Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sent from my iPhone
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Thursday, April 05, 2018
I spoke with a fellow selling crystals for wands at a huge gem festival. He gave a great sales pitch. I let him go on. When got to the end ibwinked at him, smirked and said quietly " Surely you dont believe this rubbish do you? " He started to vow and declare, then noticed I was beginning to laugh, and he said quietly "No, of course not, but I can make a few quick dollars from idiots that do!"
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
John 20 from Skeptic to Believer.
John 20: 24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,4 was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Belief is an important word in the Gospel of John. The word 'belief' is recorded 11 times in Matthew's Gospel. It turns up 15 times in the Gospel of Mark. Luke records this word 9 times. But in the Gospel of john the word turns up more than 100 times. It is the theme of John's Gospel. John 20:31 "1 ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα ⸀πιστεύητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ."
Many believed in Him, but He didn't believe in them it says in John 2:21 the Samaritans believed in Him. (John 4:50,53) John 3:16 reminds us that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
1.The Problem of Doubt.
Doubt. It can be a very uncomfortable experience.
The word that is translated doubt in our Bibles comes from διακρινόμενος, ὁ γὰρ διακρινόμενος ἔοικεν κλύδωνι θαλάσσης ἀνεμιζομένῳ καὶ ῥιπιζομένῳ·
"διακρίνεσθαι is not = ἀπιστεῖν (Luk 24:11), but includes in it the essential character of ἀπιστία: while πίστις says 'Yes,' and ἀπιστία 'No,' διακρίνεσθαι is the union of 'Yes' and 'No,' but so that 'No' is the weightier: it is that inward giving way which leans not to πίστις, but to ἀπιστία.
One aspect is our schooling and indoctrination into Secularism. Rationalism and Empiricism have dominated our school system with an emphasis upon humanism. You may have been washed up in this indoctrination. Being stuck between 2 worldviews, secularism and Christianity, can feel quite uncomfortable at times. It feels like you are sitting on a fence. You need to get over the fence.
Doubt can feel uncomfortable.
However, it is not the word for doubt that is used here. Thomas was not "doubting Thomas" he was disbelieving, unbelieving Thomas.
The Gospel of John presents the miracles, teachings, and events that are recorded by an eyewitness to stimulate faith in Christ…. Turning water to wine… healing a government officials son – long distance – without even being there --- feeding 5000 people with a bag lunch… giving sight to a man born blind… healing a lame man… walking on water… raising Lazarus from the dead… He offered living water to the woman at the well… he described Himself as the light of the world, the bread of life, the way the truth and the life… He confronted religious hypocrites, and comforted those who could see their need for grace and forgiveness…
The grand finale of the book is the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
John believed that Jesus actually rose from the dead three days after he was crucified, dead and buried.
2. The Proof
Jesus is Alive John 20
The tomb of Jesus was as secure as humans could make it.
Four physical aspects of the tomb were given special attention: the tomb itself, the stone, the seal, and the guards.
1. The Sepulchre. In John 19:41 the tomb of Jesus is described for us as a new tomb in which
no one had ever been buried. The other Gospels add the information that it had been hewn out of solid rock. Matthew tells us that it was Joseph of Arimethea's own tomb and inasmuch as he was a rich and powerful man, one can be sure this tomb was secure. No ordinary grave robber would be allowed to violate this man's resting place.
2. The stone. The stone that was placed at the entrance to a Palestinian tomb was used as protection against both man and beast. Normally there was a depression directly in front of the opening, and while one man might be able to roll the stone into the depression, it took many to roll it out. The Gospel writers take pains to inform us that the stone in front of Jesus' tomb was unusually large and consequently very heavy. Mark observes that when the women came to the tomb early Sunday morning they were debating among themselves how they might move the stone. Obviously it was too large for three women to move.
3. The seal. Tombs in Palestine were not normally sealed because the stone was usually enough to keep any grave robbers out; besides Jewish people normally didn't bury anything valuable with their loved ones, like the Egyptians routinely did. There had to be good reason for the Romans to take such action, and the reason in this case is clearly stated in Matt. 27:62-66:
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again. So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first." "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
I would suppose that since the normal way of sealing a tomb was by means of a cord laid across the stone, set in wax at both ends and stamped with the Roman seal, this time several such cords may have been used. Anyone attempting to move the stone would break one of the seals and the vandalism would be obvious.
4. The Soldiers. The Jews were going to leave nothing to chance. They were going to keep that body in the grave until the fourth day no matter what, so they asked for Roman guards to be posted day and night. Commanding these guards would have been a centurion. The soldiers would have been well-trained and quite aware that the punishment for sleeping on one's post or allowing a prisoner to escape, even a dead prisoner, was immediate execution.
