The Man Who Almost Missed Easter

Title: The Man Who Almost Missed Easter

Bible Book: John 20 : 19-31

Author: Sammy Burgess

Subject: Easter; Resurrection



I want to give you a Biblical truth (only 3 words) that will change your life (if you let it). There is a truth that will Cleanse you from your sin - Comfort you in your sorrows and Convert you to a saint. This one Bible truth will make you love one another - forget your hurt feelings. This one truth can put marriages back together. It can give you light in your darkest hour - it can fill the emptiness in your life. This one powerful truth can keep you out of hell and take you to Heaven. This Truth will make you think twice before you doubt the very existence of God. This one truth will give you Gladness instead of gloom - Joy instead of judgment - Happiness instead of heaviness - Blessing instead of burdens and Deliverance instead of defeat.

The Truth in these 3 words was the Force on the Day of Pentecost. This Wonderful Truth has been the Foundation and the Future of The Church.

That one truth is this: JESUS IS ALIVE!!!!

Before we allow this day to become an ordinary day - just another Sunday - we must be aware that the very Truth that Jesus is alive and well will absolutely make a difference in your life.

2 Timothy 2:8 says, “Remember that Jesus Christ of seed of David was raised from the dead, according to my gospel”

Some people celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus with intensity. They understand completely what Easter is all about. But there are those who celebrate Easter ignorantly. They don’t fully understand what Easter is all about.

A group of 4-year-olds were gathered in a Sunday School class in Chattanooga. The teacher looked at the class and asked the question, ‘Does anyone know what today is?’ A little 4 year old girl held up her hand and said, ‘Yes Teacher, today is Palm Sunday.’ The teacher replied, ‘That’s fantastic; that’s wonderful … Now does anybody know what next Sunday is?’ The same little girl held up her hand and said, ‘Yes, next Sunday is Easter Sunday.’ Once again the Teacher said, ‘That’s fantastic.’

Then she said, ‘Now, does anyone know what makes next Sunday Easter?’ The same little girl responded again, ‘Yes, Next Sunday is Easter because Jesus rose from the grave,’ and before the teacher could congratulate her, she kept on talking and said, ‘But if He doesn’t see His shadow - He has got to go back in for 7 weeks.’

Now I believe that Jesus is alive - and we ought to Celebrate His Resurrection with intensity. There should be no question about Jesus being alive. The resurrection of Jesus Christ will remove all doubts.

As you look at (John 20), you will find that this whole chapter is wrapped around the first day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The news that Jesus was alive was getting out and there was great excitement and encouragement.

The Gospel of Mark tells us that there were those who were skeptical about it; they were not really sure that the Resurrection had really taken place. And so the Disciples had gotten together again in the upper room and now they are talking and discussing the matter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you look closely, the Disciples are an interesting bunch. They are a motley crew. For instance, [Simon Peter was very impulsive. He had a tendency to back-slide.] - [James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were position seekers.] (They were also called “the sons of thunder.”) [John, the beloved, was one that was very devoted.] [Judas was a devil to begin with.]

But then you have Thomas. He was one who looked on the gloomy side of things. Thomas was one whose life was filled with question marks instead of exclamation points. Thomas was one of those types of people who, instead of seeing a cup ‘half-filled’ - he would see it half-empty. Thomas was one who, instead of figuring out how you could do something - he would figure out you couldn’t do something. Thomas was a “drop out” from the school of faith. Thomas was a ‘missing person’ from the school of happiness. So the Lord is going to have to do something in the life of Thomas to cause him to believe that He is really alive. I believe that we’re about to discover that many of us are just like Thomas.

As we look at this wonderful story, if Thomas the doubter (the pessimist) can be convinced that Jesus is really alive - then all of us will have an opportunity to be convinced of, and believe in the Resurrection. Lets take a few minutes and study the life of Thomas, the man who almost missed Easter.

I. Thomas Missed The Appearance Of Jesus

Thomas was not in the upper room the first time Jesus appeared to the Disciples. Where was Thomas? Where did he go? What was he doing? Thomas was missing out on what he needed the most.

