Thomas: Doubting to Driven
I’m going to invite you to the Gospel of John. After something like that, no matter what we share at this point, it’s just going to be great. We’re going to be in the Gospel of John together, John 20. We’re at a section of scripture that’s pretty popular. It’s the doubting Thomas section of the Bible after the resurrection of Jesus. This is a pretty important place to, I think, examine our own spiritual journey and the way we represent the Lord in this world. I feel like Thomas gets a bad rap, so we’re going to end today by giving Thomas a new way of viewing. Okay? Thomas goes from being a doubter in this section of scripture, but when you study the life of Thomas beyond this moment, which I know we often dub him as Doubting Thomas, Thomas went on to do some incredible things.
He went from Doubting Thomas to Driven Thomas. Thomas was faithful in living for Christ after this moment. There’s certain things that happen within this passage of scripture that I think were essential for Thomas to go from this place of doubt, this incredible place where he’s driven for Jesus in this world to ultimately giving his life for Christ. And there’s some components of this section of scripture that I just want to focus on and ask the question, “Okay, if this is what Thomas’s life became, if it went from this transition of being such a doubter to being so faithfully driven for the Lord, what is it that was so essential to Thomas’s life that we can then discover in our own spiritual journey that would compel us to live outwardly in a world of adversity on fire for Christ?”
And so I always want to talk about this morning three components to our spiritual journey that I think are essential in this passage of scripture and things that I find that Thomas would have discovered through these verses that compelled him to live for Jesus in such a driven way. If you grab your notes this morning, point number one in your blank is this: it’s essential for us to find God’s peace. God’s peace. Now, rather than just simply saying peace, I think it’s important to talk about God’s piece because God is the only one that could truly deliver peace that is necessary for our soul, and you find this in John 20:19. “Now, it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were together due to the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be to you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side, and the disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”
So you remember what’s led up to this moment. Jesus told His disciples He’s going to die in the Upper Room. Jesus in John 13 and on. Jesus then led away. He’s crucified, killed. The ladies went to the empty tomb, reported that Jesus was resurrected. They haven’t physically seen the resurrection of Jesus yet among the 12 disciples, or the 11 disciples at this point. And so, the disciples are still concerned for their life. They’re in hiding. They’re worried, they’re paranoid. Now, you can imagine they’ve locked the doors to the room that they’re in. They’re kind of peeking through the windows every once in a while, wondering if the Roman authorities are going to come to them.
And so, you can feel, based on how John’s presenting this, the fear that might have overcome them. I don’t know about you, but when I think about this moment, I would not be as gracious as Jesus at my first appearance, I don’t think. Jesus comes walking through some walls. He’d had to because all the doors are locked, windows are shut. The guys are sitting in this room paranoid. I think about this moment, I say to myself, “What would I say? If this were me in this circumstance, I were Jesus, I was appearing before my friends again, what would be my first words?” I got to be honest, I probably wouldn’t start with the word peace. I would probably start more with the word boo. Something like that.
It would not go probably well for them. Someone may have died of a heart attack in those moments. But Jesus comes in and He says these words instead, “Peace be to you.” It’s a standard greeting even in the Middle East today. But this statement that Jesus gives more than just a standard greeting is profoundly personal. It’s a word that’s representative of God’s kingdom. And it’s a fulfillment of even Jesus’ own promises before His crucifixion. John 13, Jesus starts to share to His disciples that He’s about to die. And as turmoil builds within them and concern for their own wellbeing, the perpetual statement of Jesus, over and over, to His disciples leading up to His death: “Peace be unto you. Peace be unto you.” I mean, John 14 starts off, “Let not your heart be troubled.” John 16:20-22, Jesus tells them, “Your grief will be turned to joy. Peace.”
