Written Sermons & Bible Studies

The Story of Doubting Thomas

Last Sunday, we rejoiced in the resurrection of our Lord. We celebrated His victory over death and the promise of eternal life for all who believe. We were thankful for how Jesus, after His resurrection, made Himself known to His disciples. He met them in their doubt and fear. He offered his followers peace and understanding. Jesus, in His infinite grace, recognized the deep needs of His followers. This week we will explore how Jesus leads Doubting Thomas to faith. Jesus Christ recognized Thomas’s need, and He gave Thomas exactly what he needed to believe.

From this example, we can understand the power of recognition within our own community. Just as Jesus saw and understood the individual needs of His disciples, we are called to truly notice each other—not with superficial praise, but with genuine acknowledgment of each person’s presence and contribution.

Jesus acknowledged a doubting heart and transformed uncertainty into faith. The story of Thomas reveals a profound truth: being noticed, seen, and acknowledged can be a deeply spiritual experience, because it reflects the value and dignity God sees in each of us.

When we see another person, truly see them, we give them a sense of belonging and self-worth.
Let’s read the story of Doubting Thomas.

John 20:24-29

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “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.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In the story of Doubting Thomas, Jesus comes to the house where the disciples have gathered. They recognize him and they believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Thomas wasn’t with them at the time. When they see Thomas, they tell him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas doesn’t believe them and demands proof. A week later, the disciples gather in the same house, Thomas too, and they lock the door. Suddenly, they are aware that Jesus is standing with them. He greets them, “Peace be with you.” Then he turns to Thomas and gives him the proof that he needs. “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”  

Jesus could have praised the disciples for believing him and criticized Thomas for his lack of belief. But Jesusdidn’t rebuke Thomas. Jesus offers Thomas the evidence he needs without chastising him. Jesus provides the evidence Thomas needs to understand, rather than a harsh word or a look of disapproval. Following Jesus’ example, we can recognize someone’s need and provide it. We can recognize someone’s contribution and thank them for it. To be recognized is a powerful gift and one that Jesus Christ gives so strongly.

We call Thomas, Doubting Thomas. Notice the passage simply calls him Thomas. How often in our lives do we add that adjective that judges another? Jesus simply gives Thomas the evidence he needs.
When we read Lamentations during Lent, we heard the people of Judah cry for God’s recognition after Jerusalem was destroyed by a Babylonian invasion. Their elders were no longer at the city gate providing wisdom to the people. They no longer had their elders’ guidance pointing them to God and passing the faith to the next generation. There was only confusion, grief, and despair.

Lamentations 5:19-22

You, Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures from generation to generation.
20 Why do you always forget us?
Why do you forsake us so long?
21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old
22 unless you have utterly rejected us
and are angry with us beyond measure.

In their despair, the people cry out, “Lord notice us.”

As humans, we have a deep desire to be seen by God in our suffering. We want an end to our suffering. We want relief, but even more than that, we want to be noticed. We want an acknowledgment of our existence and what we’re going through. Church, when we genuinely notice each other and listen to each other’s struggles, joys and sorrows, we give people the gift Jesus gave Thomas.

I have provided pastoral care and spiritual guidance to many people over the years. I have noticed the power of being fully present with them, hearing their story and acknowledging their situation. Often, I don’t need to speak or share wisdom or instruction. I just need to be there and listen, for them to know I care. If people feel seen and supported, they are better able to work through their challenges themselves and find healing.

One powerful way to notice people is to say, “thank you.”  Or “you really helped me.” Genuine appreciation fosters a loving community. Be careful saying things like “you did a good job” because that can feel like you are sitting in judgment. You can say “I appreciate what you did” instead. A simple and heartfelt “thank you” shows that you appreciate a person’s contribution to your life.

The last 6 months at our food pantry have been different for me. Before, I was moving bags and boxes that were heavy all day long. I would go home sore and wake up sore for two days. Now, I can still lift some, but more times than not, a teenager is grabbing a pallet to move, or the 40 lb. box of milk. They are running around, moving faster than me and picking up a large amount of work.

I should be happy, but it stings to see my once vital work becoming less important. Yet I wake up without a sore back. I am thankful for how our teenagers have helped to grow the Food Pantry and how they have helped my body.

