Family Bible Study lesson for July 29: Believing in the Risen Lord
July 6 2001 by Catherine Painter , John 20:19-31

Family Bible Study lesson for July 29: Believing in the Risen Lord | Friday, July 6, 2001

Friday, July 6, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for July 29: Believing in the Risen Lord

By Catherine Painter John 20:19-31 On Susie's first trip to the zoo, she stared at the elephant - its bulk, flapping ears, elongated nose, and said, quite definitely, "I don't believe it." Some believe first, then they seek understanding. The rest of us pray, "Lord, help me to understand - I want to believe!" During our first pastorate, I woke one night in feverish restlessness and screamed a muted question to my sleeping husband: "How can you sleep? I don't know if there's a God!"

How long had I plucked that spiritual daisy: "He saved me; He saved me not?" I experienced Christ at age 19. When did doubt enter? Jack's favorite hymn was Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine. Was he arrogant to claim certainty? As a child, I heard my father end his prayers: "Save us in heaven for Jesus' sake." How could I know I was saved then, until I died?

Silently, I hurled my anguish at God. "Lord, if You're real, do something to let me know." The inaudible answer was direct: "I already have - did you not see the cross?" I pictured a game board. God had moved; now it was my turn.

Flaunting one's doubts is fashionable today, but the demand then was for unquestioned belief. I kept my wretchedness secret. From my limited knowledge of scripture, Romans 10:17 surfaced: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (KJV).

Seeing (John 20:19-23) While fearful disciples huddled behind locked doors, Jesus stood in their midst. How like Him to say, "Peace be with you" - not "Shame on you for deserting me." He displayed His wounds, knowing their faith was limited to their senses, as mine was the night I cried, "Lord, do something!" My faith was no greater than those who demanded, "What miraculous sign will you give that we may see it and believe You" (John 6:30)?

Our sense knowledge says, "Seeing is believing," but faith knowledge says, "Believing will become seeing." Paul admonished, "After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort" (Gal. 3:3)?

Doubting (John 20:24-25) On the evening of the day that changed the world, "Thomas . . . was not . . . with the disciples." The crucifixion had trampled his hopes, placing a bloody period at the end of his dreams. He behaved like the wellbred animal, which when injured, creeps away to suffer alone. We can know Christ in solitude, but assurance comes most easily in the presence of other believers.

These verses exude all Thomas missed by not being present. He didn't see the Lord and missed assurance of life after death. He missed the peace so needed and the joy the others experienced, along with the Holy Spirit, who qualified them for their mission.

Thomas doubted no more than the other disciples. They disbelieved Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:11) and the other women (Luke 24:911). Even after Jesus appeared and invited the disciples to "touch me and see ..." Luke says "they still did not believe"(Luke 24:37-41).

Thomas loved Jesus. When the others said, "The Jews are seeking to stone you and you are going to Jerusalem again?" Thomas responded, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:8,16, KJV).

When he misunderstood, he was honest: "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way" (John 14:5, KJV). His mind was practical, needing a road map.

Some come to faith with one enthusiastic leap. The rest grope our way, but all of us eventually place our spiritual fingers into His wounds and cry, "My Lord and my God." Then we find it was not an explanation we needed - only a presence.

Tennyson said, "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." We can be grateful to Thomas; otherwise, we might agree with Renan, the French skeptic, who said, "We owe the resurrection to Mary Magdalene, a highly emotional woman." Because of Thomas, we can side with Crysostom, who said, "Thomas doubted that we might have faith."

Believing (John 20:26-31) God blames no one for seeking assurance and uses numerous ways to evoke a faith response from us. Each is different and valid. Interestingly, once Thomas saw the Lord, he no longer needed to touch Jesus' wounds. Moving from sense knowledge to faith, he confessed, and Jesus responded, "... blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (v. 29).

I saw a bumper sticker the other night that read, "God said it; I believe it; that settles it." I smiled, mentally changing it to, "God said it; that settles it." He doesn't wait nervously for us to believe.

On my way home, with the stars twinkling the rhythm, I sang: "Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story ..."

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7/6/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , John 20:19-31 | with 0 comments
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