John 16:33, “Peace.” He promises again as a gift that God will give to His people. Listen to this, in John 14:27, He says, “Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” Before Jesus’ crucifixion, He promises to His disciples peace. Your grief will be turned to joy. Now, I find that very significant and important now in these moments. After His resurrection, post resurrection, Jesus then is fulfilling that promise of peace. He’s showing up and saying, “Look, guys, just as I promise you before all of this started to happen and leading to my crucifixion, I have been resurrected, and I want to remind you that my promises are still good. The things that I say are true. Peace unto you.”
Jesus promised this before His death, and now He is demonstrating to His disciples that it is true. Peace is a gift of the kingdom of God. When you think about the importance of peace… I recognize within our lives all of us desire, all of us crave. Recently I had a friend of mine whose home was robbed, and he is an individual that’s… I’ll say he’s more of a person of prominence in the area that he lives in. He’s always lived somewhat of a protected life concern for his family because of his position. Someone broke into his home and robbed some significant things. But his obsession has become the safety of his family, so much so that he is moving from his home to a new home in order to provide that comfort for his family. He has no rest in his soul until he feels like he can transition from where he currently is to a new place, because his desire is peace.
He wants that safety that peace brings about. But the reality for us in our lives when we seek peace, like none of us want to live day to day in danger. We may take risks at certain point in our lives, maybe some calculated risks, but ultimately, what the soul desires is peace. But no matter how far we might strive for peace in our lives, reality is that we don’t ultimately control things. And so, any peace that we might seek after in our own strength is merely temporary. But the Lord’s peace, the Lord’s peace is intended to be forever.
When Jesus comes delivering to the disciples, we can recognize that this type of peace that Jesus gives to us, it begins from a perspective of internal, but ultimately something that Jesus will deliver for His kingdom forever, both internally and external. What Jesus is saying by delivering this type of peace in this moment is that while the world may fall apart, what Jesus promises to us will always be delivered. No one can rob you of that. No one can take that type of security from you, that what you have in Jesus will last forever. And if your hope rests in that, then your soul can find peace. Ultimately, Jesus will get victory in everything, restoring all things and fulfilling His promises.
Peace is a strengthener of the soul. It’s hard to focus beyond you when you feel the turmoil within you. When life feels unsettling, when you don’t feel at rest, your soul craves that peace. Jesus is promising to His disciples, in order to recognize what we’re about to dive into in verse 21, that for us to really expand beyond us, we need to find peace within us so that no matter what happens in life, we know that what we have in Jesus will last, it will endure, it is secure because God has ultimate authority over everything. That’s what Jesus is showing to His disciples by this resurrection.
Jesus is saying, “I promised this to you in John 14. I promised this to you in John 16.” Which also happened to be the chapters on the Holy Spirit. Much of what Jesus promises us comes in the security of the Spirit. But this peace to us now, Jesus is saying, “And now I’m delivering to you that this promise can be true because I have been resurrected from the grave. And here I am again pronouncing to you. Peace.”
Peace is a mark of the kingdom of God. If we’re going to do anything great for the Lord, before we can think beyond us, we need the peace of God within us. Jesus came to deliver. Sin, brokenness of this world have created turmoil. It creates turmoil in our relationships to one another. It creates turmoil in our relationship with God. In fact, sin devastates our relationship with God, and Jesus comes to this world, and what does He deliver? He brings us peace, reconciliation, and our walk with God and ultimate hope in anything that He has promised for our wellbeing, peace. I think the first component that Thomas finds because of the promises of Jesus fulfilled is this peace, and peace brings security. In that security, we can think beyond us.
When your world’s falling apart, it’s hard to think beyond you. When you’re concerned about keeping the lights on or food in your belly, it’s hard to think beyond you. But when Jesus has secured you, the hope of peace renews you. It’s the great strengthener of the the soul. The second thing that God delivers for us is God’s renewing presence, God’s renewing presence. This gets into spiritual implications here. I don’t want to sound just this confusing, mystical statement by talking about God’s renewing presence, so let me do this. In verse 21, Jesus talks about something very pragmatic to do as the peace of God is established within our lives. It says in verse 21, “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be to you.'” And so when you have peace of God within you, you are able to then think further than just you. You can think beyond you.