Now the disciples were gathered together behind closed doors. They were afraid of the Jews. You see, word was out that they stole the body of Jesus. Every footstep they heard caused their heart to skip a beat. Every knock at the door created a fear in their life. But in the midst of their troubles; in the midst of their fears, Jesus came and stood in their midst.

‘Just when I need Him the most, Jesus is near;

Just when I falter, just when I fear, Just when I need Him the most, He is near.’

Jesus was there to meet with His disciples. But where is Thomas? The very thing Jesus was going to do for the disciples and give to the disciples - were the very things Thomas needed in his life.

Jesus was there to be with His disciples (in the midst of their troubles) and give them what they needed to calm their troubled hearts. (Notice how Thomas Responded.)

A. The Responsibility He Shunned

Jesus had sent word to tell them that He was alive and that He would see them soon. But instead of Thomas heeding to His Word, he was absent. Instead of taking the Lord at His Word, he disobeyed Him.

Thomas had a responsibility that no one could fulfill for him. His was responsibility was to be in the presence of Jesus. Thomas was suppose to be in the place where Jesus was to Appear.

B. The Opportunity He Lost

Thomas had the opportunity to receive (PEACE IN HIS LIFE). Jesus had come to give His disciples peace. This is what they needed.

Look at 20:19, “… came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”

Jesus had prepared them for this day. He had told them that there would be days of uncertainty. But He also gave them a wonderful truth…

John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

We are living in a day where multitudes of people desperately need the Peace that Jesus Christ can bring. The business man that is fighting the tough world of competition - needs the Peace that Jesus can bring. The parents that have the great responsibility of raising children in this ungodly generation - need the Peace that Jesus can bring. The young person who is battling peer pressure; the young person who is confronted with temptation; the young person who faces decision that could make or break their life - need the Peace that Jesus Christ can bring.

Our world is filled with so much uncertainty, that it is bringing people to the point of despair and distress of the mind and heart. I don’t think I have seen a day in which despair was so widespread as it is today. And what is interesting to note, that this uncertainty, this doubt not only effects those who are older, but, also, amazingly enough, it effects the youth. They are facing life, but they are finding that there is [nothing of challenge in it - nothing of interest to them. Many young people confess themselves to be bored with life. They confess they are frightened and uncertain. It is estimated that every 2 hours a College student takes his or her own life.

Ray Stedman read this letter in one of his sermons. He received a copy of a letter from a high school senior in Pennsylvania. “Day after day and night after night I go around searching and trying to find the answer to peace, joy, and satisfaction. The way of meaning to life seems so blocked and hopeless to find I cannot help but view everything as Shakespeare viewed things.

No matter how sincere people seem, everything seems like a big stage and everyone just players. A person just assumes a part and plays his part until the curtain goes up for a new scene. Life is a street without purpose; a car without meaning. Life seems to be a big joke. It seems like everyone is lying to you; trying to pull a trick on you, and standing back in the shadows laughing at you. It seems too black to realize that here we are, creatures who didn’t ask to be born, but are put here on a seemingly forsaken planet. We are demanded to pay consequences for our deeds in a hereafter, we are told, but why should we be responsible for things we do when we didn’t ask to be born? WHY? Is the big why in my life.”

We are living in a generation that has literally lost its anchor. You could say that much of this generation is drifting aimlessly.

Jesus had the answer for Thomas; but he lost the opportunity to receive the (comfort); Peace Within that he needed to live.

Thomas lost the opportunity to receive the PURPOSE FOR HIS LIFE.

Look at 20:21, “… as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.”

Jesus set forth a commission to go forth into all the world. They were to reach those around them, and to reach those who were not near them. Jesus basically gave them a world-wide assignment. Jesus has given the Church the same assignment. We are to be soul-winners. The Church is to be Mission conscience. How were the disciples going to get the job done? Keep in mind that Jesus never gives an impossible task without providing Supernatural strength.

Look at 20:22, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”

What Jesus was doing here is giving them the Power to accomplish the task that was set before them. And if you note what Jesus said, He made a statement: “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” - This statement told the disciples that they could not do the Work that He had given them without His Presence and His Power.

Basically what Jesus was doing was giving a Symbolic picture of what would happen on the Day of Pentecost.

