SERMON: Except I Shall See In His Hands The Print Of The Nails And Thrust My Hand Into His Side, by C. K. Franklin

SERMON: Except I Shall See In His Hands The Print Of The Nails And Thrust My Hand Into His Side C. K. Franklin

We call your attention to the book of St. John, the twentieth chapter, the twenty-fourth through the twenty-ninth verses.  “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord.  But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them.  Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.  Then said he to Thomas, Reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.  Blessed are they that have not seen and yet believeth.”

Doubting Thomas.  Doubting Thomas.

The passage that I have read in your hearing tonight deals with one of the post-Resurrection incidents.  If you can call upon your knowledge of history, and upon your powers of imagination, you could picture the hostile world in which these followers of Jesus found themselves.  The Jewish hierarchy had put their leader to death.  He had been tried and condemned by the Jewish church, by the Roman courts, and he had been nailed to a tree while they looked on.  They had seen him drop his head after a terrible experience during the night of the trial, scourging, and crucifixion, that ended on Friday evening about three o’clock.  They heard him say after that terrible night, “It is finished.”  You know how they must have felt when they had chosen to follow him, when they had accepted him as their Messiah, the anointed of God.

And now the man whom they had called the Son of God, was now dead, and apparently disgraced.  And of course you know how they must have felt.  Some of them said, “Well, I’m going back to fishing.  I’m going back to my old job.  I’m going back to my old vocation.  It seems that we made a mistake.”  I believe Peter made the suggestion, and the others followed his lead.

Thomas, who was of the scientific turn of mind, heard some rumors.  The women had said that they had seen him, and that he was alive.  Others said that they were en route to Emmaus, and he joined them and talked with them and while he talked their hearts burned.  Some of the rest of them reported that they had seen him.  Lately it was said that in their secret gathering place in Jerusalem to avoid the police and to avoid arrest and embarrassment, that he had come into their meetings.

But Thomas said, “I don’t believe it.  I don’t believe it.  Obviously you’re being swept by rumors or you’re suffering from hallucinations.  Nobody has ever died as I saw that man die, and come back again.  I was looking at them when they hung him to the tree.  I was looking at them when they nailed his hands and his feet.  I was looking when the soldier thrust the sword into his side.  And I heard him when he dropped his head say, ‘It is finished.’  And I saw them take him down from the cross and lay him in Joseph’s tomb.  I know he’s dead.  Now there’s only one way that you can ever tell me anything different, and that is, I’ll have to see him.  And I’m not going to trust that.  He is going to have to show me his hands, and let me see the nail prints in his hands.  He will have to let me look at his side, and then I will have to examine his side for myself.  I must satisfy the sense of seeing and of feeling before I shall be convinced.  I don’t believe that he’s alive.”

Now Thomas, called Didymus, which means the twin, has received a great deal of ridicule from the Christian world about his doubting position.  But you now, you must give some respect to people who want to know, to people who want to base their faith upon as much knowledge as they can acquire.  You see, superstition, rumor and hearsay are not a sufficient foundation for faith.  I know that faith transcends knowledge, but you get all the knowledge you can get before you stop.  For you see, Thomas was moving on fact.  And you see fact can carry you just so far.  It was a fact that Jesus was put to death, that he was hanged to a tree.  It was a fact that he dropped his head and died, and declared, “It is finished.”  This was a fact.  It was a fact that they took him down and laid him in a tomb.  All of this was fact.  But that is as far as fact could go.  This is the reason that Thomas couldn’t go any further: because he was proceeding on the basis of fact.  You understand what I’m talking about.  His whole operation was based upon empiricism, investigation, and what one can find out.  But you see, faith — you understand what I mean — goes on beyond the grave.  (I don’t believe you know what I’m talking about.)

Faith doesn’t stop at the grave.  Faith didn’t stop when he said, “It is finished.”  Faith didn’t stop when they rolled the stone to the tomb.  And faith didn’t stop when the governor’s seal was placed thereon.  For you see faith goes beyond what I can see and what I know.  I can’t prove God.  And you don’t have to prove God.  Somebody said, “If you haven’t seen God or you haven’t seen Heaven,” and all that kind of thing. . . .  That doesn’t mean anything.  Say, “Who’s been there?”  That doesn’t mean anything, what you cannot prove.  What you cannot see is no argument against its existence.  You can’t see electricity but God knows it exists.  You can’t see energy, but take all the energy out of this room tonight and all of us would be dead shortly.  Hmm?  Many of the forces of the universe, you can’t prove them, you can’t see them, you can’t touch them, but they do exist.  They are realities.  (I don’t believe you know what I’m talking about.)