There was no danger of these soldiers collaborating with Jesus' disciples. The Roman seal affixed to the stone before Joseph's tomb was far more sacred to them than the memories of a man who "went around doing good." Soldiers cold-blooded enough to gamble over a dying victim's cloak are not the kind to be hoodwinked by timid Galileans or to jeopardize their necks by sleeping on duty.
In summary, everything that human ingenuity could think of, from the tomb to the stone, the seal, and the guard, was arranged to make sure that the body of Jesus did not get out of that grave before Monday morning. Ironically in going so far to prevent theft, Jesus' enemies inadvertently provided additional witness to the fact that a miracle actually took place, for there was no other possible explanation of what happened next.
Despite all their precautions, we find secondly that . . .
On that first Easter morning some things were missing from the tomb.
1. The stone was rolled away. We read in John 20:1: "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance." Only Matthew tells us how the stone was rolled away. In chapter 28:1-6 he writes,
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said."
So the stone was not rolled away by any man or group of men, but by an angel of God.
Furthermore, it was not rolled away to let Jesus out, but rather to let the disciples in.
2. The soldiers were missing. (Matt. 28:11-15). When the angel first appeared the guards were stunned, as most of us would have been. Utterly powerless and perhaps even unconscious for a time, they shortly "came to" and hastily left the area of the tomb, presumably because of fear. I would give a lot to have been privy to the conversation of these guards. I imagine they had a vigorous discussion of the options open to them, which were few. One option was probably to flee, but where does a Roman soldier hide in Palestine? A second option would be to turn themselves over to Pilate's mercy, but Pilate was not known for his mercy! Their execution would have been immediate.
A third option–the one they seized–was to seek help from the Jewish religious leaders, and this is the action they took. (After all, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend.") They reasoned that the Jews hated Jesus so much that they would have a vested interest in suppressing the evidence of His resurrection. If so, they reasoned correctly, for the religious leaders readily agreed to establish an alibi for the soldiers. There is something pitiful, even humorous about it. They are told to say, "His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep." If they were asleep how did they know who stole the body, or even what happened to it?
3. The Sepulchre was empty. the body of Jesus was gone. This, of course, was the most significant thing missing from the tomb. Luke tells it best: The angels said to the women, "Why do you seek for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" The missing body was a profound reality that could not be explained in any other way but resurrection. If the body of Jesus was not really resurrected, His disciples could not have made thousands of converts in the city of Jerusalem less than two months after His death by proclaiming that He had risen from the grave. The Jewish leaders could have muzzled these disciples forever simply by finding the body of Jesus wherever the disciples had allegedly hidden it, but there is no record that they even looked for it, because in their hearts they knew there was no natural explanation for the missing body. It's important to consider these things that were missing from the tomb–the stone, the guards, the body.
However, we must not overlook the fact that one thing was not missing from the tomb.
Would you turn with me to John 20:3-8:
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple (John), who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
The Sightings were real
(10-18) Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
His post-resurrection appearances. We read about these at the end of each of the four Gospels, as well as in the first chapter of Acts. But the only place we find a summary of these appearances is in I Cor. 15:3-8, where the Apostle Paul writes,
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep (i.e. died). Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.
(19-22)The Sightings Jesus Appears to His Disciples
2. The transformed lives of the Apostles. I think this is perhaps the single most powerful piece of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. The following description of the change that occurred in the lives of the apostles after the resurrection is striking: On the day of the crucifixion they were filled with sadness; on the first day of the week with gladness. At the crucifixion they were hopeless; on the first day of the week their hearts glowed with certainty and hope. When the message of the resurrection first came they were incredulous and hard to be convinced, but once they became assured they never doubted again. What could account for the astonishing change in these men in so short a time? The mere removal of the body from the grave could never have transformed their spirits, and characters. Three days are not enough for a legend to spring up which would so affect them. Time is needed for a process of legendary growth.
It is a psychological fact that demands a full explanation.
Think of the character of the witnesses, men and women who gave the world the highest ethical teaching it has ever known, and who even on the testimony of their enemies lived it out in their lives. Think of the psychological absurdity of picturing a little band of defeated cowards cowering in an upper room one day and a few days later transformed into a company that no persecution could silence--and then attempting to attribute this dramatic change to nothing more convincing than a miserable fabrication they were trying to foist upon the world. That simply wouldn't make sense
3. The Prescription
(23-31) Jesus Appears to Thomas
Thomas' problem was more than doubt. It was unbelief.
The word 'belief' is a very important theme in John's gospel.
