Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne
Thomas’ story impacts all of us, because all of us have doubted, and some even here today have doubts about Jesus. Even believers can doubt Jesus. Thomas was a believer, he had lived for three years with Jesus, but still he doubted his Lord.
AN ISSUE OF TRUST
The reason Thomas was doubting Jesus was because he had lost hope. He had seen His Lord arrested, unjustly tried, executed in agony on a cross, and the dream if a coming Kingdom of God lied in tatters.
How many people in 2023 have lost hope? We used to trust our society, but our culture is unrecognisable to the culture we grew up with. We used to trust government, thinking they will supply all our needs. But now the government are forcing mandates, overseeing interest rate hikes, homelessness, condoning the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ agenda for our children, late term abortions, assisted suicide and euthanasia. How can we trust those guys?
Then we have medicine, some of which condones mandates, sex change operations for children, assisted suicides and late term abortions.
Of course, most doctors are honourable, but many feel the system has let them down.
We used to trust what we saw on TV, the news and YouTube. Clearly, we can no longer trust commercial channels or the Gay BC to give us moral truth about anything.
We used to trust churches and church leaders, but so many denominations have done a backflip on moral issues, the likes of which has never been seen before in history. They are standing the Bible on its head to try and justify the Gay agenda. How can we trust those guys?
Thomas, like so much of our 2023 society, had lost hope. Friday, we focused on the sacrifice Jesus made for us, but today is Resurrection Sunday, and today we celebrate hope!
On that dark Friday hope had died. All the dreams of the disciples, all the plans, all the good times had come to nothing. Jesus had healed people, He’d challenged hearts, He had spoken of eternal life, of His Kingdom to come. He’d fed 5,000, raised the dead, challenged the hierarchy…He’d promised big, but on that dark, miserable Friday He’d died, just like any man might. The centurion said truly this man was the Son if God, but all Thomas saw was a dead, broken body.
Luke 23:46-47 (ESV)
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”
Today here perhaps your hopes, like those of Thomas, have died. Your dreams of a successful business, your hopes of a loving, perfect partner in life, your hopes of a together family, your inner desires for ministry. Maybe today they lay shattered in the ground. Perhaps you lost that job, maybe your marriage broke down, maybe your family looks ok on the surface but behind closed doors it’s falling apart. Perhaps that child you love so much is breaking your heart.
Like Thomas so long ago, maybe you’ve lost hope. Like him, perhaps you feel like you’re standing on the boulevard of broken dreams, standing outside the tomb of everything you’ve hoped and believed for, burying the hopes you once had. The disciples were there, they saw everything crumble right before their eyes, and despair won the day.
That Friday Jesus laid His life down for your sin and my sin, but thanks be to God He didn’t stay there. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and the resurrection of hope!
Hope is alive because the tomb is empty! Today hope lives because Jesus lives! Thomas discovered it, and we need to know it today.
Buddha is buried somewhere in a tomb. Mohammad, Confucius, they’re buried somewhere, but Jesus is not. Three days later, Jesus exploded out of the tomb. He’s alive, and everything He promised those disciples, and everything He promises you, is alive as well.
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
Hope is a word that we like to kind of throw around. I hope this works; I hope you feel better; I hope my football team wins; I hope tomorrow will be better. The true essence of the word gets cheapened sometimes.
Webster’s defines hope as: to cherish a desire with anticipation of obtainment. To the world, hope is to long for something, it’s to anticipate something that you want with all your heart to be fulfilled, but it may or may not. But to the world, hope is often dashed!
Turn on the news for example, and hope disappears with every terrorist bomb, every financial forecast, COVID, global warming, every loss, scandal, or controversy. The world’s version of hope is based in what’s happening around you, what you want, what you can get, your desires, your needs. It is based on things that do not and cannot ultimately satisfy. But God’s hope is completely different.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Biblical hope depends not on events, not on government, media, or social media, and not on how much faith you can muster. Biblical hope depends on God’s faithfulness, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrates exactly that!