The Bible teaches us that the disciples were in the upper room (on the day of Pentecost) and that room became filled with the Heavenly Breath of God. The Bible refers to it as a “mighty rushing wind” - and at that very moment, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

What the Church needs to keep in mind is that IT IS THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT GIVES THE CHURCH LIFE. What gives power to the Witness of believers is the breath, the wind, of the Holy Spirit.

Then Jesus does an interesting thing. Jesus makes an important statement, ““Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (20:23)

Jesus was not telling His disciples that they had the power to forgive sins. They knew the only One who could forgive sins was God.

There was a lady who had to go into the hospital for surgery. The official clergyman of a particular group came in; talked with her for a moment; and then said; (‘Are there any sins in your life that you need for me to forgive?’). She responded; ‘Let me see your hands. I’m sorry, you can’t forgive my sins; The only one who can forgive me of my sins has nail prints in His hands.’

Jesus was not giving them the power to forgive sins; He was giving them the opportunity to proclaim the Message of forgiveness. It is Jesus who produces the Miracle of forgiveness, the disciples were to proclaim the Message of forgiveness.

I have the privilege of presenting the Plan of Salvation. It is a simple plan. A person must realize they are a sinner; realize that the wages of sin is death; but that Jesus died on the Cross for all sins; and all they have to do is confess their sins and invite Jesus into their heart.

If a person responds to these things - I have the authority to say; ‘Your sins are forgiven’. What I have done is simply (proclaimed) forgiveness. I did not produce it.

Now, if a person rejects the Message of Salvation, then I have authority to say; ’Your sins are not forgiven; you are still in your sins.’ Every Christian has a message to tell; they have good news to spread; then they have every right to (proclaim) that one has their sins forgiven or not forgiven.

But Thomas missed all this. He was absent. He shunned his responsibility; he lost the very opportunity to receive the things he was in need of.

Where was Thomas? He could have been afraid. He could have been depressed. Something could have been bothering him.

Whatever it was; whatever the problem Thomas had - he missed out on what he needed. And what he needed was simply to see Jesus.

Thomas Missed The Appearance Of Jesus

II. Thomas Made An Assumption About Jesus

Look carefully at 20:24, “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”

I want you to think about something. Jesus had chosen 12 disciples. We know that Judas had committed suicide. So that leaves 11. But when Jesus appeared to the disciples, there were only 10. It is a strange thing that Jesus never asked for Thomas. He never asked them to go out and find him. I don’t have the answer for this - but I do believe that this may be something to think about.

In 20:25 we see that the disciples, when they saw Thomas, began to tell him what they saw … Notice what Thomas did when he heard what the disciples said. He begin to make assumptions about Jesus.

A. The Testimony He Rejected

Notice 20:25, “The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord”

These disciples were all worked up about it. They were excited about the fact that Jesus was alive.

This statement in {20:25} literally means they kept saying; ‘We have seen the Lord’. They couldn’t get over it. They could only say; ‘Jesus is alive! We have seen the Lord. He is back from the dead just like He said. We have nothing to fear; nothing to fret; Thomas, this is a great day; We have seen the Lord.’

The disciples were Thomas’ dear friends. These men were not some ordinary men that he didn’t know; these were not men who were trying to trick him. These were 10 of the closest friends he had on this earth.

If you use your imagination, you will see Thomas just bowing his head, sadly shaking his head saying; ‘Fellows, I just don’t believe it’. Thomas had 10 eye-witnesses to the fact that Jesus Christ was alive.

Back during the trial of O.J. Simpson, they couldn’t find witnesses to prove that he did or did not murder his wife Nicole. But can you imagine if 3 eye-witnesses took the witness stand and said, ‘We were there the night of the murder … We saw O.J. Simpson murder his wife.’ That would have been all the case needed. They would have found him guilty, and no one would have thought any different about it.

WHY? Simply because they had witnesses to prove he murdered his wife.

Thomas had 10 witnesses; 10 close friends; 10 men, that the last time he saw them, they were fearful for their own lives. They were afraid; they were worried.

But now, as they stand before Thomas, they are just as calm as they could be. Something is different about them. Who they saw cured their heart problem. But poor Thomas - he had his mind made up about what he thought about Jesus being alive!! Thomas rejected their testimony.

