John 20 vv 24 29


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  • Today I want to engage with the problem that arises when we try to persuade people of spiritual truth using the thinking tools of secular science.And if you think we are in the school of Noddy and Big Ears do Philosophy … mebbe we are!Just bear with me for five minutes, see if what I’m saying makes any sense at all, then test what I’m saying about John 20:24-29 to see whether what I’m saying isn’t actually at the heart of that passage … OK?
  • Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, thephilosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.[1] From 1939 till 1947 Wittgenstein taught at the University of CambridgeHe was a close (though younger) contemporary of people like Bertrand Russell, J M Keynes and Adolf Hitler.His big idea was concerned with the relationship between the words we use and the ideas those words describe … truth is expressed through words and those words can be understood only within the context of the language game we are currently ‘playing’.Now look … just run with me on that simple idea for a minute.If we’re playing football, you’ve got to run with the offside rule in football … not ice hockey.Now, ice hockey is a perfectly valid discipline.And just because offside in ice hockey is NOT the same as offside in rugby football … that doesn’t mean it’s not offfside!
  • In ice hockey, the current play is offside if a player on the attacking team enters the attacking zone before the puck itself enters the zone, either carried by a teammate or sent into the attacking zone by an attacking player.In Association football, a player is in an offside position if three conditions are met: first, the player must be in the opposing team's half of the field. Second, the player must be in front of the ball. And third, there must be fewer than two opposing players between him and the opposing goal line, with the goalkeeper counting as an opposing player for these purposes. It is not necessary that the goalkeeper be one of the last two opponents.So, in the green diagram, the blue forward on the left of the diagram is in an offside position as he is in front of both the second-to-last defender (marked by the dotted line) and the ball. Note that this does not necessarily mean he is committing an offside offence; it only becomes an offence if the ball were to be played to him at this moment, whether or not he is in an offside positionwhen he receives the ball, as he could receive the ball in anonside position but he'd still have committed an offside offence.In Rugby Union, Offside rules are complex. However the basic principle is simple: a player may not derive any advantage from being in front of the ball.When the ball is carried by a single player in open play, any other player on the same team who is in front of the ball carrier is in an offside position.[1] When the ball is in a ruck, maul, or line-out, any player who is in front of the hindmost foot of the hindmost player of the same side in the ruck/maul/scrum/lineout is in an offside position. When the ball is in a scrum, the scrum-half must remain behind the ball and all other players not in the scrum must remain behind a line parallel to the goal-line and five metres behind the hindmost foot. There’s more: A player in an offside position is forbidden from interfering with play in any way. In particular, a player in an offside position[1]may not receive a pass (forward passes are illegal in any event)may not enter a ruck, maul or scrummay not play the ballmay not move towards the ballmay not move towards, tackle or obstruct a player of the opposing team who has the ball, or who is waiting to receive the ballmust move at least 10 metres away from any opponent who is waiting to receive the ballWhy are we discussing this?We are establishing that different sporting traditions have different definitions of what is right and true … in fact, different criteria for DECIDING what is right and true.So if you are in soccer, right and true is determined within the discipline of that game according to ITS rules.Same in Rugby Union.Same in Soccer.Same in ice hockey.Same in any other sort of discipline you care to mention, chemistry, biology, physics, history, English literature, art … they all have their own criteria for establishing what is right and true.