So He says, “Peace beyond to you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” So Jesus is saying to us, “Look, I’ve come to this world for a purpose, for a mission. That mission was about rescuing your soul.” And just as He’s come to this world in order to rescue you being Savior, He then calls His people to then represent Him in this world. Just as I have gone on mission for your life, I’m sending my community, my church on mission into this world.
So here’s the couple of questions. How can I represent Jesus in this world? Or maybe we can ask in a more personal way. Who am I? Who am I to even be able to represent Jesus in this world? And how in the world can I do it? In verse 22, Jesus goes on a little further, and He starts to explain this to us, He says… And when He had said this, He breathed onto them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive the Holy Spirit.” Now, verse 22 and verse 23, I want you to know as we get ready to lean into these a bit that I have found that Christians have taken this verse, or at least people that claim to be Christian, and done some really weird and abusive things with it. These are some odd verses, verse 22 and verse 23, but also when you start to understand what Jesus is doing here, some very powerful verses that Jesus is using to paint a beautiful picture of what He’s calling us to as He commissions us into this world to represent Him.
I’ve seen Christians take these things, and verse 22 especially, and do some bizarre things. They take one verse and develop an entire theology out of this. Just as Jesus comes and breathes on people, then you come and just blow at people and they can receive the Spirit. I’ve seen some people do some weird things with this. This is not a prescriptive verse. This is not saying just as Jesus went around blowing on people, you go on blowing on people so that way they can receive the Spirit. That is not what this verse is saying at all. Jesus is painting a very powerful picture of understanding of how we can fulfill what He’s calling us to, in verse 21, once the peace of God has been established in your world.
God doesn’t create His church just so we can sit around on our hind ends and seen kumbaya with each other. God has created His church for a mission. We have a purpose behind why we gather together as His community, and it’s a rescue mission that we join with Him upon, and it’s a representation of what He has already been doing in this world by becoming flesh and reaching into our soul and saving our lives. Jesus has called us to do the same. Now, it’s pretty weird that the way that Jesus, at least at first glance, the way that Jesus wants to represent how are we to do this in this world is to show up and just breathe on people. A little bit weird. You think Jesus was just dead, and probably the last thing that you want is zombie breath on you, right? You’ve been dead for a few days. Jesus, brush your teeth. Now Jesus breathe. That would be maybe a more accurate thing to think about. But Jesus shows up, and having been dead for a few days, he now blows on the people, and they receive the Holy Spirit.
Why is Jesus doing this? Well, when you want to do something for the Lord or before you do something for the Lord, you want to know that you have the authority of God behind you, the power of God with you. When Jesus began His ministry in this world, there’s a particular miracle that took place at Jesus’ baptism. What’s interesting about the baptism of Jesus is it’s one of the few stories that you find in all four gospels. There’s only a few things that you find in all four gospels. You can find some of the stories in two or three of the gospels, but there are a few things that you find in all four gospels. One of them was the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. One of them is the resurrection of Jesus, and the third one is what takes place at Jesus’ baptism.
Jesus’ baptism, John tells us the important thing that happened. It wasn’t so much the baptism of Jesus, that is significant, it’s the anointing of Jesus for ministry, but what John the Baptist has told in the Gospel of John 1:33 to look for the Messiah when the Spirit descends up on him. That’s what John the Baptist is told about trying to figure out who this promised one will be, the anointed one, this Messiah. “When the Spirit descends up on Him,” that’s what he says to John, “that the one. That is the promised one that Israel’s been looking for.” The Spirit descends upon Him to show God’s hand, to carry out the mission that He has been called to in this world.