Biblical hope can be defined as this: a sure expectation based on the promises of God. This hope is different! This hope is eternal and never fails. Hebrews says that:
Hebrews 6: 19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
The hope that God offers is something to build life on, it’s an anchor, it keeps us from drifting after this and floating after that. It is the rock upon which the Christian stands, one that cannot be moved or shaken. This is the hope of God, and this magnificent hope is forever bound up in the resurrection of Christ that we celebrate today.
When the Bible talks about hope, it is not a maybe, it is a surety. Hope for the Christian is an absolute fact, it is something we can live for, even something we can die for! Thomas needed that hope, and after being restored he lived for that hope, and he died for that hope. (3 July, 72AD, at St Thomas’ Mount in Chen Ai, India, speared to death.) Chances are, you need that kind of hope too today.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
THE HOPE VORTEX
During his darkest moment in life, Thomas was told by Mary and the women that Jesus was alive, but he couldn’t believe that Jesus had risen. That’s what doubt does, it steals from you the belief that somehow, someway your dreams might come true! It sucks out hope.
That’s what the devil wants…he wants to bleed your hope dry, and some of you have experienced that. He wants to suck hope out of you so you can’t see any way forward. Satan is a hope vampire, a hope vortex, and he wants to suck the hope right out of you. Look at Job…
My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart. Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?
Do you feel like that today? Has despair sucked your hope from you? If so, you’re in good company, with Thomas, Job, David, Joshua, the disciples, and Paul. Paul says that without the resurrection all of us would be without hope.
1 Corinthians 15:19 (ESV)
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But with the resurrection, hope springs eternal!
1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV)
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
If you feel like your hope is gone today, if you’re walking through the valley of the shadow or death, keep walking. Don’t camp there, and don’t give the devil a foothold. Today, Easter Sunday 2023, is the day when your hope can be resurrected, if you are willing!
Sometimes hope is hidden. God doesn’t take the route we expect Him to take. Thomas learned that. His hopes and dreams were seemingly crushed, yet in God’s economy a setback is a set up for a comeback. Sometimes hope is hidden, but just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there!
God’s great gift of hope took a cross, the very symbol of death and despair and a tomb, the epitome of hopelessness and turned them forever into the symbol of life and hope for the believer.
1 Peter 1:3
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen. And risen with Him is our hope, the true hope, the surety of eternal life, starting the moment we ask Jesus into our life, the hope of living in victory, the hope of restored families, the hope of healings and miracles and fellowship and ministry.
So, if you feel lacking in hope today, if your faith is struggling or weakened, look to the empty tomb because hope was resurrected with Christ.
For some of us, we need to stop trying to manufacture faith, and for some we must stop trying to make stuff happen and do God’s job for Him. Just trust Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, whether you see it or not.
Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
HOPE FOR NOW
Godly hope has two aspects…hope for now and hope forever!
Whatever you face in life right now, whatever fear, whatever drama, whatever pain, sickness, tiredness, conflict, or pressure, because Jesus rose again and because He lives you can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives!
Because Jesus is alive, we now have absolute hope to live each day in the power of His Spirit.
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Jesus Christ,
Because He is alive, we know He will soon return. And He’s not coming back as a baby this time, but He will return for those who believe Him in triumph and in majesty and in power. Look at the mess the world is in…I believe He must be coming back real soon! We know from His resurrection that we have a hope not only for His return, but also for life abundantly, eternal life with Him in heaven. That’s His promise…
1 Corinthians 15:17-20
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
He said if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and your hope is dead! But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Our hope is alive and well.
HOW TO DISCOVER HOPE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY
Here are some simple steps to how you can rediscover true hope today, whatever situation you face?
