It’s almost a year since the EU referendum took place. Many thought 23 June 2016 was one of the most significant days in recent British history. As the results came through, many people said, ‘This is the good news we’ve been waiting for!’ And as the pound dropped many others said, ‘I’m emigrating!’
And dare I say, it seemed many Christians lost perspective and forgot that God is sovereign and whichever way you voted, he didn’t have to get a majority vote!
Now, I’m not saying that the EU issue isn’t important but compared to the Easter account presented in the gospels, it seems… lifeless. And that’s because it is. There is no life in it!
Do you know the first words of Jesus in John’s gospel?
Jesus says in John 1:38, ‘What are you seeking?’ or ‘What is it you are looking for?’
Ever since Adam and Eve rejected God and sinned in the Garden we’ve been fighting for a way back to paradise. So we look for ways to be happier and more fulfilled, usually without God. We reject God by making other things and other people our ultimate goal. So much of that EU talk was about how can we prosper, how can we get paradise on earth, what is best for me and my wallet! But no matter how good the Brexit negotiations, no matter how good the political harmony is, it’s not paradise and never will be. Like an arrow falling short of the target, we always fall short of reaching paradise on earth.
So Jesus says, ‘What are you seeking?’
I don’t know if you have been following the Easter story or not. But if you have, you would see along with the disciples the man who healed hundreds, who fed thousands; you’d see a man crying and betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane. As the story reaches its climax, see them stand by and watch while this man they have been following for three years is stripped, beaten, punched, whipped and hanged on a cross, as people did their worst to Him. Then Jesus cried out, ‘It is finished,’ breathed his last and indeed it looked as though it was the end.
Or so it seemed!
We’re told in all four gospel accounts that actually Jesus rose from the dead three days later! In fact the whole Bible is there to convince you that Jesus lived the perfect life, died the death we deserve and rose again to show us he’s conquered sin! Now bear in mind, if this is true, it is an absolute game changer for us!
What are you seeking?
Whether you like it or not, you are seeking something or someone. Something to make life easier? Someone to make life happier? And let’s be honest, that thing you are seeking is most probably the thing you are serving too. Let me put it another way. What does your bank statement say you worship? What do you spend most money on? Because whether it is aesthetics, dietetics, cosmetics or athletics, as Bob Dylan says in his song, ‘You’re gonna have to serve somebody’. So as you’re reading this sentence, you are serving, you are worshipping something or somebody. Ask yourself what it is. And ask yourself, how does the thing you are serving deal with answers of life and death.
And right now you think you’ve called my bluff and I’m now going to try and convince you about this man named Jesus who lived around 2,000 years ago and said he was God! Well, actually no! I’m not trying to convince you. That’s not my job because I don’t have that power! But God does and God’s Word does!
Doubt or unbelief?
If you look with me towards the end of John’s biography of Jesus, in chapter 20 we see the risen Jesus talking with his disciples. But you might be thinking, ‘It’s alright for these disciples, they got to see Jesus, they got to witness these things. If I had that kind of proof, I would believe too!’
Well, Thomas wasn’t actually with the disciples when Jesus turned up. His mates try and convince him that Jesus is back from the dead, but Thomas is having none of it. He says, ‘Unless I see Jesus… I will never believe.’ Despite our presumptions about this passage, that is pure unbelief isn’t it? ‘Unless I see… I will never believe.’ That doesn’t sound like doubt. There is no doubt, no hesitation there. That is definite unbelief. Maybe you’re the same.
However, Thomas is completely knocked off his feet when this proof comes. Jesus appears and stands in front of him. Jesus confronts Thomas and his unbelief. Thomas sees the scars of Jesus, he sees the war wounds of Jesus’ battle with sin. The scars which show that Jesus won the battle.
Thomas has to respond. He can either ignore the proof that is standing in front of him or now admit his life has changed forever! What does he do? What else could he do?
Thomas cries out, ‘My Lord and my God!’
This is not a cowardly response to Jesus. He sees that Jesus has come to our aid and fought for us the only fight that matters, the fight against sin. It means that Jesus did rise from the dead. Jesus not only conquered death but he also conquered sin – your sin, my sin, Thomas’ sin. Now in gratitude and praise, Thomas cries out ‘My LORD and my God.’
And it’s not simply, ‘The LORD’ but ‘my LORD’… It is not, ‘God’ but ‘my God.’
It’s personal. Thomas no longer doubts. He’s believing. Thomas is no longer seeking. He’s found!
It’s personal. The thing is, is it personal for you?
Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘It’s alright for Thomas. He got to see Jesus. What about me?’ That’s precisely why Jesus answers with, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’
We are blessed when we don’t see and yet believe. How can that be true? The next verses tell us, ‘Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.’
We have these things so we may believe. Everything! Everything we need to believe is written here! It’s full, it’s comprehensive, it’s complete!
This Easter, this same risen, back from the dead Jesus stands in front of you and demands an answer. Jesus stood in front of Thomas and his unbelief. Now he stands in front of you and your atheism or lack of belief. As he stands there, ask yourself today, ‘What am I seeking?’ Because actually everything you’ve been hoping for is found in Jesus and in him alone.
‘These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ John 20:31