For some of us the Resurrection celebrations are over, it is time to move on. We enjoyed our long weekend but it is time to get on with the reality of life; school, work, family, bills, even elections. However, for the disciples there was no "going back". If they thought their life had changed when they were with Jesus it had completely changed now after the resurrection.
Here it was several days after Jesus appeared to them and they were still locking themselves away. Their minds must have been reeling with the death and now the resurrection of Jesus. Now here they sat in limbo, not really sure what to do. They knew their lives would never be the same, that there was no "going back" but what do they do now?
Now imagine all of this happening and you missing out on it. It would be like faithfully attending church for years and the one Sunday you miss all kinds of miraculous things happen. For some reason Thomas was not with the others on Resurrection Day. He wasn't there to hear the women's report and then Peter's nor the two disciples who had returned from Emmaus. He wasn't there to see Jesus when he appeared to the others that evening of the first day of the week. So when Thomas was told what had happened by the other disciples his reaction was very much how most of the Church would respond today:
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25)
Do you hear the finality of that statement? "I will not believe it." Sounds like some atheists I know. Show me proof or keep your mouth shut about it, is the essence of what they often say to me. I have been put off a bit by this group of young men who refuse to hear the authority of the Word and often attack it's credibility. My only argument is the Word of God and my testimony, yet these are scoffed at and mocked. So I have been asking God what to do about it and he gave me a clear response: "Allow me to reveal my glory to them."
The question then was, how does God reveal his glory to those who refuse to believe? The preference Jesus has is for us to come by faith but God is not above giving proof to those who do not believe. Jesus responded to Thomas' statement by appearing again to the disciples when Thomas was with them and he showed him the marks on his body. When God wanted to reveal his glory to the world he did it through signs and wonders in Egypt. When he birthed the Church in Jerusalem he worked signs and wonders through the Christ followers:
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. (Acts 2:43)
Jesus had preferred that people would believe him by faith, according to the prophecies but he knew many would require other persuasion:
“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” (John 4:48)
Even when people experience signs, wonders and miracles it still requires faith to enter into a relationship with Jesus. We still need faith to trust the promises of God. We need faith to live the rest of our life trusting that God has planned good for us even when the storms are fierce. But the mistake we often make is not believing that Jesus wants to reveal his glory to those who refuse to believe our words.
We engage in debates and we try to persuade close minded people of the truth. We try to convince people who have hardened their hearts, who are not asking questions about God but are out to prove that he does not exist. Stop using words and allow God to reveal himself by his glory. Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, reminding them how they came to accept Jesus:
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
Some believers scoff and say that the age of signs, wonders and miracles has long since past. No one has shown proof to me yet from the Word of God that this is God's intention, that he put a time limit on his glory being revealed. I believe that such an attitude has allowed the world to get where it is. Do you think God planned for the world to get this bad or do you think that he simply knew it would get this bad because his children would stop believing? It is an unfortunate fact that there are many Thomas' in the world who will not believe our testimony but will respond to the glory of God. We need to stop this unbelief and allow God to reveal his glory again to the world.
The next question is, how do we do this? We do it by finding out what is going on in their lives, asking them what they need done. Do they have someone who is dying of some kind of illness? Is there an impossible situation? Find out the most impossible thing and pray about that. Make it a huge thing so that there would be no doubt of God's glory. Tell them you are praying about that thing. Allow them to hear your prayer. Tell them God is going to give proof of his existence and his love for them. Stick your neck out, believe with no doubt and God will do this thing and reveal himself.
Come on now, either we believe or we don't. Either we have faith or we don't. What is the use of your words if you can't believe enough to put your faith into action? Let's stop treating Christianity as a philosophy and a goodwill agency and let's get some power behind it again. Let's open our hearts and minds so that Jesus can be revealed in his glory again. The world wants proof, let's give them proof. Speak to the mountains in their lives and see their reaction when they jump out of the way. Jesus wondered if he would find faith in this world when he returned. Well, will he?