The story of Thomas and four egg shattering truths (an all age talk)
John 20:19-31 I'd like to look today at the story of a man called Thomas. And I'd like to illustrate this with an egg (I'm wary of using eggs because when I did an assembly at St James school I exploded an egg onto the school stage curtain) Did you know - you can't break an egg by pressing down on both poles? The shell is very hard Thomas had become hard: He refused to believe the others when they told him that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Why? He felt that it was impossible; he didn't want to be let down; he didn't want them to say 'April Fool'. I watched the last ever Goodies (it had to be because it's topic was the end of the world.) Well, the end has come. They're watching the clock click down to midnight when they've been told the world will explode. It hits midnight and nothing happens. They start to laugh with relief - it was all a con. But one of the Goodies is in hysterics in the corner. When he stops laughing he says, 'I fooled you all. I put the clock forward 5 minutes!' Thomas, I think, refused to believe - not because he didn't care, but because he did care. He wanted to protect himself. Maybe there had been too many disappointments and failures. He really had thought that Jesus was the one who would establish his kingdom - but it just seemed impossible now. Or maybe he refused to believe because he felt really guilty. He too had run away.
Whatever, he had become incredibly hard: 'I will not believe', he says. The problem is that if there was a baby chick in this egg - and this egg remains like this, it may look nice, but the chick will die. The hard shell needs to be broken open before it can live. So could you break this egg? Actually, Thomas wasn't like a chick. Chicks break the egg from the inside. He didn't break the egg from the inside. Jesus broke Thomas' shell from the outside. He broke his egg by appearing to him, by knowing him, by forgiving him and by giving him a task. And when Thomas was broken, he was really broken. He kneels at Jesus feet and worships him as 'my Lord and my God'. I think some of us have pretty hard shells: we've allowed them to become hard. We've been hurt or let down. I think some Christians can become hard because - like Thomas - we have an unrealistic picture of what God is going to do for us, or at least of how and when he is going to do it. We pray for healing, or for a miracle, or for a particular kind of guidance - and nothing happens (at least nothing happens in the way that we think it should happen). And so we become hard. Or we've become hard because of unforgiveness or failure or fear or resentment Or we become hard because of guilt - we've hurt someone or let someone down. We know what we've done, and we can't really face up to what we've done, so we become hard. It happens so often: we even end up blaming the person we have hurt for the fact that we have hurt them! And now we find that we are like chicks inside the egg trying to get out, and we cannot. But Jesus, by bursting out of the tomb, breaks through our shells. He drills through, so there suddenly is a weak point. 1. He really did rise from the dead. We know that, not because like Thomas we saw him. But because Thomas and the others DID SEE HIM. We put our trust in what they saw, and in the way that their lives were changed. 2. When Jesus came to Thomas, he knew exactly what Thomas had said, even though he wasn't physically there when Thomas had said it. And when he comes to us, he knows us and he loves us. I can't explain: it is bigger than words. But you will find - if you trust him - that there will be times when something happens which shows that he really does know you: he knows your innermost thoughts and longings. It won't necessarily happen when you expect it or want it to happen, but it will happen. 3. He forgives Thomas for his refusal to believe. That is the reason Jesus died on the cross: so that our sins are forgiven. And when he appears to his disciples he tells them to declare this forgiveness. And because, when we come to him, we receive forgiveness - we can begin to face up to the reality of the pain that we have caused other people in the past. 4. Jesus gives Thomas a task: indirectly! He says 'Blessed are those who believe who have not seen'. But how are people to believe if they have not seen? Only if people, like Thomas who did see, are prepared to tell others. And Thomas, we are told on quite good evidence, became a preacher of the resurrection of Jesus. He went to India and was used by God to establish the church there. Jesus gives us a task: to be people who live by faith in the resurrection, to be people who declare his message of forgiveness and peace and reconciliation We might be very hard - but remember the four egg shattering truths: Jesus is risen from the dead He knows you and loves you He has forgiven you He has given you a task Have a smashing time!