the Bible depicts, that’s not how it’s gonna work. If God is God, we should be in awe that we get to come at all and we will certainly enter on his terms. Do you have demands? Do you have an unless list? Unless he does this? I won’t believe Do you have? And unless this, hang on to it, we’re going to talk more about it in a moment. But we ask you one more question. Is that list fair? Is it even reasonable? Where are we demanding things of God that don’t make sense? Like you don’t want to be duped? Sure, I get that I don’t want to be duped, either. I’m skeptical of most things I read in the news, for example, but you don’t wanna be late to the party either. Like if the whole city saw the UFO, at a certain point, you’re the one looking dumb. Now, we got to think about that. Because that’s exactly what we have, by the way, what the disciples did to Thomas, the church, and frankly, the Bible has done for us. It’s crying out through the ages, we saw we have seen the risen Christ. Now you don’t need to check your mind at the door. To believe this. I would never ask you that. If you’ve been coming here for any time, you know that I’m not asking you to check your mind at the door. I’m not asking you to believe without asking questions. Quite the opposite. I think we are called to a reasonable faith. But the point is, you can’t duck the claim either. The claim is sitting out there now. And you may be going okay, but there’s a burden of proof. So if the claim is Jesus rose from the dead church, you got to prove that okay, I will grant that’s true, we should mount some evidence for the resurrection. Happy to do that for you. By the way, we got a little blue book you can read that’ll help you. But there’s another burden of proof and that’s on the skeptic, which might be you this morning, you still have to explain the birth of the church. You have to explain where this claim came from in the first place. So again, maybe you don’t think your neighbor saw a UFO last night. But something happened, so that 50 of them are talking about what they saw the night before you better come up with a better explanation than what they just came up with. Especially considering we now know people back then didn’t believe things easily. You know, there are lots of dead messiahs in history. There are a bunch of them in Israel right around the time of Christ. You know what happened to those dead messiahs afterwards? Nothing. Like there’s a guy named Simon Bar Kokhba very famous would be Messiah. In fact that name Bar Kokhba means son of the star Our that was not his last name. That was the title he was given by the most famous rabbi of the day because that Rabbi knew this is the Messiah who will deliver us from Rome. Then Rome killed him, much like Rome killed Jesus. How many of you have friends who are bar copyrights today? Practicing by our cook piano tea? No one? No one. Why? Because that’s what happens to dead messiahs. Nothing except for Jesus. Now, there’s a few billion people in the world going, we’ve seen him, you have to explain why this story is different. So we see our doubt. Maybe I’ve exposed your demands a little bit. At this point, we’ve also exposed our need to render a verdict though, you can’t just be agnostic here. So we’re still looking at a tipping point, what will tip us let’s keep going scene to the demonstrates demonstration verses 26 and 27. A week later, his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors relaxed, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you. And he said to Thomas, Put your finger here, see my hands, reach out your hand and put it into my side to stop doubting and believe. So a week passes. Jesus is in no rush, by the way, you ever feel that way? We’re like, Lord, I need this yesterday. And God goes, let’s talk early next week. He’s just on his own schedule. Alright, so a week passes. But Tommy’s there this time? Did you notice the disciples are still in this locked upper room, you know why the doors are locked, because they’re scared out of their wits, that what happened to Jesus is going to happen to them that the Romans and the Jews are gonna conspire together and put them to death. Also, this does not seem like a group that is on the verge of changing the world. Like a group that’s on the verge of risking life and limb to go out and proclaim this crazy, crazy message. The locked door is no problem for Jesus, by the way. It’s not that he’s coming from outside the room. I know some of you are like, so he can walk through walls. Do we get to do that when we get to heaven? That’s not what’s happening here. Jesus exists even now in the flesh. He is in his body. And yet he’s not in the universe. Currently, the physical universe, he’s not on Neptune. He’s not living on Yavin four or something. Okay, let’s see who my Star Wars nerds are with that one. That was like three of you were like, Yeah, I feel seen. The rest of you have no idea what I just said. He is in the spiritual realm that