Way Truth Life Part 6: Back To Life
On Sunday 16th April at our morning service, we finished our series 'Way Truth Life' with the topic 'Back To Life'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
At the start of our service we watched a Worshiphouse media clip called 'He Is Still Risen'. You can watch that by clicking here.
As we reach the final part of our “Way, Truth, Life” series on Easter Sunday, I have a confession to make. To be frank, I’m rather sceptical about the Easter bunny…
In fact, not only do I not believe in the Easter bunny, I’m concerned that it’s a bit pagan, that people have set him up as a mini-god. Perhaps you think I’m being OTT but there’s a story in the bible about the people of Israel making a golden calf (Exodus 32) and in the shops at Easter what do find but row upon row of golden bunnies – as if “he” is the reason for the season!
Now some people might say well, Jesus is just that same – that he’s just a fairytale figure and the Easter story is made up.
Most accept there was such a man as Jesus and that he was crucified. Even the so-called “New Atheists” accept that much. But that a man died and came back to life? We live in a sceptical age. We mistrust what we are told, especially politicians, salespeople, “special” offers etc.
We want proof, we want evidence – and even then we might not believe it!
Well, we can take some comfort that even Jesus’s first followers needed evidence. In the case of the disciple Thomas, he had a very high standard of evidence indeed – that he needed not only to see the risen Jesus but to touch the wounds in His hands and His side! We can read about this in John’s account of Jesus’s life by clicking here.
Thomas hadn’t seen Jesus when the others had, and he was very sceptical. How was he feeling for the week between the others telling him about Jesus’ resurrection and seeing him for himself? The others were excited, but he was, in a way, separated and excluded. Then he saw Jesus and he also believed….
But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
What do you believe? Whom do you believe?
If you believe the Easter story, if you believe Jesus really did die and was resurrected then you too can have new life! A new life eternally but a new life now as well – don’t miss this!
When we die, God offers us a place with Him in heaven eternally. He brings us back to life in that sense. But He also offers us death to our old life now, our old sinful nature when we didn’t believe, and a bringing back to life with Him now. That’s what Baptism signifies – a death and a resurrection. Death to the things that are not of God and a new life, a rebirth, with Him as our recognised Sovereign Lord.
God wants to kill off the doubt in us. God wants to kill off the things that are not of him in us. When God takes us through trials, He’s after killing things off and bringing new life. Like the gardener pruning back the dead and fruitless branches we heard about last week.
God prunes us and shapes us to kill off the things that need killing off, so that we might flourish and have new life and have it in abundance. Are you still clinging to the old life? The old doubts? The old shame?
Don’t be afraid. See how mercifully Jesus dealt with Thomas. No anger, no frustration, no awkwardness – but straight to the point. See my hands, put your finger in, your hand in the wound… He wanted Thomas to believe and He wants you to believe.
If we look back at John’s account, we can see how Jesus was absolutely fair to Thomas – treating him just as He did the others. He showed them the wounds too – did he see their doubt? I think He did!
And here in these verses we have a compelling reminder, a huge clue, that the story is a true one. That Jesus really did die and was resurrected. Why? Because look how Jesus found them, these people who had been with Him for 3 years. He finds them hiding in a locked room, they were so afraid!
They’d seen Him die. They were in fear for their own lives. What could possibly so embolden these terrified men, including Peter, who had denied even knowing Jesus three times that they started the very church – the church of Jesus Christ – that now has billions of followers and which we’re a part of today. What could transform them so completely from a frightened bunch of guys cowering in a room, into the seeds that flourished so incredibly that today millions of people are celebrating the day of Jesus’s resurrection, just as we are? How could that be? What could possibly have happened? What could they have witnessed?
Only the resurrected Jesus, and Him there present breathing the Holy Spirit upon them.
Let’s not be afraid – let’s just believe and Jesus said “blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
The Easter story – that a man called Jesus was crucified and died and rose again – is true. Unlike the disciples we didn’t see like they did the wounds in his hands and His side. Blessed are those who believe without seeing. What we do see however, are lives transformed. We see a church that started with this man Jesus now numbering billions. What’s your explanation? What do you believe?
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Have you ever considered the historical evidence about Jesus’s death and resurrection?
2. What do you make of Thomas’s attitude towards the proof he needed?
3. What are some of the things that provide evidence to you personally about the truth of the Easter story?
4. Can you say with conviction that you believe in Jesus and give reasons why?
5. What might God want to kill off in you, that is not of Him? Are you praying about this and inviting change?
6. Can you think of things that have happened in your own life which may be examples of God pruning and shaping you – killing off the old and bringing new life?