B. The Test He Recommended

Look at 20:25, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I WILL NOT BELIEVE.”

This is a ‘double negative’ - What Thomas was actually saying; ‘I WILL NEVER BELIEVE.’

Thomas was establishing the conditions by which he would believe. Thomas had a head problem. He had become a skeptic.

We know that there are ‘skeptics’ alive and well today. But I want you to think very carefully about something. There is basically {one word} that separates the ‘skeptic’ from the ‘true believer’ - (just one word).

The believer says; ‘I will believe’

The Skeptics say; ‘I will NOT believe’

While the believers for nearly 2000 years have been celebrating the fact of the Resurrection that Jesus died and rose again on the 3rd day - the ‘skeptics’ still can’t prove that the Resurrection is not true. You either believe that Jesus is alive - or you don’t.

I have heard people tell me; ‘Preacher, I just can’t believe in this Jesus stuff. I just can’t believe that He died and then He rose again’. *I do not believe it’s a matter of can’t believe - I believe that it is a matter of ‘I won’t believe.’

Thomas was setting up a test. And the strange thing about this test is - he wanted Jesus to show him something that He had already shown to His disciples. Thomas wanted to see and touch the nail prints in his hands he wanted to put his hand in the side of Jesus. If Thomas had been there when Jesus appeared to His disciples, he would not have any doubts about His Resurrection.

I am convinced there are too many people who miss out on actually seeing Jesus. There are people here today that will see blessings, but they will not see the One who gave the blessings. There are people here right now that will hear the songs about the Savior - but they will not see the Savior of the songs.

Thomas only assumed that Jesus was dead. He was to the point that he was (not willing) to believe the truth.

Thomas Missed The Appearance Of Jesus

Thomas Made An Assumption About Jesus

III. Thomas Manifested The Assurance From Jesus

Thomas still had his doubts; but there is one good thing he did, he at least showed up the next time the disciples had a meeting.

Look carefully at 20:26, 27, “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. {27}- Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.”

In these 2 verses, we see the wonderful Grace of Jesus. After 8 days, the disciples gather again, this time Thomas was with them, and we are told that Jesus appeared to His disciples again; and Jesus had the same message for them; “Peace be unto you”.

When Thomas heard these words, Jesus does something very interesting. Thomas told the disciples what he needed to see and touch in order to believe. So Jesus gets on Thomas’ level and shows him the nail prints in His hands and shows him His side. It is if as Jesus was doing everything possible to Thomas so he would believe.

Thomas didn’t ask Jesus to do this - Jesus already knew the heart of Thomas. And I believe when Jesus showed him His hands and side, Thomas had to feel some shame.

Jesus said something that I believe is the key to reaching the very need of Thomas, Look carefully at 20:27, “be not faithless, but believing”

What Jesus was saying to Thomas was, “Thomas, starve your doubts and feed your faith,” Jesus was leading Thomas from the dungeon of doubt to the Temple of Trust.

You may be wondering, ‘Did Thomas actually put his fingers on His wounds?’ I don’t think in this instance Thomas did. I think when Thomas was confronted with the Presence of the Living Lord, and confronted with the wounds that represented what Jesus had done on the Cross for him, and when he heard the words of Jesus - I think that was all it took to convince him that Jesus was who He said He was.

The reason I believe this is - Thomas teaches us a great lesson. You and I have never seen Jesus face to face; but by faith we have received Him - believed in Him - trusted in Him. I don’t believe Thomas touched Jesus at this time - but Thomas did something that helps you and I in the days in which we live.

Look at 20:29, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me {not touched Me}, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

I have a feeling that Thomas fell on his knees before Jesus. He felt an awesome presence of Jesus; he encountered something Supernatural from Jesus - for notice what he said …

Then in 20:28, “And Thomas answered and said unto Him, MY LORD and MY GOD”

“MY LORD” - This tells us that Thomas acknowledged His Sovereignty

“MY GOD” - This tells us that Thomas acknowledged His Deity

“My Lord” - Thomas put Jesus on the Throne of his heart

“My God” - Thomas put Jesus on the Throne of the Heavens (the Universe)

You may be wondering if there is any hope for you. We know that we haven’t seen Jesus, but we know that His Presence is with us. And by faith we can receive Him.