  • So, in chemistry you come up with a hypothesis, you test it repeatedly by way of observing experiments that show the thing being described is repeatable and it always happens that way whoever and whenever you conduct that experiment and BINGO … at the end of the day you have a truth of chemistry.Try that as the way too establish the truth in history and you’ll hit the wall hard and fast.Why?Because (to give just ONE reason) history is a discipline that by definition deals with once only and not repeatable events!And my friend wants ‘proof’ about of Jesus but will not accept the system of proving things that applies to past events but will only assess (for example) the reliability of the accounts of the Resurrection using the ‘rules’ of Natural Sciences which say that there is no way to repeatedly demonstrate the resurrection of Jesus so it didn’t happen!Demanding scientific ‘proof’ for the historic events that lie at the heart of the Christian Gospel is always going to be a bit like insisting on playing tiddly winks using the ice hockey offside rule!And that is pretty much what Thomas is doing with Jesus in this passage.Jesus is calling for faith and repentance.Thomas is looking for material evidence that negates the whole big faith issue at the core of the faith Christ demands.OK – the first disciples needed to meet the Risen Jesus to be able to be the eye-witnesses of His Resurrection Glory.But the whole ‘game’ is that Jesus is going back to Glory and whilst meeting Him is the big life-changing event for those first disciples and for us, the completion of His mission requires that He rise from the dead and return to His Father’s right hand to be our Great High Priest interceding for us there day by day.Demanding scientific, material proof by the rules of THAT game lies utterly outside the rules of faith based on historical evidence … the High Priest went into the holy of holies day by day to offer sacrifice for the sins of the people but our Great High Priest went in just the once, did a proper job of dealing with sin and doesn’t need to die and rise again to give us scientific proof, but to get on with His intercession at the Right Hand of the Father because His work is adequately done and the need has moved on … and He now calls for faith!THAT is the point Jesus makes in v. 29 …
  • That is NOT to say there is no evidence underlying faith!It IS to say that it might be of a different sort, from a different discipline, and is NO LESS LEGITIMATE FOR THAT …And you could be simply committing the logical error of demanding authentication appropriate to one academic discipline while operating within another discipline entirely.
  • So Thomas is missing out on the peace and joy the others have walked into.Why?
  • So here’s the scenario:Thomas – you do NOT have the testimony of your own eyes to the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.Thomas – you DO have the clear, credible eye-witness testimony of people you can trust to the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.And if you have the will to do so you – although you can’t see him – you can DEFINITELY go and see where He’s BEEN!(There’s a VERY empty tomb up the road with a very blown away huge stone wheel door blown away from it … and a squad of quivering guards away on sick leave for counselling with the leaders of the Jews!)In time to come, for Jesus to return to Heaven to fulfil the next part of God’s plan for His ministry, that’s ALL people are going to be able to have, by definition, to His resurrection: the same credible testimony and meeting Jesus by the Spirit, in the relationship born of regeneration and faith … in the world of sense but NOT in the world of sight (where chemistry belongs).Thomas won’t have it … but we’re jumping the gun.How did Thomas get into this situation in the first place?
  • Thomas needn’t have been in the position of being the only one of the Twelve who hadn’t seen the Lord.Now, no doubt he was VERY frustrated and hacked off with the situation.There were Peter and James and John … in fact ALL of the disciples in that intimate group he’d been part of for the last three and a half years OVERJOYED because they’d seen the Lord.But Thomas wasn’t there when the blessing fell on them.And in that locked room they’d all been living on top of one another – cheek by jowl – for a week now.And Thomas would catch them just bursting out in a grin from time to time.How ANNOYING!And when they thought he wasn’t watching, mebbe, they’d cast each other a glance and high five, or do a little dance … (mebbe whisper to one another ‘He’s ALIVE!’ ‘Yeah, I know, COOL or what?!)How absolutely frustrating, annoying and MADDENING do you reckon that would be?!And there was Thomas, gritting his teeth, crinkling his brow, muttering under his breath …And WHO had he got go blame for his predicament?Nobody.Only himself.Why?Because Jesus had given instructions about what He was going to do and how they should respond and because Thomas was so addicted on believing only what he’d seen before, only believing what was repeatable IN HIS OWN EXPERIENCE of MATERIAL reality … Thomas had given up and gone away after the crucifixion.He’d lived through the difficult day and gone away before the time of blessing, peace and JOY dawned in the disciples’ experience.He wasn’t with the people of God … and if you absent yourself from the fellowship the way Thomas did you’ll miss the Lord’s coming to His people!
  • Can you hear the tone of Thomas’s response to what he hears from the others?Is he THRILLED with their news?He is not:“ Unless …” he says “… I WILL not believe it!”He will not accept reliable eye-witness testimony by faith from accounts of fulfilled prophecy from reliable men able to give that testimony.More than that.It annoys and frustrates him.He is NOT happy to hear it!Here’s his deliberately doubting position …
  • Three things here:
  • Firstly: ‘I’ll make the conditions …’
  • The first condition is I’ll believe it if I see it …
  • Thomas thinks he’s going to set the conditions.The first one is he’s got to see the resurrected Jesus to believe it.The second one is that he’s got to have not only sight but TOUCH … not just one piece of touch evidence but TWO – nail and spear wounds!
