On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We often hear statistics on religion and religious belief in our world today. Not too many years ago a survey was conducted, and the statisticians revealed that among a cross section of folks who identified themselves as church members (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians) twenty-five percent of them had doubts about the existence of God. The survey discovered that among the Jews who answered the survey, six of ten respondents doubted God's existence.
Yep. These are folks who say they "belong" to a religious group. They attend church, or they attend services at the synagogue. They give to the ministries and they give of their own time. But . . .
They have doubts.
If their church, or a stranger, were to ask them "do you believe?" they might reply: "I have a hard time accepting that."
Do you believe it? Do I believe it?
Well, not everyone does.
Sometimes, not even those who sit in the same row with us at church believe.
Kinda counter-intuitive, no?
For these people to have trouble believing that God exists?
John, the writer of this gospel, would be so amazed. After all, he uses the Greek word "pisteuo" (which my commentary says means "to believe") almost twice as often as the other three gospels combined. And when we began this study, we noted that he wrote, in order to show people the truth, so that they could believe, they could "get it." He wanted us to realize that Jesus was the Son of God, and that He came for a reason and accomplished His purpose.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of
living water will flow from within him. (John 7:38)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will
live, even though he dies. (John 11:25)
If you do not believe that I AM you will indeed die in your sins.
So, when John asks us, "Believe it?" he isn't bluffing. And he isn't writing about something that he didn't believe himself.
He had been with Jesus, and listened to Him teaching the multitudes. He had watched Him heal the sick. And he had seen Him die, and seen that He'd risen from the grave.
John is declaring to us -- faith is essential if you are going to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.
But let's switch gears just a bit. For all of John's hard work in hammering home the issue of faith, his is the only gospel that tells us the story of Thomas.
Thomas was a lot like John; he had been one of the disciples and walked with Jesus. He had listened to His teachings and loved Him. He went with Him wherever He went.
Remember when Jesus said He was going to Jerusalem, and it was obvious to all that the people there wanted to kill Him. Thomas's response was "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:16)
From that, to "I'm not sure I can accept that."
Or what is it that we are not seeing here?
We'll study this more next time. I hope you will join us.