The truth is my life has changed. I am in a different stage of life. I don’t need to create an identity; I know who I am. I don’t need to accumulate anything; I need to get rid of stuff. I cannot achieve more through the force of my will. My life has changed; my life now relies on whatever wisdom I have gained in my life. I continue to seek wisdom and deeper meanings. Some of my wisdom comes by being aware of my vulnerabilities. I feel called to share the wisdom of my experience, but I can’t push my wisdom on others. It is more important to see people and love them and cheer on their growth and success. Any wisdom I have to share will come out when wanted or needed.

At the Food Pantry, my encouragement and my presence mean so much more than my back. As the students gain their strength and vitality, I recognize the waning of my physical strength. Yet my hope is there is growing value for my wisdom. My role is recognition and support of our young Christians.
For us seniors, it can feel like it is time to walk away from the food pantry. It’s not!  Our senior years may be the most significant of our life. Our physical capabilities may wane, but our spiritual strength and wisdom can grow in importance to our community. Influencing our young people through encouragement and being the “elders at the gate who show them God” may be the greatest call on your life. Sure, do what you can with meaningful physical effort. But more importantly, pray, pray, pray. You can pray actively for people in line or the volunteers in the gym or just sit and pray quietly for them. Seniors, pray for the food pantry operations, write notes of encouragement, or notice the younger members. Seniors impart a spiritual legacy. Find ways to foster a sense of continuity and shared purpose across generations.
For all of us here, young and old, the gift of “seeing” another person cannot be more strongly encouraged. It can make a critical difference in someone’s life to be seen. It can also harm and discourage someone when they are not seen.

Recently, I had an experience where I felt unseen. I was in a group that I considered my peers, but they made judgments about me without trying to get to know me. When you expect to be seen and are not, you feel rejected, and it makes you want to walk away.

Church, whether it is Sunday morning or our food pantry, Church is an experience where people expect to be seen. This is especially true for a small closely knit church like ours. We are followers of Jesus Christ, and people expect us to see them as Jesus does.

Last Sunday, we immersed ourselves in the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord, celebrating Jesus’ triumph over death and the dawn of eternal life for all who believe. We were humbled by Jesus. In His first moments risen, He chose to see and recognize Mary Magdalene and the women at the tomb. At a time when women were overlooked by society, they received from Jesus a profound acknowledgment of their worth and presence.

Jesus’ encounters with his disciples post-Resurrection teach us lessons about the power of being seen. He did not just observe; He truly saw their needs, doubts, and faith. He met each person right where they were, offering peace, belief, and understanding.

This week, we explored Thomas’s journey from doubt to faith. Jesus doesn’t just greet Thomas and observe Thomas’s doubt. Jesus went into his faith struggle. To truly see another person, to acknowledge their struggles and contributions, is to reflect the grace of God. It is a reminder that we, too, are seen, known, and loved by a God who calls us by name.

Scripture tells us that we need to be a church committed to being a community where everyone feels seen. Where the quiet contributions, the silent struggles, and the unspoken needs are not just noticed but validated and met with love and support. Can we be a place that offers encouragement, listens without judgment, and extends a hand without criticism. Like Jesus with Thomas, let us understand what people’s needs are and meet them with compassion.

We’ve learned from Lamentations about the deep yearning in the human heart to be seen by God, especially in suffering. We are the temple of God, when we see another, they often feel seen by us and by God.
For those of us on Medicare, it isn’t time to withdraw. It is time to live a life of significance. Your presence matters. It is a time when being seen is less important. It is a season when we can become seers.

Let’s dedicate ourselves to creating an environment where the young feel empowered, the elders honored, and every contribution valued. Let us see each other not through worldly expectations but through the eyes of Christ—fully seen, valued, and loved.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

In the light of Your resurrection, we find our true worth. You have shown us through Your Son, Jesus Christ, that each of us is seen, known, and deeply valued. As You have recognized us, help us to recognize one another, not for our achievements, but for our inherent worth as Your beloved children.

Grant us the grace to see beyond roles and tasks, to the hearts and souls of those around us. Teach us to acknowledge each other with the kindness and understanding that Jesus showed to His disciples, to Mary Magdalene, and to Thomas. May our community reflect Your love, where everyone feels seen and valued.

Lord, may our eyes be open to the quiet contributions, the silent struggles, and the unspoken needs among us. Strengthen our communal bonds with unity and grace.

We thank You for your grace and for the gift of being seen by You. May we extend this gift to others. Through our words and actions, may we reflect the love that first saw and loved us. Under the grace of the resurrected Christ, let us live out the truth that in the Kingdom of God, we are all seen, all valued, and forever loved.

Amen.

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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