is kind of like here and not here at the same time. So what he does is he manifests his physical presence in the room at that time. What does he say to them? By the way, if that didn’t make sense to you, and you’re like, my mind can’t get around that. That’s cool. Okay, look, there is room for mystery. When it comes to the deepest truths. It makes no sense that we with our tiny little finite minds would understand all that an infinite God understands. So like, we’ll get it. We’ll get it someday. You got eternity to figure this out. Okay. So Jesus comes, he appears to them and he says, Peace be with you. This is not just a standard greeting, although it is that Shalom. It’s exactly you want the resurrection if it happened, we’ll accomplish peace, peace for us. In fact, we’re gonna spend the next few weeks unpacking this that series that Kyle told us about wishing and hoping that’s it, we’re talking about peace. How do we actually get peace in this life, even if the resurrection happened, it means that God is making everything sad, come untrue, and healing his broken world. Which means if you’re here today, you should want the resurrection to be true. Doesn’t mean it is like, and we don’t want to get into wish casting here or anything like that. You should want the resurrection to be true. Because I mean, especially after the last few weeks, right? I feel like I’d say that any given week, though, especially after the last few weeks. It’s always true. Like, we need a bit of hope we would really use some certainty that good triumphs and love wins in the end. All that we seek justice, immortality.
I mean, even something like the environmental issue, I love animals. I get really bummed out by extinctions and stuff, okay, like even some of that stuff where we’re, we’re like wrecking the earth. All that stuff gets fixed. All of that happens if the resurrection happens, and none of that happens if the resurrection isn’t true. Because look, you got two alternatives if there isn’t a physical resurrection, you could have spiritual resurrection, but the physical doesn’t go on. Or it’s just physical when there is no spiritual. So this one, you know, especially with Eastern religions in particular if it’s just spiritual in the end that none of the physical matters, who cares what happens to the earth? Who cares if there are poor all across the world who are diagnosis karma. And by the way, that’s good because it’s teaching them to throw off the shackles of the physical worlds they can experience the bliss of nirvana. If it’s just a physical world, there is no spiritual, this is all there is, you get none of what you most want. I mean, if Darwin is right, in explaining how the world works, do you think there’s gonna be justice for the poor and downtrodden and marginalize? No, they die so that the strongest can survive. And that’s a good thing within Darwin. And then what does any of it matter? Anyway, you can devote your life to your cause the sun still burns out, everybody dies, no one remembers that we were here your life does not matter. You can see why we want to physical resurrection, but still only if it’s true. Only if it’s true, wishing that the world would be so is not enough. So what Tommy needs is what we need, which is a demonstration. Do you notice that Jesus quotes Thomas, almost verbatim? It’s like he’s standing before Thomas going, everything you said which by the way, I heard because I’m the omniscient God, everything you said, that you needed me to do for you everything you wanted to do, go ahead and do it. Put your hands wherever you need to put him. Okay. He overcomes all Thomas’s obstacles. And I know what you’re thinking, as you’re sitting there. You’re thinking, if he would do that, for me, I believe to two, which I will say first of all, not necessarily. Not necessarily. I know there are a lot of us who are thinking, if I could just see a miracle, I would believe you’ve thought that before I know you have you know who saw a lot of miracles, the people who put Jesus to death, they killed him because of the miracles he performed, at least in part, so not necessary. But the other part of it is, hang on, I got more to say. All right, so just live with that. If you do that for me, then I believe live with it, we’re gonna come back to it a moment. Just pause though. And notice how tenderly and lovingly, Jesus meets Thomas where he is, like Thomas has got these doubts. And he’s got these demands. He’s like a little bit petulant, even, and Jesus meets him with grace. Jesus really did rise, which Thomas knows now. And he gives us all that we need to believe. But of course, that then leads to an invitation. What Jesus says to Thomas, Stop doubting and believe. Jesus says, I’ve done everything you’ve asked. There’s only one response. Now. Of course, the invitation is still hanging out there today. No doubt, this is what Jesus is saying to us even now. But how? How do I stop doubting and believe? Still waiting for that tipping point, still waiting that tipping point because you and I didn’t get to touch Jesus’s wounds, or see him in the flesh. Jesus knows that. And he has something to say. So let’s keep reading scene three, the declaration verses 28 and 29. Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God, then Jesus told him, because you have seen me you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. So really, there are two declarations here. Both are crucial. First, Thomas Thomas expresses this profound faith. He calls Jesus my Lord, and my God, my God, he recognizes Jesus’s divinity, resurrection will do that, won’t it? So he knows now that Jesus is more than just a good man, more than just an insightful teacher. Again, we’ve had a lot of those in history, he has something else entirely. He is divine, as he claimed to be throughout his life. So Thomas recognizes his divinity, but also his authority. He calls him, Lord, that is he saying, I’m submitting to you now as well. This is the essence of faith. It is more than just belief in certain facts. Yes, there is some of that you need to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but it’s more it’s an ongoing trust as well. Like this is not just intellectual, but this is a whole being trust, I believe the third law of thermodynamics. It does nothing to motivate me day to day. That is not what we’re talking about, right? This is a whole person response. And notice, Thomas has this response without doing what he said he needed to do. He said unless As I put my hands in the wounds, maybe John just didn’t record it for us. But it’s not here in the text, he does not put his hands anywhere. Because seeing was enough. In fact, I’m guessing he didn’t even need to see the wounds, just seeing Jesus would be enough because he knew there was only one explanation. And so Thomas reaches his tipping point. As I said, at the start, we will remain skeptical until skepticism itself is the foolish choice. And that’s the moment Thomas has reached. And then Thomas’s climactic declaration triggers Jesus’s declaration. It’s like, he’s looking at Thomas. And then looking past him, to us here today, all the people through the centuries, who will believe later, and who won’t get what Thomas got. So Jesus looks at me and it’s like, he says, You got to see me. But I’m about to ascend, go into that spiritual world. In other words, so blessed are those who don’t see, and yet, belief. Bless it. By the way, one of those religious words we use all the time, that means almost nothing to us today, no idea what it means we just keep saying it. So bless it. I mean, happy is what it means at its root in some ways, but the heart of it is what makes us happy. It’s the experience of God’s favor our welcome that we receive. And so bless it are those of us who experience in the favor of God who believe without seeing. So here’s the point, though no one certainly not me, not the Bible. No one is arguing it’s not different today. than it was for Thomas, this is not air travel. Look outside, you’ll see a plane, not even a UFO necessarily, because the UFO could come back, I suppose. This is more like believing something from history, like did Caesar crossed the Rubicon? How are you going to know that again, you can’t, you can’t put that together in a in a lab. Euclidean geometry does nothing for us here, you can’t go back and check it. So it’s a different experience. And it’s a different coming to faith coming to that conclusion, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s more precious belief, because if not 100%. Again, two plus two equals four does not move my heart does not change my life. So it’s more than just a careful weighing of the evidence only. It is the spiritual work of God in your spirit. And it is a work that God is still doing today. In a sense, it’s actually exactly the same as Thomas in that Jesus really did rise, and really did does give us everything we need to believe. It’s just that the gift is different. You see this throughout the New Testament, Paul says in Romans 10, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. We need to hear not see Peter says the same thing Peter, who saw the resurrected Christ in the flesh says the same thing. Since First Peter one versus eight nine, Though you have not seen him. I’ve seen him you haven’t seen him, though you have not seen him you love him. And even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. A few verses later, Peter says, You’ve been born again through the living and enduring word of God. And that was the word that was preached to you. It’s a hearing. It’s a hearing, although Paul says to the Galatian, church before your very eyes, Jesus was portrayed, clearly portrayed as crucified. It’s as though the the preaching creates the image in our minds so that we actually can see the resurrected Christ. That’s even now you are hearing and thus are seeing what more do you need? According to Jesus? Nothing.