Hebrews 11:6, “… he that cometh to God must Believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with Thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine Heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, Thou shalt be saved.”

Thomas manifested this assurance; Thomas showed the assurance that Jesus gave him. “My Lord and My God”. Thomas truly believed in Jesus.

Note 30, 31, “Many other signs truly did Jesus”. Jesus performed other Miracles. Jesus did great things while here on earth; but Jesus did these things that men might believe in Him - and when they believed in Him, they would have life through His name.

“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”

Let The Words Jesus is Alive!!!!! Change Your Life.

IV. Conclusion

I heard a remarkable story about a woman named Edith Burns. She was a radiant, godly Christian lady who lived in San Antonio Texas. She was a patient of a doctor named Will Philips. Dr. Philips was a godly man.

He loved his patients. He never went through the back door to go to his office. He always went through the lobby to see every patient personally. But his favorite patient was Edith Burns.

One day Dr. Philips had a heavy heart. He had some bad news for Edith Burns and he really didn’t want to tell her. He went through the lobby as he usually did and there was Edith Burns sitting there with her big black Bible, talking to a lady about the Lord. He told his head Nurse Beverly that he was suppose to see Edith Burns first, but he told her that there was a Spiritually delivery going on. Beverly knew what he meant because Edith Burns had lead her to Christ.

Edith always introduced herself this way; “Hello; my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?” She would always share the Easter story of the Death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. She lead many patients to Christ.

Edith sat down and saw the long face of Dr. Philips. She begin to question him… He told her that she had cancer, and that she wasn’t going to live long. She said; “Dr. Philips; shame on you. Why are you so sad? You just told me that I am going to see very soon my precious Lord Jesus. You just told me that very soon I am going to see my husband. You just told me that very soon I am going to see my friends. Dr. Philips; God makes no mistakes. Here I am fixing to go and celebrate Easter for ever in Heaven and you don’t want to give me my ticket. Shame on you.”

She said; “Dr. Philips; you know what this means don’t you. This means that I will have to come and see you at least twice a week.” He reminded her that he was the doctor; then he said; “Edith, you come in and see me at least twice a week.”

She didn’t come in twice a week. She came every day; and she brought her big black Bible with her and a sack lunch to stay the whole day. Every patient that sat down, she would go over to them and say; “Hello; my name is Edith Burns; do you believe in Easter?” Every day she lead at least one patient to the Lord.

During the Christmas holidays the doctor’s office was closed. It opened again on January 3, but on this day, Edith didn’t show up. They didn’t think much about it, but during the morning, Dr. Philips received a phone call. It was Mercy Hospital in San Antonio Texas. Edith Burns told Dr. Philips that the Lord impressed upon her to move her Easter Story to Mercy Hospital. But they would let her in because she didn’t have permission from a certified doctor. She said; “Dr. Will; the Lord has told me that I am near home. The Lord has told me that I am going to my Heavenly home to celebrate Easter real soon. Dr. Will, see to it that I get a double room. See to it that every patient that is brought into my room will be a woman who needs to hear about Easter.”

Every week, there was a new woman that was brought into her room. Just as she would get comfortable in her bed, Edith would say; “Hello; my name is Edith; do you believe in Easter?” Many of the patients were getting saved.

Days went by and Edith began to get flowers from patients; calling her ‘their mother’. Nurses began to get saved; 2 doctors accepted the Lord. They begin to say on the 8th floor; “Happy Easter!” They started calling Edith Burns; Edith Easter.

Every one was getting excited except for one nurse; her name was Phyllis Cross. She was not interested in what Edith was saying…

Phyllis Cross did get saved… “Hello; my name is Phyllis Cross; do you believe in Easter?”

I believe in Easter because I believe in the Death, burial, and Resurrection of the Lord! I believe that He is alive. And this is good news too good to keep.

The Truth That JESUS IS ALIVE Will Change Your Life Forever!


Thomas almost missed the great experience that Jesus is alive. But when he saw the Lord, not only did he believe, he paved the way that we could believe. Thomas saw Jesus with his natural eyes. We can see Jesus with our Spiritual eyes.

Don’t miss this Great Truth that Jesus Is Alive. When you receive the Lord, you will never be the same.

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