The thought for our sermon is "Experiencing Jesus' Aliveness Through Believing."
The risen Jesus appears to his disciples and announces, "Peace be with you." Physically, he presents himself in a way that they know it is he. They rejoice. Thomas was not present at that experience. When the disciples shared their experience of being with Jesus, he remarks, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
When Jesus appears another time with the disciples, he gives Thomas the opportunity to experience him physically by touching his physical body. Then he says something that is profound to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
My friends, do we understand what Jesus is presenting to this doubter? We do understand that there is another way of experiencing--another way of experiencing the "aliveness" of Jesus. This is what the Lord is presenting to Thomas and to us. Jesus ties his experience and his aliveness to the medium of believing--believing what you have not physically experienced but only heard about.
We as people of faith often do not realize the Lord wants us to experience his aliveness through the medium of believing his existence within us in our daily experiences. Not just believing his existence with us, but also believing his aliveness for our good as we live our lives. Sometimes we are guilty of thinking God, thinking Jesus, but we fail to open ourselves up to this aliveness of Jesus by believing. Let me share with you the power of this aliveness believing.
Madame C. J. Walker, who was born Sarah Breedlove, in Delta, Louisiana, became America's first black millionaire. She defied the odds of her state of existence. She was illiterate but eventually developed a business that influenced the world's hair products. Madame Walker's husband was killed when she was 20. As a single parent she raised her two-year old daughter. She could not read or write during this period of her life. At a point in her life she found herself going bald. She prayed to the Lord to save her hair. Ingredients to make a formula appeared to her in a dream. She understood her dream to be evidence that the Lord was alive in her experience and guiding her. Through her belief in the Lord's presence, she became successful.
Now, you may think that a silly thing to do: Pray for God to save your hair. But the Lord honored that simple belief. From that simple belief, Madame Walker experienced the reality of the Lord's aliveness in her life. Because of this experience, she went ahead to produce hair products and methods that contributed to the development of the whole hair product industry.
Friends, Scripture lets us know that Jesus was and is God with us. At his time of resurrection with the disciples, he points Thomas to a new reality of experiencing his life--his aliveness. That reality is through the power of believing. He knew some would not see him physically, but he wanted Thomas to know that he could be experienced in an ongoing way through the power of believing.
Belief in the risen Jesus has provided strength, wisdom, and courage to people through the centuries. I have no doubt that Jesus is alive in my life. Do not be one, my friend, who says, "I will not believe." Jesus has come that we may have life abundantly. If we believe him for life eternal, let us believe his existence in every aspect of our living. Jesus is alive! Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.
To God be the glory now and forever. Amen.
Our God, we thank you for this word. We thank you for the aliveness of Jesus Christ in our lives. Help us to be open to that aliveness in fresh ways that you want to make yourself known in our lives. In Christ's name. Amen.