So what does Jesus say to us today, then? Well, nothing new. And here it is. This is the takeaway. Remember one thing from this morning remember this. You have seen enough. So stop doubting and belief. You have seen enough. So stop doubting and believe it doesn’t feel that easy. I grant I know some of you were like, hang on, not so sure about this. But do the work. I asked earlier. Do you have an unless list? Unless God does this? I won’t believe okay, what have you done with your list? Have you tried to find answers? Because seeing and touching that’s not an option anymore. So how are you going to find answers like what would it take? For you to believe that’s a good question to ask yourself, what would make you change your mind? And is it fair? Is it a reasonable standard? Or is it a different standard than everything else? You think? God did Caesar crossed the Rubicon? I don’t get mathematical or scientific proof of that. But there’s really good historical proof. One reason we know that of course, is because the Roman Republic failed. And we had the birth of the Caesar’s the Emperor’s after that I gotta explain that no thing that makes the most sense. That is Caesar crossing the Rubicon. That’s the resurrection in a nutshell. That’s all it is. How do you explain the birth of the church, something had to happen to create that. And frankly, we got a lot lot lot more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ than we do for anything Julius Caesar did. This is too important to trifle with. You got to look for answers. You have a mountain of evidence before you’ve got the church through the ages saying we have seen many of them were eyewitnesses, even. They believed carefully on the evidence like Thomas, and they face persecution and martyrdom. All they had to do to spare their lives and their family’s lives was say, we didn’t see him. But they couldn’t, because they did see him. We got to take that testimony seriously. You can investigate the lines of evidence, the fact that Jewish Muslim, secular scholars all agree that the tomb was empty. Okay, that’s something you got to deal with that, again, the birth of the church, you got to deal with that the conversions of people like Paul, you got to deal with that. So dig in, dig in, do the work. Read a book. We’re kind of post literate today. So listen to a podcast, maybe I can give you some recommendations. That’s too much work, you want dialogue instead, sit down with me. I will buy you coffee, I will buy you a Coke, I will buy you a beer, I will take you out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can order lobster even if you come in good faith, like you’re ready to actually engage with our friends. Kyle mentioned another one go to Christianity explored, starts next week. 915. It’s early. It’s not that early, you can do it. Now I know the stats, you know, they say one out of four skeptics will come to a class geared towards skeptics in a church. I don’t blame you, by the way. Okay, I wouldn’t want to do that. Either. Be the one and show up. Because it matters too much. Or maybe the most important thing you could do. Without question in Scripture backing up on this, just keep coming. Just come next Sunday 1030 most important thing you could do is sit here in the church, getting to know believers, hearing the Word of God proclaimed weekend and week out. You got to do this because it matters. Let me just as we close tease out the implications here because it does matter. If Jesus rose from the dead as he did, then everything he said is true. Like that’s fair, pretty much proved he’s got at that point. If he didn’t rise from the dead, then nothing he said is true. Or whatever he said was true. He got lucky. He kind of said like Love your enemies. Okay, we could have figured that out on our own kind of thing. So when it comes to Christianity, we’re either all in or tossing to the side. Those are the only two logical options and it comes down to the question of the resurrection, of course, but being in church on Easter and all that, let’s just assume for a moment that it is true. Work with me here, okay? So it’s not just a question of believing in the resurrection. It’s more than that, like Thomas, the only fitting response is my Lord and my God. It is belief and trust. It is submission. It is an act of following Jesus it is embracing the whole kit and caboodle what Jesus claimed to be and what Jesus claimed to be doing. Why is God here clothed in flesh? Anyway? That’s a good question. That I skipped past a really important part of the story. Thomas said he wanted to see Jesus’s wounds, his wounds, his hands where the nails had pierced him when he was crucified, his side where the spear