[Disclaimer: The outline form didn’t transfer from my Word Doc, properly]
I want to talk about two types of witnesses:
1-The First Witness
2-The Second Witness
The “First Witness” is an eyewitness. He sees with his own eyes.
The “Second Witness” didn’t see with his own eyes, but believes the First Witness. As well, through the Holy Spirit, he has a relationship with Jesus that enables him to believe even though he has not seen with his physical eyes. He is equally convinced of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, but was not a first witness
I have never seen Jesus, physically or literally, but I believe in Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection from death.
I have a friend whom I trust who says that she saw Jesus walking in her church once. I believe her. She understood this to be a vision. She only saw, she did not touch.
Today, I want to talk about the significance of Thomas, an apostle of Jesus.
We know him as the “doubter,” but we should consider him to be Thomas the Believer, because that is who he became.
There are many Thomases in the world today. They were people who doubted that Jesus could have resurrected from the dead, but then, as they examined the evidence, they became believers.
Becoming a believer is not just an intellectual act, but a spiritual one. Since God is Spirit, and true worshipers must worship him in Spirit and in Truth, so to become a believer, a true believer “IN” Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, it is a submission of our spirits to God.
Thomas is called the “doubter” but really, he was an “Unbeliever.”
Let’s be real…he did NOT believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead. So, Thomas was an UNBELIEVER.
And then, later, he became a believer.
His conversion, if we may use that term, was significant, in that the Holy Spirit allowed us to have the story of how this disciple of Jesus was adamant to not be conned by anyone or anything.
I have never seen Jesus.
Even though I have never seen Jesus, I have been Jesus.
I have shared the Love of God through Jesus the Messiah on many occasions. People have received Jesus’ love from me.
As well, I have been Jesus, dramatically. Many years ago, I played the part of Jesus in an Easter play, musical.
Let me tell you, I was very thin at that time, and I was the thinnest Jesus you would have ever seen.
I didn’t look like myself, either, as I had blond hair at that time and it was painted each evening. Much makeup was applied to my very pale complexion, and the only thing that wasn’t changed were my eyes. They are blue and still were then.
There was nothing dramatic about me in the play, except that I was an actor who tried too hard.
The director cut most of my scenes out, and had the choir sing songs about Jesus for the first 30 minutes. Then, at a dramatic point, I came onto the stage, and a woman brought a lame girl to me. I held her, looked up to heaven and set her down…she lept into her mother’s arms, healed.
It was an electrifying moment.
What I liked about it was that people saw me as Jesus (but it wasn’t obvious who I was because of the make up and hair coloring).
So, I was an illustration of Jesus that people saw with their senses.
Then, the director asked me to walk into the audience, and occasionally pat a few people on the shoulders as I walked by them, and exited at the back of the church.
For some people, I was not only an illustration that they saw, but they felt my hand…the sense of touch was involved.
That was my story. I have more to say, but let’s hear Thomas’ story:
I am looking at John 20 the day of the Resurrection, and then a week later.
19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
So, the evening of the resurrection, Jesus met 10 of the disciples.
- 1. The First Witnesses
- Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus, alive. She didn’t recognize him, at first, but when Jesus called her name, she heard, saw and then held him. She knew, it was Jesus
- There were two disciples who went to the town of Emmaus and while they were walking, Jesus began to walk with them, too. For some reason, they didn’t recognize that it was Jesus. Sight wasn’t key, and Jesus spoke to them, and they still didn’t recognize him (actually, after they finally did recognize him, they understood from hindsight that their hearts burned while he spoke to them). They recognized Jesus in an action… breaking bread, as he had done a few nights before.
- Now, later in the day, the Disciples are behind locked doors our of fear, and Jesus somehow comes to them…locked doors don’t keep him out any more than stones over tombs keep Jesus inside.
- Those first witnesses were blessed to see Jesus, alive. They had already heard Jesus predict his imminent resurrection, but they must have thought he was talking about a resurrection at the end of time.
- The first witnesses had never taken a class in successful evangelism. They didn’t have any special gospel booklets to hand out. They simply said, “We have seen the Lord.”
- Our sharing of the gospel can be that simple. Even though we have not seen Jesus, physically, we can study the Scriptures and share from them. I did that once this week with a man, and I believe it spoke to his heart.