1. BELIEVE IN CHRIST
None of what I have said about hope applies if you don’t know Jesus as Saviour and Lord. If you are overwhelmed by your troubles, if you are perpetually down or depressed, don’t stay there.
Jesus has done the work, just believe in Him, believe in what He achieved for you in dying on the cross to bring you back to God, and most of all believe in the resurrection. He can save you today, and it’s a free gift, if only you accept Him.
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.
2. ABIDE WITH JESUS
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
You cannot live in hope and live in power if you are disconnected from the Lord. Jesus said, you need to abide in Him. He has a plan and a hope for your future, but you need to stay close and connected to Him and be obedient. If you wander off and do your own thing, not only do you miss God’s best for you, but you stumble away from hope. Take time to pray regularly, set time aside to read and study His Word, and do it every day.
If you want true Biblical hope in your life, plug into God today. Do the Bible reading plan. Let the hope of Resurrection Sunday be every day.
3. BELIEVE GOD’S PROMISES
God lays out promises in His Word, and the closer we are to Him, the more we can listen to Him and apply those promises. God’s promises come to pass with the hope and power of the resurrected Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
The whole of history and all the promises of God revolve around Jesus’ sacrifice on Good Friday and the resurrection power of Easter Sunday
4. STAND TOGETHER
There are so many Christians these days who are not part of a church. They’ve been hurt, disappointed, or bored out of their brains in church. For many, their hope struggles because they are trying to stand by themselves, and that was never God’s plan for us. He built us for community.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
The Bible commands us to not give up meeting together. So, find a church to be a part of, here or anywhere. Ephesians talks about the shield of faith. But what many don’t understand is how the Romans used their shields. They didn’t try and fight alone but joined their shields together to withstand the attacks of the enemy.
Your faith, your belief, your hope is strengthened when you join it together with other believers. It’s called unity, and God blesses it
5. FEAR NOTHING, INCLUDING DEATH
Resurrection power gives us hope, and therefore we can face anything in Christ. Including pain, disaster, and death. We no longer have to live defeated lives. In the power of God, when we are controlled by His Spirit, we can face any foe without fear.
Governments, mortgages, people attacking us, anything life or death can throw at us, we can face it without fear. This includes the biggest fear of all we all have…the fear of death.
Death for the Christian is not a full stop, it’s only a comma. We think it’s a sad day, but for the believer, it’s the best day. Graduation Day…Homecoming Day.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
You may not believe that there’s a life after death, you may not believe that there’s a heaven or hell, but trust me, two seconds after you die, you’ll find out, as will I.
Steve McQueen accepted Christ and asked to meet Billy Graham. He was heading to Mexico for filming and shared a short ride to the airport with Billy Graham. He was fighting cancer at the time, and asked Dr. Graham how he could be assured of eternal life. Billy Graham underlined.
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
And gave his Bible to Steve McQueen.
The actor passed away a few weeks later. His body was flown back to LA, and he was buried at his request with Billy Graham’s Bible open on his chest, and his finger pointing to this verse…
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.
Steve McQueen knew that hope, and so can you.
CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY
Colossians 1:27 (ESV)
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Easter Sunday is not about hot cross buns, hot cross bunnies, or chocolate eggs. It’s not about a religious celebration. Thomas learned what we know…that resurrection Sunday is about hope. Hope restored, hope to face anything, hope that fills us, hope that is alive, just as Jesus is alive today!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just a historical event, and it’s certainly not a fairy story. It is clearly supported by historical facts. And it was the resurrection of hope for Thomas and the other disciples, who moved from despair to abundant joy, and from fear to incredible courage. Of the eleven disciples who witness the death and resurrection of Jesus, they were so inspired, so filled with hope that ten of them including Thomas died martyrs’ deaths for what they believed.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the resurrection of eternal hope, the hope that will never fail. It’s the rock on which we stand, it’s the power by which we live, it’s the hope we have for all eternity. This hope is here today for you if you want it!
Christ in you, the hope of glory.