has pierced him all the way to his heart so that the Romans knew he was dead well and truly dead. Jesus didn’t just come to teach, although he did teach, he came to die and arise again. Why did he die? This was substitution. He died in our place, because he took what we deserved, which was God’s fierce and just anger at our sin, the punishment we deserve. He took it on himself so that we can receive what he deserved, which is a child’s welcome, before the Father God, all mighty. I said earlier that we should want the rest of direction to be true. Really, we should want the whole story to be true. The substitutionary death, the perfect life, the triumph and rising all of it. Why? Because whatever you are seeking, you find it in this true story. You’re looking for hope, fresh start. Second Chance. If you got history littered with failure, or abuse, or addiction, or suffering, maybe it’s your story, currently, here’s hope. There’s the possibility of new life in Christ, just as Christ was buried was raised in New Life. So we can be also if anyone is in Christ, he’s in a new creation. Paul says in first Corinthians 10. Second, are you looking for acceptance? Like you have that feeling of guilt or shame, plagues you that you don’t measure up? I’ve got bad news. And good news. The bad news is you don’t measure up, you can’t measure up, that fear of failure is always going to be with you. And it does not take much to experience it completely. And yet, even though you don’t measure up, you can be welcomed anyway. Not because anything you do this is like going to an Oscars after party with Tom Hanks. And everybody’s like, who are you? And why are you here? You’re like, I have no idea. I’m just here with Tom. Okay. Like, that’s the only reason I belong here. That’s us with Jesus in the very courts of glory, you looking for approval? Have you been rejected by parents, perhaps by a spouse, by family, by friends? Well, if this story is true, you can be adopted into God’s family, again, welcomed as His child fully known all your issues, fully known but not rejected, fully known and fully loved. Are you looking for justice? Maybe that’s personal, like I was wronged. And I need to know that that person will have to answer for how they wronged me, maybe it’s societal. You’re just looking at the world and you’re upset. I know I am daily, because the fabric of the world has just been ripped. If the resurrection is true, then every rung will be set right? In a remade world. That’s the hope we have. And then deepest of all the one we all nod our heads here, of course, are you looking for love, our deepest need. And yet no human relationship can fully satisfy us. There’s always the danger, they’ll leave. And in the end, death separates us. And yet here it is. Unconditional and eternal love in Christ. I could go on, I could go on but you see the point. This is what we need, what we want what we most seek, you’ve seen enough. So stop doubting and believe. Like Thomas, in faith, cry out, my Lord, and my God. What does that look like acknowledge who he is the Lord. And God, he’s got the divinity in the authority. You admit who you are imperfect, to say the least. Selfish, you want the older religious word for it sinful. They all mean the same thing though. Now, which really is admit who you are, and then accept the gift of grace, the title spoke of earlier, the free gift of God is eternal life we do that we get that when we cry out, my Lord, and my God, today could be the day that you are raised to new life. And if you’ve sensed God’s stirring in you now going, yes, I’ve seen enough I can stop doubting and believe. When you pray with me. Lord, we worship you, as the risen Christ. You were the Lamb of God, slain, killed, murdered, because of us and by us in our place to pay a debt we owed, but could not possibly pay. But then you rose again. And so we worship you as the triumphant and reigning king of kings and Lord of lords.
That’s who you are. Who we are. Is a sadder story. We are broken. We are messed up. We have made mistakes. We have lives filled with regret. We have hurt and used people and there’s no one in this room who could not agree with those words I just said, we know that we know that the Bible calls that sin. The word isn’t important. The reality is we deserve punishment. We don’t deserve you. We don’t deserve welcome and love and yet you have made a way for us to receive both welcome and love by your son’s death on the cross. So Lord, we confess our sin. We confess Christ’s finished work We put our hope and our trust in nothing else but in his grace would you receive us now we pray in Christ’s name, amen.

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