I’ve decided to have one Easter sermon. Each year I will begin preparation for the new Easter sermon with the sermon as I preached it the previous year. Hopefully, it is worth hearing again. Hopefully, I can improve it each year.
Here is the current version of my one Easter sermon (edited a bit for the purpose of a blog post).
We typically refer to the disciple Thomas with the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” But does he deserve such a title? Before we cast judgment upon Thomas, let’s step into his sandals.
Thomas lived on the other side of Easter.
- He followed Jesus from the beginning.
- He watched Jesus heal (Picture Jesus restoring sight to the blind)
- He heard Jesus preach (Hear Jesus saying, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”)
- He witnessed miracles of Jesus with his own eyes (Picture Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a boy’s lunch)
Thomas had high expectations for what was to come. Yet, prior to the seeing the realization of those expectations … Jesus was crucified.
When Thomas heard news of the resurrection, he wanted to see the nail marks. He wanted to put his hands into the side of the resurrected Jesus. Thomas said something like, “I’ll believe when it when I see it.” Perhaps you’ve said such a thing before. If I were in Thomas’ sandals, perhaps we’d be talking about “Doubting Jeff.”
There is a good thing about doubt. At times doubt leads us to wrestle with important things and drives us to deeper faith. Where did doubt lead Thomas?
Salvation comes through the completed and sufficient work of Jesus.
We’ve picked up at chapter 20 of a 21 chapter story. In our series leading up to Easter morning we’ve witnessed Jesus turn water into wine, heal a boy near death, heal a paralyzed man, feed 5,000 with a boy’s lunch, walk on water, heal a man born blind, and raise Lazarus from the dead. These signs pointed us to a Savior. Jesus, in his earthly ministry, ate with sinners, welcomed the outcast, and gave hope to lowlifes like you and me. He spoke the words of God. He demonstrated the character of God. He was God in the flesh. Three days prior to Easter morning, Jesus paid the penalty for sin.
As we discussed on Palm Sunday: Palm branches led to the cross. The cross led to your salvation. Now we see the second act of the salvation story. The empty tomb of Easter morning provides victory over sin and death.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
I don’t offer to God my religious resume, church attendance, family tree, or good works. Those things don’t cover sin. Those things don’t bring life. Rather, you bring worship to God. You have salvation through the completed and sufficient work of Jesus.
Thomas’ declaration is accurate and personal.
Thomas missed the first appearance of Jesus because he was not with the group. The other disciples had already seen the crucifixion wounds. Thus, Thomas had to rely on second-hand information. I wonder how much you’ve missed out on because you’ve missed out on Christian community! Church is not optional. Church is crucial. Church is essential. The other disciples had seen the nail scarred hands. The disciples had to tell Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!”
Thomas said, “I’ll believe when it when I see it.”
The resurrected Jesus appeared again to the disciples. He greeted them, “Peace be with you” but focused his attention on Thomas. I love this demonstration of grace. Jesus invited Thomas to place his finger in his hand and side. “Stop doubting and believe,” Jesus instructed.
And then we find what I believe to be the strongest declaration in the New Testament: “My Lord and my God!” Thomas did not offer up a religious resume or good works. He worshipped.
“My Lord and my God” is an accurate confession. Jesus is both Lord and God. The resurrection proved it.
Want to escape death? Try doing it on your own.
Want to rid yourself of sin? Try doing it on your own.
Want to find true hope in this world? It only comes through an empty tomb.
“My Lord and my God” is also a personal declaration. The possessive pronouns make this an intimate, personal declaration. My Lord and My God! This is not a rehearsed or reused phrase. This is the declaration of a man who had a first-hand experience with the risen Lord.
Thomas’ declaration needs to be our confession.
We need to make a confession about Jesus filled with personal, possessive pronouns. Yes, Jesus is Lord and God. But what good is that declaration if he is not my Lord and my God?
Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. That includes the very sin represented in this room. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day to provide victory over sin and death. That includes your opportunity to experience victory over sin and death.
Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That is a word to you and me.
Right now, offer up: My Lord and my God!
For all eternity, offer up: My Lord and my God!