- We are NOT part of the First Witnesses. We are part of the second group of Witnesses. The Second group consists of those who heard about Jesus and believed in Him even though we have not physically seen or touched Jesus.
- 2. The Second Witnesses
- As I mentioned, before, these are the ones, like us, who have not actually seen Jesus, physically, but due to the witnesses of others, we believe
- Thomas was not a “Second Witness.” He refused to be a second witness.
- Thomas would only be a first witness, or none at all.
- I understand Thomas. I am skeptical about many things.
- It takes time for me to believe.
- When I first believed in Jesus, it was natural, because I had grown up going to church.
- However, when I was a teenager, something more precious appeared to me: approval of friends. And for a short time I turned away from church, and stopped following Jesus, closely.
- But, in time, I was convinced that Jesus was greater than anything else, and if my friends were really my friends, then they would love me even though I was a Christian. When I graduated high school, I was able to sing a song about salvation at our graduation ceremony…I was a Second Witness, since I had not physically seen Jesus, and other friends of mine were encouraged to be second witnesses, too.
- Like Thomas, a second witness doesn’t blindly believe…he or she will investigate, and come to a decision: Yes, I believe or No, I don’t believe.
But, unlike Thomas, we don’t get to see Jesus in his resurrected state, but we do get to believe.
- Second witnesses are blessed, as Jesus said. What could he mean? Certainly we consider the first witnesses to be the “blessed” ones.
- I find that second witnesses are strongest when Jesus means something to them…when they are able to attribute something real, and tangible happening in their lives because they had prayed in Jesus’ Name.
- The Witness of Scripture
- The Scriptures are reliable because they are God’s Word
- They were written by First Witnesses—Apostles or Prophets
Every book of the Incil was written by an apostle of Jesus, or the close associate of an Apostle. Whereas Luke was not an Apostle, but he was the close associate of Paul. Mark was not an Apostle, but a close associate of Peter (and Paul, too)
- Scriptures are to be heard, read, memorized and taught
- When we come back on Friday evening, we will see the Scriptures come alive as Wendy will share two monologues: one of Esther and one of Mary
- There was a young lady, about 28 years ago, who was a school student. Her family was going through trouble and she was very unhappy. She got it in her mind that she should end her life. She even made a plan to do this at the end of the week, on Friday night.
Her neighbors were burdened for this young lady and they got tickets for the play at their church that Friday night. It was an Easter play, and these neighbors saw the play the week before, and decided that they would take their neighbor to the play (they had no idea that the girl was planning to take her life)
The girl decided to go to the play, she could resume her plan when she came home.
The play that evening was slightly delayed…these things happen, and the director told the cast to speed things up a bit. In fact he told me that when I walk through the audience, not to stop and touch 4-5 people, but perhaps only one, as we had to hurry.
When that scene came up, I stepped on the stage and I healed a lame girl and I stepped into the audience. I remembered that I must rush through the audience. I resisted touching anyone, and as I was near the exit, I reached out and touched someone without even paying attention to whom
You know, we can see Jesus.
We can see him in those who are in great need, as Jesus said, whatever you do to the least of these, you have done to me.
People can see Jesus in us…when Clover and I served the forgotten special needs orphans of Almaty, Kazakhstan, we knew that we were sharing Jesus’ love with those kids
It is wonderful when we are Jesus to someone and we don’t realize it, but they do!
I had randomly reached out and touched only one person that night.
I had given it no special thought and couldn’t tell you if I had touched a woman or man or a child or adult
But the person I touched could tell
The person I touched had thought that God had forgotten all about her
What she believed about Jesus was not enough to prevent her from making plans for suicide
What she believed was a combination of truth and a lie. She believed Jesus was God’s Son, but she also believed that God didn’t care about her.
Then as the character of Jesus passed by, quickly, his hand rested for a moment on her shoulder
- Jesus met Thomas a week after he had met the other disciples
He showed him his hands and his side
He said, stop doubting and believe
- Thomas’ Response: Thomas Cried, “my Lord and my God!”
- This young lady cried, “Father, forgive me for planning to take kill myself,” and she followed Jesus from that point
- Both of these people became known for their Belief, and no longer for their doubt.
One was a First Witness
The other was a Second Witness
They both met Jesus
They both followed him, too
- Our Witness
- God calls us to be his Witnesses
- Where: In all the world
- Jesus promises to be with us