  • Three things here:SightTouch… and he KNOWS he’s being WILFULLY unbelieving.This is so OFTEN the true situation with all those people who demand irrefutable evidence from us of the things we rationally, but by faith, believe!Their disbelief is NOT rooted in scientific integrity, but by their conscious wilful decision that they will not believe for reasons unrelated to evidence, but related to what they prefer to believe in order to be able to go on living as they choose.Thomas has talked about evidence, but he HAS evidence … just not within the rules of the game that is being played out!No – he doesn’t like that class of evidence and he’s not prepared to respond to that by faith.He WILL not believe.Let’s face it.Thomas had issues that led him to leave the company and fellowship of those disciples in the first place.He’s WILLED and CHOSEN to be somewhere else, and there were going to have been reasons for why!Thomas is doubting, rather wilfully rebelling against the possibility of resurrection faith, because he wasn’t in the right place either geographically or spiritually and those two things were intertwined!What was it going to take to turn him around?Well, apparently, the testimony of the 10 was enough to correct his absenting himself from the worshipping community of the people of God … he believed them enough to get himself back into faithful commitment to being with the gathered people of God, waiting on the Lord at worship!v. 26 “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.”So he was now in the right place geographically … the pre-requisite for getting back in the right place spiritually …But what was it that restored his spiritual life?
  • Absenting yourself from being with God’s people is a choice.Doubt is a choice.Wilful rebellion against God and refusal of faithful testimony is a choice.It’s up to you.But having put himself in the right place, and waiting there for a week, Thomas met with Jesus.And that encounter with the Living Lord was transformative.It changed Thomas’s will decisively and irrevocably.That was it for Thomas.He WORSHIPPED Jesus.We are not told that he touched Jesus.We are told that he WORSHIPPED Jesus.Do you know … everything else in the Christian life flows from there.Trusting Christ, following Christ, it all flows from meeting Jesus and falling in WORSHIP with Him!My LordMy God(Bit of a tricky one for the JWs that … but there it is).OKWhere’s the conclusion to this sermon …
  • When?‘Then’.When Thomas’s insistence on having his own criteria for evidence and his own choice of what he would accept as true was overcome by his personal, authentic encounter with Jesus.When Thomas gave up on quitting the presence of God’s people when the pressure was on and committed himself to seeking God’s presence amongst His people.(Here’s why ‘internet church’ is a non-starter unless on line is backed up ‘on the ground’ and leads God’s people out ‘on the road’ to takke His misssion forward).That’s when.Why?Because Thomas’s wilful rebellious insistence on inappropriate classes of abstract (in this case ‘scientific’) ‘proof’ was overcome in the evidence of reliable testimony and personal encounter with the risen Jesus.What (would have been better)?Not to have seen, but just heard the testimony and met in an encounter mediated by the Spirit and believed.Better?More blessed?Because that is the full-on, prophesied, life changing New Covenant way.Faith not sight is the authentic New Covenant future which Thomas is now going to be such a powerful part of realising.What are the lessons for us here?When God’s people meet, be there.Because He will.In matters of faith and life, don’t buy into the naturalistic fallacy at the heart of scientific method … because that amounts to playing the FIFA off side rule in tiddlywinks!Faith formed in genuine encounter with Jesus … the heart of what Christ is looking for from you.There will be practical lessons here to learn and apply. Let’s do it.
  • John 20 vv 24 29

    1. 1. “The Son is the and the by his powerful word. After he had provided he at the of the Hebrews 1:3
    2. 2. John 20:24-29• Introduction
    3. 3. John 20:24-29• Introduction – Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein
    4. 4. John 20:24-29• Introduction – Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein – Offside rules in • ice hockey • football • rugby union
    5. 5. ‘Chemistry’ & ‘proof’
    6. 6. John 20:29““Then Jesus told him,‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
    7. 7. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas
    8. 8. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one ofthe Twelve, was not with the disciples whenJesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him,‘We have seen the Lord!’”
    9. 9. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas – Absentee Thomas
    10. 10. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas – Absentee Thomas – Testified t o Thomas
    11. 11. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas“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.’”
    12. 12. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas“But he said to them, – ‘Unless’
    13. 13. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas“But he said to them, – ‘Unless – I see the nail marks in his hands …
    14. 14. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas“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 …
    15. 15. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas“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.’”
    16. 16. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas• Worshipping Thomas – “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!’”
    17. 17. John 20:24-29• Introduction• Missing Thomas• Doubting Thomas• Worshipping Thomas• Conclusion“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seenme, you have believed; blessed are those whohave not seen and yet have believed.’”