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Jesus Meets A Realist

By Jack Hayford
The King's Seminary -- I'd Iike to know God," the young man told me, "but I don't know how." His name was Phil, and he told me that even though he wanted to believe, he really didn't believe.

"That's OK, Phil," I told him. "Don't worry about that. But let me suggest something here. Would you be willing to pray a prayer with me?"

"I don't know if I can…."

That's all right. I'll tell you what to say."

So I prayed, and Phil (unsure but willing) repeated after me: "God, I don't even know if You're there. But I do ask You this, sincerely from my heart, that if You will somehow show Yourself to me, I'll serve You with all my heart."

Phil said thank-you and went on his way.

That same evening he walked into a restaurant by himself, was seated, and started scanning the menu. A few minutes later another man walked in and took a seat near Phil. They began to talk, and Phil noticed that the man was carrying a Bible.

"That's strange," he said.

"What's strange?" the man asked.

"Well, it's strange that you would walk into this restaurant and sit down here with that Bible. Just a couple of hours ago I prayed a prayer. I said, 'God, if You're real, please show Yourself to me. It makes me a little nervous to think that— maybe—that's what you're doing here."

The man not only had a Bible, he had a testimony He took the opportunity to tell Phil about his relationship with Jesus Christ. Phil still wasn't ready to make a decision. It all seemed too strange. But after a few days of thinking about it, he made up his mind. He gave his life to Jesus Christ.

Jesus has a way of meeting people where they are. Jesus met Phil where he was, in his doubt and unbelief. And that's exactly where he met Thomas, too.

To this day we call him "Doubting Thomas." But he was really just a tight-fisted realist. Hard-nosed. Naturally skeptical. Cautious. The type of individual that gives salespeople fits. No one ever accused Thomas of being from Missouri, but that "show me" attitude was certainly in evidence.

When Jesus told the disciples they were headed back to Judea at one point in His ministry, Thomas was at his pessimistic but loyal best:

Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to hisfellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."(John 11:16)

Some time later, when Jesus began explaining some deep spiritual realities at the Last Supper, it was Thomas who wanted to bnng it all down to a flat, practical, bottom line.

Jesus said: "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." (John 14:2-4)

I can just visualize Thomas holding up his hand at this point and saying, "Lord, wait a minute here!" Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" (v. 5)

Thomas wanted to get it straight. He wanted it in plain Aramaic. He wanted to know the plan. He wanted to see it on a chart and a map.

The night of the Resurrection Thomas wasn't present when the other ten disciples met and spoke with their risen Lord.

Thomas heard the report—verified by ten of his close colleagues —but refused to "get his hopes up" until he had further evidence. He told his friends: "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:25)

Just a week later the risen Jesus Christ hand-delivered that evidence to Thomas in the same upper room where He had appeared before.

Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."

And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:26-28)

This is an encounter between the squint-eyed realist and the Ultimate Pragmatist, because Jesus is very practical. I am weary with the portrayals that paint anything to do with God, Jesus, and the Bible as some kind of ethereal, mystical, poetic sort of impractical concept that you can't isolate and get your hands on.

Jesus was willing to meet Thomas exactly where he was. Realist to realist. "Put your hand here, Thomas. Put your finger here. Touch Me. Stop wavering in unbelief and get on board!"

Again and again I've seen the hand of God reaching into the most practical details of His children's circumstances. I've seen Him meet men and women in their doubt and perplexity. I've seen Him answer the specific prayers of honest seekers. The Lord says to us, "I know the things you have questions about and doubts about, and I will address them directly if you'll ask Me to."

He's ready to meet you right where you are—wherever you are—if you will reach out your hand and put it into His outstretched hand. When you think about it, He didn't only meet us halfway, He came all the way from heaven to earth to prove and demonstrate His great love.

That's evidence enough, friend.

Even if you're from Missouri.

Watch the Video Gordon Robertson: What does it mean to be 'born again?'

Steps to Peace with God

Answers to Your Questions About Faith and God's Easter Resources special section

Answers about Jesus from 'The Passion of The Christ'

More Bible Study and Theology on Spiritual Life

More from Spiritual Life

Taken from Glorious Morning!: An Invitation to Easter Praise. Copyright 2000 by Jack Hayford.Used with permission.

Dr. Jack W. Hayford is the senior pastor of The Church On The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, and the author of many successful books, including Come...and Behold Him!, The Beauty of Spiritual Language and The Heart of Praise. He also has composed over four hundred songs, hymns, and other musical works, including the widely sung "Majesty."

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