Thomas says οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω.
The Lord Jesus sees that belief and unbelief are the important issues in Thomas' life.
καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός.
Belief is important because belief gives you eternal life.
31 ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα ⸀πιστεύητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.
Belief is a very important word in the Gospel of John. The word belief turns up 7 times here in chapter 20. Belief has different levels… it moves through several stages before reaching full blown BELIEF. When a skeptic considers the claims of Christ and moves to intellectual acceptance and then moves to commitment – that is Belief in the NT sense of the word. – not unlike the guy who believes that there is a rock on the other side of the void… and demonstrates that belief by jumping!
Remember John 2. The people believed in Jesus, but Jesus didn't believe in them. He didn't believe in their belief.
The importance of belief is underlined in John 20 – just after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you have a bible with you this morning – open to John 20 and scan through the chapter.
There are some steps you can take… to move forward… Look at a case study of one of the first seeker/followers of Jesus, a man called Thomas, famous for his skepticism, and see how he moves from Skeptic to Believer.
Ask yourself Why you have doubts? I think the problem of Thomas was not a problem of doubt. Thomas was a sook. He was having an emotional meltdown over his hopes being crushed. It wasn't what he had signed on for!
He had a similar meltdown that is recorded earlier in John 11.
Some friends of mine have had similar meltdowns.
One was a commando during WW2. He parachuted in to the Sandrakin death March camp. He had such a meltdown it took him 40 years to get over it. He was angry and bitter and distressed for 40 years! He turned his back on the Lord over it. When he finally turned back, when his wife exorted him to believe in Jesus again, he did! His character changed immediately from being bitter and angry to being kind and loving. I shared this with another a few years ago. He had been a bomber pilot and was angry and bitter over that! He too believed in Jesus and changed immediately.
What does John tell us about Thomas? Three facts:
1. Name Dydemus = Greek equivalent of Hebrew Thomas = both mean "Twin"
2. One of the twelve An "insider" ... someone who had been with Jesus ... but still struggled. This is a relevant issue not only to total skeptics, but to those who follow and still struggle...
3. Not with disciples earlier Why wasn't Thomas with the rest of the disciples when Jesus came? (Was he running away? a loner? or sorting things out?
Good reminder that people are different – the process things differently – God meets us where we are… one of the reasons that in commitment to making mature followers of Jesus – we say "where ever you are on you spiritual journey, we want to help you take the next step.)
Unconvinced by eyewitness testimony
A week later
Group still together
Jesus Confronted Thomas with his unbelief.
How did Jesus deal with Thomas? (Did he do exactly what Thomas demanded? Did He ignore Thomas's demand, and do it His own way? What evidence did Thomas actually ask for?
What did Jesus demand of Thomas?
Do not disbelieve but believe! Verse 27.
Jesus supplies the evidence and then appeals to Thomas to make a decision: "Cease being an unbeliever, be a believer." There is still an act of the will .... called for.
Logical response to Believing that Jesus is the Son of God = submission and worship. The real issue at heart was Thomas' rebellion
There is a Master who is calling you today. He is saying to you. Do not disbelieve, believe.
It is a personal thing. He is calling you personally to believe in Him. Don't resist Him. Don't rebel any longer.
It is a precise thing. He wants you to believe. He wants you to believe that Christ died for your sins according to the scriptures that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. It is precise. Will you believe that He is your saviour today?
There is a mindset that is contrary.
Someone shook my hands the other week and said, "you have never carried a shovel." There were no callouses! I had in fact worked as a labourer in a form work company carrying the heavy scaffolding. I did that for a few weeks. My boss said that I would look like Arnie Schwartnegger after 3 weeks, and everything would feel so light. I didn't. It didn't and I quit!
But your heart gets calloused the more you say no to Jesus. The more you refuse to believe on Him for whatever reasons, the easier it gets to say no to believing in Jesus.
This is a conscious thing, to no to believing in Jesus.
This is a cumulative thing to not believe in Jesus.
There is a Moment that is Critical. And that moment is now. Many years ago I knew a young guy. There had been a bottler of a sermon at church. I could see that my friend had been touched. At the end of the service I caught his eye, and I could read everything that was going on in his mind right then. He was thinking "Should I become a Christian tonight? But there is that party on Friday night. Maybe I can put it off until next week." He saw I was trying to get through the crowd to talk to him, so he snuck out quickly. He went to that party Friday night. Or he nearly did. His car hit a tree and he was killed instantly. There is a moment that is critical and that moment is now. You need to respond to the Lord Jesus now. He is saying to you what He said to Thomas. "do not disbelieve, but believe!" Will you do that tonight?