But Thomas was like many of you that are listening at me tonight.  He wanted to base his faith totally upon fact.  Totally upon faith, or rather upon fact.  But you see faith moves out beyond what I can touch, beyond what I can see, beyond sometimes when I can hear, and even beyond what I can investigate.  I don’t know where God is, but I believe he liveth.  I don’t know anything about how he raised his Son.  I’m not concerned about whether it was bodily or spiritual.  I believe that Jesus liveth tonight.  I believe that he is a living reality.  He is a transforming influence in this old world of ours.  Don’t you know all of these people wouldn’t have been following him by the thousands and by the millions for twenty centuries if he didn’t live?  Don’t you know all of these people who go to their graves with his name on their lips, saying, “Death cannot make my soul afraid if God be with me there, though I walk through the darkest shades, I’ll never yield to fear,” if he didn’t live tonight?  (I don’t believe you know what I’m talking about.)  The great impact that his name has had upon history would not have changed the world society if he wasn’t a living influence.  I believe he liveth.

So Thomas wasn’t at the meetings.  And you know when you fail to meet constantly with that Christian fellowship, you miss so much.  You miss so much in inspiration, you miss so much in God-consciousness, you miss so much in soul-enrichment, when you fail to fellowship with that Christian society.  (I don’t believe you know what I’m talking about.)  So Thomas’s great mistake was he wasn’t there.  And when he came in after having given voice to his doubts, he eventually presented himself at one of the services.  And while they were no doubt musing and meditating upon God, singing his praises, while they were no doubt talking about the fact of his Resurrection, while they were no doubt talking about their faith in the fact that he was alive. . ., without a door being opened.  He can walk in to your life sometime when you unconsciously open the door.  The door of your life might be open and you don’t know it.  He can walk in.  While they were in their meeting he walked in, without a door or window being opened. [Whooping:]

And
when they looked around
he was standing in their midst.
When
they look around
he was there
in their presence.
And it seemed that,
why,
his address
was so consoling.
He knew how
doubtful some of them were.
And
he knew how afraid
some of them had been.
And
he knew how their faith
had been tried.
And
he knew what a terrible ordeal
they’d gone through.
And think about how
consoling
his address was.
Listen at him: “Peace be unto you.”
O Lord,
You know when I think about
the world that we live in,
when I think about
how frustrated
many of us are,
when I think about how
neurotic we’ve become,
when I think about
how tension-filled
many of our lives are,
when I think about
how afraid of life
so many of us are,
why,
I think about what Jesus said,
to those fearing
and doubting disciples.
“Peace be unto you.”
Great God.
You that are afraid tonight,
great day,
you that are anxious tonight,
and
you that don’t know how
to face your problems,
you ought to hear his word
coming down through the centuries,
saying, “Peace be unto you.”
O Lord.
Though the storms
may rage around you,
though the road
that you are traveling
may be rough,
though the problem that you’re faced with
may be perplexing,
O Lord,
he’ll still say to you,
“Peace be unto you.”
O Lord.
Listen.
Did you know what Thomas said
when
he beheld the reality
of Jesus Christ?
You know what Thomas said
when he saw
his wounded hands,
when he beheld
his wounded side?
“My Lord,
and my God.”
Great God.
And I’m going to close when I tell you this.
O Lord.
I’m not going to wait
until I behold
the wounds in his hands.
O Lord.
I’m not going to wait
until I behold the wounds
in his feet.
I’m not going to wait
until I have a chance
to behold the wounds in his side.
I’m going
to acknowledge him as Lord
right now,
every day of my life.
O Lord.
Would you be my guide,
would you be my real leader,
would you lead me through the crises of life?
I’ve got to stop right here.
O Lord.
Yes,
the winds that blow me about,
yes,
my faith is tried sometime,
but I’m going to hold on
to his unchanging hand.
Yes I am.
Yes every day,
every day,
yes every day,
every day of my life,
I’m going to hold on,
in the midst of doubting,
in the midst of the windstorm,
in the midst of failure,
in the midst of frustration,
I’m going to hold on anyhow.
Oh.
O Lord.
Oh yes.
Yes.
For he is my Lord.
and he is my God.

[Speaking:] He is the Lord of my life. He is the Lord of my life. He reigns and he liveth. He liveth. [Singing:]

Maybe you don’t believe it,
but God is real tonight.
God is real tonight.
Sometimes Satan
tries to
make me doubt.
He tells me
that there are a lot of things that I imagine
are not so.
He tries to tell me that I’m caught up
in the grip of
my traditional upbringing;
that God is not real.
But if God is not real
who is it
that watches over me every night?
Oh
who is it
that calms the storms about me
if he’s not real?
Tell me who is it?
Who is it
that makes me cry
when there ain’t nobody hurting me,
that makes a fire burn
down in my soul?
Who is it?
If it’s not the Lord,
then who is it
that makes me run sometimes
when nobody’s behind me?
God is real.

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