What Jesus is saying to you and to I is that same Spirit that came upon Jesus to do what the Father called Him to in this world. It’s now that same Spirit that dwells with you. Who am I to represent Jesus? And how in the world can I do it? What Jesus is saying is the reason that you can do that is the same Spirit that rested upon Him, is the same Spirit that God puts within you. And not only is Jesus painting this sort of picture for His church, Jesus is also painting a picture that takes you all the way back to the beginning of the Bible. In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve send… One of the things that recognizes in verse eight is it says this, it says, “Now, when they heard the sound of the Lord… ” After they ate of the fruit, they’re really running away from God at this point. But the reason they do it is they hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8, one of the things that it doesn’t fully capture for us here, you have to look at it in Hebrew to see it, but when it talks about the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day, that word cool is the word Ruach, which is the same word for the Holy Spirit. They heard the sound of the Lord by the presence of the Holy Spirit moving through the garden. And so, Adam and Eve realizing that they’ve sinned as they’ve run away from God, this word Ruach, it’s the same word in Genesis 1:2,where it says, “The Spirit of God hovers over the water as God’s creating the earth.” It’s the way that God has described Himself throughout scripture. Again, in John chapter 3:6, when Jesus is teaching us about the Holy Spirit, it says, “That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is the Spirit. Don’t be amazed that I said to you you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it’s coming from and where it is going. So is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.”
The Spirit of God has been compared to the idea of when both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. You don’t see the presence of God, but the presence of God is made known in the lives of people. It’s not something you tangibly look at with your eyes, but His impact can be felt within you. In Genesis 2, when He’s created mankind, what is saying, “Then the Lord formed the man from the dust, the ground, and He breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living person.” So when the Spirit of God comes into the people of God, we experience relationship with Him. When God created in the beginning, He created with the power of the Spirit, and the Spirit brought forth life. And it brought forth life in humankind.
When Jesus gathered is with His disciples and He says, “Peace be unto you, and I’m commissioning you. Just as I was commissioned to go into this world, I’m commissioning you into this world,” and you say, “Okay, how in the world am I going to represent God? And what’s going to happen to even make me capable of doing this?” His answer is, “The power of His presence made known in your life through the Holy Spirit.” When Jesus breathes this breath on the people, He’s saying, “Just as I made things new in the beginning, I am now remaking all things new within you.”
Jesus is remaking all things new by the power of His Spirit working within you. And so in John 20:22, that’s the picture Jesus is painting. All the way back from the beginning of creation. Then man sins, then man runs, then man hides from God. Man lives in the death of sin, but Jesus returns and makes all things new and breathes into us once again life. God’s renewing presence. And then He says in verse 23, “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them. And if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” Once again, this is one of those strange verses that people do some odd things with, as if to say, “Look, the only way you can truly to be forgiven of your sins is to confess your sins to a religious leader or something.”
That is not what this verse is saying at all. Luke 5:21 says, “No one forgives sins against God but God Himself. It kind of operates like this: if you do something to offend someone else today, and I hope that you don’t, I hope you live a successful, sinless life today, but if you do something to offend someone else, I can’t come to you on the behalf of that person and say, “You have been forgiven of that offense against that person.” That person has to forgive you. The same is true with God. If our offense is against God, it’s not a person that can come to you and say, “Look, I’m going to forgive you on behalf of God.” That’s not how that works. It’s only God Himself that can forgive, and Luke 5:21 says that no one can forgive sins against God lest he be God Himself.
So this verse is not saying, “Look, you have the power in this world to go and forgive sins against God on behalf of God.” That’s not what it’s saying, but it’s saying this: “Because of the pronouncements of the gospel that you can go into this world and declare God’s forgiveness to people because of what Jesus has done for them. It’s being this commissioned on behalf of the Lord to proclaim what Jesus has done for us that others can experience that forgive too, because of what Jesus has done for them. It’s a beautiful picture of what the Holy Spirit does in our lives.
There’s a tribe in Africa. They’re in the Central African Republic, it’s right in the middle of Africa. If you were to take your finger and stick your finger right in the heart of Africa, most likely you’re going to land right on the Central African Republic or one of the neighboring countries around it. And just west of that, there’s another country called Cameroon. Between those two countries, there is a people group that speak the Kari language. About 100,000 people speak the Kari language, which is the equivalent, I guess, of Lehi plus maybe Alpine or something like that. But about 100,000 people speak that language. There was a missionary group that went into that people group, and they decided to translate the Bible into their language so they could read about the Lord. And they found it very challenging to translate into that particular language. One word they found particularly difficult was the word Paraclete, which is the word for Holy Spirit.
