"Shadow of a Doubt"
November 23, 2013
Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." John 20:27
We've all heard the expression, "He was innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt."
A shadow of a doubt. About 70 years ago, a man in San Francisco was on trial for murder. Things didn't look good, which is why his lawyer became creative. In his final remarks, the attorney said, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you have the slightest doubt you must find my client not guilty of murder. This is why I am bringing in my final witness. I have found the real murderer, and he is sequestered outside the courtroom. I now ask the police to bring him in through the side door."
Eyes swung towards the door. No one came in.
After a reasonable period, the lawyer concluded: "The fact that you looked at that door proves you have a doubt." The jury considered the case and, within the hour, came back with a guilty verdict.
The judge passed sentence, and the lawyer angrily turned to the jury. He challenged, "You looked at the door! You had a doubt!" The jury's foreman stood up and replied, "Sir, when most people looked towards the door, most of us watched your client. He didn't look towards that door because he knew no one was coming through. Why? Because he's the guilty one."
That's a grand story, isn't it? The idea of a smart guy getting caught in his own shadow-of-a-doubt trap appeals to most of us. Even so, most people believe that in this world nothing is absolutely sure, nothing is completely certain. No matter how solid the facts may seem, we feel there must always be room for a little bit of doubt.
That gets tiring. If you feel that way about everything, it's like living your life walking through a mine field. You never know if you can trust yourself to take another step. It might be safe; it might be disastrous. What is the truth? They don't know! They're not sure!
That kind of uncertainty and doubt can eat a person alive.
Of course, Jesus knew people are naturally untrusting and skeptical. I think that's why, after He rose from the dead, He did so many physical things. Think about it:
* He breathed on the disciples, which meant He had lungs.
* He broke bread and fried fish, which meant He had muscles.
* He let Mary and the women at the tomb touch Him, which meant He was more than a figment of their imaginations and mourning hearts.
* Of course, there is the ultimate: He offered Thomas the chance to explore His wounds.
So why do I tell you all this? Simple. Most of us will experience that place in time, that moment in our lives when we will wonder did Jesus really live, die, and rise for us? At that moment we will have a shadow of a doubt.
When that moment comes, put the doubt away. Jesus was really dead; He is really alive and -- because of Him -- you are really forgiven and saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. In the Name of my Savior I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries