You must endure darkness before experiencing the dawn. Early Sunday morning, while still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the entrance. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. They stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there ... and they believed. (John 20) But one of the disciples, Thomas refused to believe it.

Anyone could be a Doubting Thomas ... even you. Imagine being holed up inside a house, fearful, confused and desperately seeking answers. What happened? Your leader, spiritual guide and closest friend was brutally tortured and executed. The word out on the street is about a mob searching for you and your friends. While fearfully huddling together, you have to wonder ... who will be murdered next?

Eleven frightened disciples followed Jesus faithfully until ... the Cross. Could there be a Kingdom if the king was dead? Could there be miracles with the miracle worker murdered? Could you offer sight to the blind, healing to the sick or hope for the poor if the one who made the promises ... ceased to exist?

Now Mary Magdalene and the other Mary come running from the tomb to claim they saw Him ... alive!

"No way!" you say. "I heard his final words and saw the spear thrust into his body. I saw Jesus die! I won't believe anything unless I see the nail wounds and place my hand into the wound on his side!"

Suddenly Jesus is standing there among us! "Peace be with you," he said. As he spoke, he held out his hands and we saw his wounded side. Most of us were filled with joy when we saw our Lord but not you. Then Jesus walks over and says to you: "Thomas, put your finger here in my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!" (John 20:20-27)

What else can you say? "My Lord and my God! Please forgive me for doubting but I am so afraid!"

Jesus replies: "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway." Wow! Jesus is alive! He's reassuring everyone in the room, just like the old days ... only different. Something has changed. You can feel it. Then he said, "When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true." Then he opened our minds to understand the Scripture. (Luke 26:44-45)

Finally, you realize that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection had a purpose and was predicted by Scripture. After years of confusion while sitting at Christ's feet, the teaching becomes clear. Then Jesus said: "With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘there is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.' You are witnesses ..." (Luke 26:47-48)

  1. You've just experienced the miracle of knowing Christ is alive! You are a witness!
  2. You are to take Christ's message of forgiveness to everyone starting here in our community.
  3. You can share the message with confidence because we are Christ's living witnesses.

But what about those who are waiting outside? What if others do not believe us? You are so afraid! Will they crucify you just like they did to Jesus? It is one thing to merely believe ... it's quite another to face your fear. Then Jesus said: "And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven." (Luke 26:49)

There is the final answer! Did you catch it? God understands your fear and is sending help ...

  1. Jesus is alive and you just witnessed it ... now believe!
  2. You are to extend Christ's message of faith and hope to others.
  3. Do not be afraid for the Holy Spirit will fill you with power from heaven!

Are you a Doubting Thomas? Are you holed-up, fearful, confused and desperately looking for answers and courage? Hear the Good News! Christ was dead! Christ is risen! Christ will come again! Easter is the promise that you will be filled with the power of God's Holy Spirit so do not be afraid! Confidently open your doors and take Christ's message of forgiveness and hope to all the nations. Christ is risen!