They were trying to figure out a way how can they communicate the role and the power of this Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people to live for Him in this world. And one day, they noticed there was a group of porters, these African porters that were going into the bush, carrying bundles on their head. And out of the group that was carrying this bundle, they noticed there was one individual that didn’t carry a bundle. They assumed that it was the person in charge of the group. They went and they inquired, “Out of all these people carrying these bundles, why is there one not carrying anything?” They said to the missionaries, they said, “This porter is for those who all of a sudden lose their strength. That there’s anyone among us that becomes faint for the journey, unable to go on any further carrying this bundle, when they collapse from the fatigue, it’s this individual that comes alongside of them, that grabs the bundle in order to help lift them up and carry the burden.”
And suddenly, the missionaries realized they had a word for the Holy Spirit, because the Africans had a particular word for that specific porter that went on this journey. The word translated in English was a word that said it was one who fell down beside of you in your struggle. And that’s the Holy Spirit. There is the peace of God within us, and there is the presence of God’s Spirit that works through that, right? How am I able to do what God calls me to do? It’s not within our strength, but within His strength working within us. Jesus is saying, “I am commissioning you into this world. And, look, you are not on your own. Just as the Spirit was with me, receive the Spirit. As God made things new in the beginning, God is remaking all things new.” And you today, by the power of His resurrection, if you would go and represent Him in this world. And just as God forgives you as you pronounce the gospel of forgiveness into this world, God will forgive those who embrace what Jesus has done for them.
And third is this in your notes: an undeniable conviction. How do we live like Thomas, from one who doubts to one who makes a difference? One who doubts to one who is driven with such incredible conviction. Number one was God’s peace. Number two, God’s renewing presence. And number three, an undeniable conviction. Look in verse 24, “But Thomas, one of the 12, who was called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in my hands the imprint of the nails and put my finger into the place of the nails and put my hands into His side, I will not believe.'”
Look, I don’t fault Thomas for this stand. I mean, how many times in your life you’ve been walking around and seeing someone resurrected. This is not someone just simply resuscitated. We’re talking He was dead and He was resurrected. This takes a little bit more faith to believe in than other things in life, right? Jesus was dead. We know Jesus was dead. He was tortured, and he was speared and He was punctured. He was beaten. And if you’re telling me that that’s not true anymore, He’s no longer dead, I need to physically see Jesus in order to prove that. This is Thomas. He wants his faith solidified in something. Thomas is saying, “Look, there’s risk to this now. People went after Jesus, they could go after us. If I’m going to believe this, I need to know this is true.”
I don’t fault Thomas in his position. I’ve been thinking in my own journey to Christ, there was a time where in my soul I was looking for a deeper purpose in life. I had reasoned in my mind, I thought, “If I could just figure out if there is a God, then in figuring out there’s a God, then maybe I can figure out why I exist. And I can figure out why I exist, then I can figure out what I want to do with my life. But if your God’s real, then I’ll surrender to Him.” And he started to present to me a factual basis for believing in Jesus. And I began to recognize that there was more to this God than I had assumed. I just had looked at religious people in this world and thought, “Faith is just a dumb thing. People just blindly guess and hope in the end that they’re right.”
Looking at other religions, I found an easy way to just push them all away, but when I got to Jesus, I had a hard time looking at the things He was presenting to me and then turning around saying, “And I’m not going to follow Him.” In fact, I would say He gave me such a factual basis for which to rest my faith upon. I recognize that if I denied Jesus, it wasn’t because what I found about Jesus wasn’t true, it was a character issue with me. It was as if I was going to look at the facts of Jesus and who He was and say, “You know what? I realized historically that this is true, but selfishly, I don’t really care, because I want to make life about me.” Because in order for me to come to Jesus, I would have to deny me to embrace what He’s saying.
