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Sunday, April 12, 2015

04122015 1st Sunday After Easter - "Proof in the pudding!"

Sermon Audio

April 12, 2015
We need proof!
Have you ever heard the saying, “Proof is in the pudding!”  This saying dates back to the 14th Century, but for we who gather here this morning in the 21st Century the First Sunday After Easter we daily search for proof.  For some of us we search for proof that God still loves us, for others proof that God still cares about us, but today just like the disciples from our Gospel, we desperately search for and need proof that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.  For without proof of the resurrection, why are we even here?

In our Gospel this morning Jesus Christ offers the greatest proof for His disciples that He rose from the dead.  Just as our society and world watches lots of television shows and movies on the ‘paranormal’, in the time of the disciples, they believed in spirits and the supernatural.  Remember when Jesus was walking on the water on the Sea of Galilee, they thought they saw a spirit, and it was Jesus.  So the disciples after the events of the crucifixion clearly needed proof that this person Who had walked through a locked door, Whom they could see and hear wasn’t a figment of their imagination.  The disciples needed proof.

What is the first thing, Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”  Not only is this a greeting, but Jesus was offering them full forgiveness for falling away or in their case, running away in the Garden.  Jesus is also trying to dispel their collective fears that He was not a ghost or a figment of their imagination.  Most ghosts or spirits don’t want you to touch or make any contact, because they are not ‘physically there’.  But Jesus was different.  Jesus then “showed them both His Hands and His Side”.  Why show Hands with holes and His pierced Side?  It was to dispel their doubt, fears and human nature of doubt.  Can you imagine, Jesus motioning them to come over and touch Him.  Jesus was first and foremost teaching the disciples a lesson.

Jesus was teaching the disciples the lesson that Adam and Eve had missed in the Garden of Eden.  “Don’t doubt God”.  It’s alright to question God, but again, “the proof is in the pudding”.  Jesus standing in their midst with Hands that they would have seen many times before now with Holes where the nails had been.  And His side, where the spear had pierced Him was the proof that He Who stood before them was He Whom had walked with them, talked with them and fed them with His Word and Wisdom.  Jesus was showing the proof that the disciples needed that He was not dead and was alive.  Jesus was giving proof that He was risen from the grave and had overcome death.

For most, the proof of bodily presence is enough, but we who gather here today like the disciples need not only the ‘proof’, but we have doubts because we weren’t there.  We didn’t experience those three days and we are not able like the disciples to ‘touch Jesus’ and hear His comforting Words.  Enter Thomas the most famous disciple because of His doubt.  Thomas words are clear, “Unless I see His Hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His Side, I will not believe.” 

We desperately want and need this proof as well.  Every time the weather comes on the television and the rain is North, South, East or West of our fields that so desperately need the moisture.  When the wheat crop fails because of frost or hail, the corn or wheat price plummets because of the market forces that are beyond our control.  The price of chemicals rises and we are expected to live when we daily wonder if we need to sell land or liquidate in order to get the bank off of our backs or stop them from calling us every day.  Or personally our relationship with our spouse, kids or family has hit a rough patch because either we aren’t as close as we were years ago or they gossiped about what we were doing or what we said.  We immediately doubt whether God is among us or walking with us and whether He is there for us now.  We search for God’s presence in our lives and ‘give God an ultimatum’!  Either show up, or I’m gone, from the relationship with our spouse or family, were gone from worship because of who is sitting in the next pew, we refuse to witness, teach or contribute to the church, because we’ve done our time and we even doubt the willingness to believe that God loves me.

But the truth is God doesn’t work that way.  And here is the proof.  Even after Thomas one of Jesus own chosen disciples gave the ‘ultimatum’ about proof and needing to put his finger in the holes and his hand in Jesus side, Jesus Christ waited eight days to ‘show up’.  Is the number of days important?  I don’t believe so, what is important is that Jesus Christ proof for Thomas had a more divine and profound application.

God’s application was for all of us gathered here today.  After Thomas had seen Jesus and touched His Hands and Side, Jesus tells Thomas the greatest reason for the Proof in the pudding.  Jesus says, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.

Jesus is talking to all of us gathered here April 12, 2015.  We who gather and believe are not just the spiritual descendants of Thomas, but with our belief, we are the proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is living in and through each and every one of us gathered here this morning.  We live in not only the fulfillment of the hope of the resurrection, but the sure proof shown to the disciples, including Thomas and one day each and every one of us.

We need to ask ourselves, do we show up here for worship to ‘check a box’?  Or do we show up to learn how to live the proof of the resurrection in our daily lives?  God is calling each of us to live the proof of the resurrection and be enabled to share the proof we believe with others.

Last week we gave the Salvation Bracelets not only as a gift, but a tool.  Some took the bracelet to be nice, others took one out of curiosity.  And still others took one to wear it and use it as the opportunity that God has given us to give the ‘proof of the resurrection’ as a witness for others.  For the salvation bracelet is a tool for each of us to use to declare the ‘proof’ of the resurrection.  For we did not see like the disciples or Thomas, but we are the spiritual descendants that Jesus speaks of who can believe.

Ed Setzer wrote an article entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Spike: Easter Attendance, Effective Follow Up, and Your Church”.  It makes some very poignant and valid points.  Specifically, the attendance of Easter will increase, just as ours did last week of 186.  But no matter how many people were here, coming, whether only on Easter or Christmas, doesn’t make one a Christian.  The proof of our being a Christian is our trusting in the mission and message of Jesus Christ and following up with those who came.  For God’s mission is clear, Jesus Christ came and died so we might live and have eternal life.  And this is what God offers all of mankind through Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection and the proof isn’t by our putting our fingers in Jesus Christ Side or Hands, but by believing.  For the proof is in God’s Word that we have heard today and believe of His love for all of mankind found in our resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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