DayBreaks for 4/04/18 – The Undoubting Doubter

Image result for doubting Thomas

DayBreaks for 4/04/18: The Undoubting Doubter

If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word “betray” or “betrayer” but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word “faith,” but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase “Sons of Thunder,” but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt or the label, “doubter”. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: “Doubting Thomas.”
You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John’s Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. (Interestingly, Thomas is said by tradition to have died a martyr’s death in India, having angered local religious authorities by his preaching of the gospel, they ran him through with a spear. How ironic that he would die in that manner after having placed his hand in the spear wound in Christ’s side!)

It wasn’t Peter who said …let us go so that we may die with him. It wasn’t John or Jesus’ half-brother James. Thomas’ words were courageous, yet we don’t remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas’ doubt we have the one place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. 

It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? How did Thomas move so quickly from the bold confessor to the doubting one? I think it may be that those who are the most hopeful fall hardest when those hopes appear shattered and belief comes hard – if at all. But look at his confession after seeing the risen Christ: My Lord, and my God. Not teacher. Not just Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter. Again, it wasn’t Peter, James or John who uttered those five huge words so laden with meaning.

Today, however, I want to ask you this question: who is Jesus to you? Is he your favorite moral and ethical teacher? Do you call him Lord? He is so much more than just Lord, as Thomas noted: he is God.

If you aren’t willing and ready to let him be both your Lord and God – with all that entails in terms of absolute, utter obedience to even the slightest thing he may ask or command – then we need to rethink our relationship with him. Too much is at stake to not think seriously about this!

PRAYER: Jesus, open our eyes to this profound truth that you are both Lord and God and there is no excuse to not follow every word that came out of your mouth and to commit ourselves unreservedly to humble obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 3/30/16 – Sticky Labels

DayBreaks for 3/30/16 – Sticky Labels

If I were to mention names of historical people to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind about that person, we’d probably come up with a wide range of words for the same people. For example: Genghis Kahn. Or, Benedict Arnold (to the Brits, he may be seen as some kind of hero but we Americans wouldn’t.)

When it comes to Biblical characters, the same is true. For example, if I were to mention Judas, many would write down the word “betray” but not everyone. Some might say “traitor” or “back-stabber”, or simply “apostle”. If I were to mention Peter, some would write down “faith,” but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase “Sons of Thunder,” but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is not much doubt about what folks would write, is there? It would be the word doubt or doubter. We have so closely associated that word with him that someone coined a phrase to describe him: “Doubting Thomas.”
Do you realize that the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas? It is only in John’s gospel that he appears as a distinct personality, but even then he only gets 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description. 

Yes, he doubted the resurrection and wanted some tangible proof. But when Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them, we quickly forget it what Thomas said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. It was a courageous statement, but we don’t remember him for that. We don’t call him “Courageous Thomas” but “doubting Thomas.” We fail to point out that in the story of Thomas’ doubt we have the one and only place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? Look at his confession, My Lord, and my God. Thomas didn’t just say he was a teacher/rabbi. He didn’t just call him “My Lord.” Nor did he say, “You are the Messiah.” He said “My God!” It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter.
Unfortunately history has remembered him for this scene where the resurrected Christ made an appearance to the disciples in a home in Jerusalem. We do him a great disservice, I fear. I’m glad he wanted proof. I’m glad someone touched him and felt that he had corporality – that he wasn’t just a disembodied spirit hovering ether-like in a room. There was a purpose in Thomas’ questioning and it was a purpose that helps build our faith, two millennia later.

Have people unfairly captured your “essence” in a single, derogatory word like “ugly”, “stupid”, “dummy”, “fat”, “loser”? I think you’re in very good company!

Have you been guilty of labeling others?

Let’s be careful not to label people unfairly, or better yet, let’s not label people at all. Labels stick – even when they’re grossly unfair.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Our Lord and our God, let us learn from the lesson of Thomas that words and labels stick for even thousands of years, often very unfairly. Let us show the honor and respect to all who are made in Your image. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 01/15/14 – Where Thomas Found Faith

DayBreaks for 01/15/14 – Where Thomas Found Faith

NOTE: I am traveling for work this week so I’ll be recycling some DayBreaks from previous years.  New DayBreaks will resume again on 1/20/2014.  Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, 1/7/2004:

John 20:26-28 (NLT)  – “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”  “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.”

I like Thomas.  I have a hunch that if the truth were told and I were in his place, I’d have said the same thing.  “I won’t believe unless I see and touch his hands and feet!”  Think about it.  What would you think if at lunch today a bunch of your friends told you that they saw Princess Diana in the lunchroom?  Wouldn’t your first thoughts be, “Yeah, sure.  If you saw anything, you maybe saw an impersonator or a look-alike, but you didn’t see Princess Diana.  She’s dead and gone.”  Even if I went and saw such a person in the lunchroom with my own eyes, I’d probably not believe it was her, either.

In the case of Jesus, Thomas had a way of telling whether this was an impostor or not.  He had the nail holes in the hands, feet and the spear wound in the side.  But that’s not really the point that I want to make.  Thomas had missed the first “meeting” of Jesus with the other apostles for some reason – we’re not told why he wasn’t there, just that he wasn’t part of that meeting.  In John 20, however, things had changed.  Thomas was gathered with the rest of the apostles, and it is there, in the midst of the fellowship of believers, that he was once again drawn into the fellowship of faith.

Jesus could have chosen to appear to Thomas in his garden, or at the corner fish market or in the synagogue.  But he didn’t.  He waited until Thomas came back to the fellowship that Thomas found faith.

How is your faith?  Is it weak because you’ve not been in the fellowship of believers?  Stop pretending that you don’t need church – that you don’t need others who share a common faith in Christ Jesus around you all the time!  We are told that we should gather together not only so that we can worship God, but so we can encourage one another in our faith.  Don’t even pretend that you don’t need encouragement – it would be the height of hypocrisy!  Everyone needs encouragement in the Christian walk!

Perhaps you’ve been putting off going to church.  Isn’t it time to get started?  Who knows?  Perhaps like Thomas, you’ll once again discover what you once believed in and you, too, will make the same wonderful discovery and confession all over again, “My Lord and my God!”

PRAYER: Lord, it is our pride that makes us think that we are strong enough to not need the fellowship of the saints and communal worship! Free us from the delusions and lies the enemy tells us that we don’t need one another and encouragement! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/19/12 – Must I Always Be?

DayBreaks for 04/19/12 – Must I Always Be

Must I always be...your Thomas?

 I found this poem and I thought it might bless you today.  There is freedom in being honest with Jesus about both the good and bad:

“Let me meet you on the mountain, Lord, Just once.

You wouldn’t have to burn a whole bush.

Just a few smoking branches

And I would surely be …your Moses.

 

“Let me meet you on the water, Lord, Just once.

It wouldn’t have to be on White Rock Lake.

Just on a puddle after the annual Dallas rain

And I would surely be…your Peter.

 

“Let me meet you on the road, Lord, Just once.

You wouldn’t have to blind me on North Central Expressway.

Just a few bright lights on the way to chapel

And I would surely be…your Paul.

 

“Let me meet you, Lord, Just once.

Anywhere. Anytime.

Just meeting you in the Word is so hard sometimes

Must I always be…your Thomas?” – Norman Shirk, April 10, 1981, KQ (Dallas Seminary)

PRAYER: Thank you for understanding our faith and doubt, failings and triumphs, our hopes and wishes versus the reality of our shortcomings!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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