I came to this crossroads in my life where my character had to either say, “Look, I want to be true to what is true and demonstrate that my character would be willing to surrender to that, or I want to be selfish and live for me.” And I gave my life to Christ. I chose in those moments and looking at the evidence for the reality of Jesus and all that the Bible claims about Him and seeing a truth basis for it, and not just within scripture, even historically outside of scripture, the documents that talk about the significance Jesus and His impact on the world, the reality of His existence and the proclamation of His resurrection, and then I realize I cannot ignore what I have found, and I surrendered my life to Christ and pursued Him.
I find Thomas doing the same. “Look, disciples, if you’ve seen the resurrected Jesus, and this is really true, I just want to see that too. If Jesus has appeared here to you, I want Him to do the same for me.” And then verse 26, he goes on and says, “Eight days later, His disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. And Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be to you.’ And they said to Thomas, ‘Place your finger here and see my hands. And take your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in disbelief, but be a believer'”
I find Jesus doing the same thing for Thomas that He did for me. “Look, Thomas, you seriously want to look at the evidence? I’m here. Put your fingers here; embrace it, see it, believe it.” And then in verse 28, Thomas gives a statement, “He answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen me, have you now believed? Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.'” I love the story of Thomas. I relate to this very much so. Jesus takes maybe a callous and hard heart, and He turns it into a believing heart. God is… He’s a miracle worker in that way. He can take the most stubborn of people and transform them in such a way that they become some of the most committed followers of Him.
Thomas came to that place in the crossroads where he could deny the evidence that’s before him, but he chooses to embrace it. And Jesus gives him reasonable purposes for which to put his faith in Christ. I think as a church we attempt to do this here. When we talk about Jesus, we don’t just simply want to say, “And just believe because we say believe.” But we encourage question, ask, learn, grow. I mean, God gave you a mind, and your mind was designed by Him for a purpose. Faith isn’t something that’s simply to be ignorant, but God gave you a [inaudible 00:33:11] for which to put that faith in. But at the end of the day, no one can make you believe. That’s between you and the Lord.
No one can make it grip your heart. But God’s desire, and I think the reason that John puts this in this passage of scripture, is that we would even slow down in our own lives to examine the significance of Jesus and, therefore, embrace Him. In verse 29, Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have now believed.” Thomas’ faith, I don’t think, is necessarily blemished because of his need for sight. I would rather say it’s rather more privileged because he had the opportunity to do that. I know some of us will look at a verse like this and say, “Well, yeah, if Jesus would show up and let me put my finger in one of the holes in His hands or His feet or in His side, of course I would believe, I mean, if I were given that opportunity like Thomas. Because I want to remind you, I think out of all generations, we live in one of the most privileged time periods in which to put your faith in Christ.
You think historically people have not had all of the Bible together like this, archeologically, prophetically, being able to look at all of the Word of God and the evidence of history and what it communicates to us about the Lord. We live in one of the most privileged generations to understand, really, what God’s Word communicates to us. We’ve seen all of the gospel story unfolding. You can look at the evidence both within scripture and outside of scripture over the significance of who Jesus should be in our world, and then have opportunity to surrender to it if you would just… or if we would just take it seriously.
Thomas, yeah, he had an opportunity here, and it was a privileged place to be. So are we. We’re in a privileged place of an opportunity to know the Word of God. And there are Christians, even around the world today, that just crave to have a copy of the Bible. I left a place just yesterday. I know a church that gathers, and one of the common questions they ask me is, “Can you just bring me a copy of the Bible?” We have an opportunity to know this God in a personal way. When I think about this story, I do feel bad for Thomas because we usually dub him as the doubter. But Thomas in verse 28, the greatest doubter in the resurrection, gives the most powerful confession on who Jesus is. “My Lord and my God.”
So let me just end with the ripple effect of Thomas’s life, right? He finds the peace of God through the power of God’s Spirit, through the commissioning of living for the Lord in this world, and he has this undeniable conviction that, truthfully, he was a doubter in this passage but he becomes one that is so driven for the Lord that the ripple of his impact is still known today. I’ll give you a little example. As a church, we have supported over the years this couple, Joseph and Sandri Thomas. Joseph and Sandri have very powerful stories on what God has done in their lives, rescuing them as orphans in a home run by a man named M. A. Thomas. M. A. Thomas, he’s since passed, I think, in the last 10 or 15 years, but M. A. had a dream in India. He wanted to rescue a million orphans and train them up in the Word of God and send them back out to make a difference in his country. He never hit the dream of having a million orphans, but he had thousands that he served.
Joseph’s story in particular is a very heart-gripping story of how the Lord intervened in his life. He’s better at telling than me, but let me just give you a quick synopsis. When Joseph was little, he was on a walk with his mother, and she stopped as they were journeying together going through a town. She stopped on a pair of stairs, and she and her son were sitting together and she told her son, “I’m going to run real quick, I’m going to buy you some chocolate, and I’ll be right back.” And he sat on those steps, and his mom took off. He saw her as she went away off into the distance, and he sat there and he waited, and he waited, and he waited, and she never came back with the chocolate.
But little did he realize that on the steps that he was sitting was the home of the orphanage where M. A. Thomas served. As the day wore on and as Joseph sat there waiting for his mom to bring that piece of chocolate, he began to realize his mom wasn’t coming back, and someone from the orphanage came down to him and brought him in. They trained him up. They loved on him. They taught him about the Lord, and they sent him back out to serve the Lord in India. Joseph still tells you today he has no idea where his mother is, and he’s still waiting on her to bring back that piece of chocolate. But today, he and his wife serve in an orphanage with over 200 girls that are in situations where they’re either orphaned or functionally orphan, meaning families can’t really care for them, but they are raising them up to make a difference in the world.
But here’s how this all ties to Thomas. Joseph and Sandri’s last name is Thomas, which is not a very Hindi word if you think about it. It’s not a common phrase that you would expect to hear in India until you realize that the reason they carry the name of Thomas as his last name is because that’s where Jesus’ disciple went. Thomas, who was doubting, put his faith in Christ and had an undeniable conviction over Jesus in such a way that Thomas traveled from Israel to the East. And he went down the Western side of India, along the coast, and he started to come up to the Eastern side. And eventually where I highlighted there in yellow, Mylapore, he was killed as a martyr there.
Thomas went on to give his life for Jesus. In fact, it was December 21st, 72 A.D. that Thomas died. So we’re just a few days away from that if you want to take a moment to recognize the important of Thomas’ life. But I say all this to say that the effects of Thomas in India are still made known today, to the point that when someone in India becomes a Christian it’s customary that they’ll take a Christian name, and they will cherish that name. And so, when you hear about Joseph and Sandri, their last name is Thomas because they cherish how the gospel came into their country through one who was willing to give their life for Jesus.
Thomas’ name is revered in India because of what he represents to those people. And guys, when I think about where Thomas was to who Thomas became, I realize that there’s nothing unique about him that could not be emulated within our own life. Because what compelled Thomas to do what he did was not found really within Thomas, it was found within the Lord. How do we live that kind of life? One, God’s peace. It’s hard to think beyond you when there’s turmoil within you, but what you have in Jesus can never be taken away. It’s His peace. Number two, it comes through His renewing presence by the power of the Spirit. That same life that rested upon Christ to do the work that He was called to is the life that God gives by His Spirit within you. And number three is this undeniable conviction, this compelling conviction of the truthfulness of who Christ is, that when you see the reality of what Jesus has done for you, and that Jesus wants to proclaim this to the world. Thomas isn’t just one that will ever exist, but Thomas can be one of many as you surrender your life to Christ.
This message has been brought to you by Alpine Bible Church in Lehi, Utah. If you’d like more information, please visit us online at alpinebible.com.