THE RISEN LORD OFFERS US THE OPPORTUNITY TO BELIEVE BEFORE WE SEE
Not talking about blind faith here; look at all of the evidence that has been presented to the Deity and Lordship of Christ throughout the Gospel of John. Significant that Thomas was absent when the Lord first appeared to His disciples. He did not have the same response to the testimony of Mary that the others did.
Goettsche: Over the course of time you have undoubtedly had a nickname or used a nickname for someone else. Some nicknames become so associated with someone that they are as well known by their nickname (or better) as by their real name. If we talked about “The Duke” you would think of John Wayne. In the music world if you talked about “the King” you would be referring to Elvis Presley. In sports if you talk about “His Air-ness” or “MJ” you are talking about Michael Jordan. “Magic” would refer to Earvin Johnson. “Sweetness” to Walter Payton., “Samurai” refers to Mike Singletary.
The Bible has several people we know by their nicknames. There is John “The Baptist”, Peter “The Rock”, John “The disciple Jesus Loved”, Jeremiah the “weeping prophet”, James and John….the “Sons of Thunder”, the “Woman Caught in “Adultery”, Judas “the traitor”, and of course “Doubting Thomas”.
I. (:19-23) THE DISCIPLES BELIEVED THE TESTIMONY OF MARY AND REJOICED WHEN THEY SAW THE PIERCED HANDS AND SIDE OF THEIR LORD
A. (:19-20) Jesus Showed Himself to His Hiding Disciples to Energize Them For Their Mission
1. (:19a) The Disciples Needed Encouragement for their Faith
“When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews”
– They did not have to wait long – that very evening
– They were believing, but still fearful
– From Luke 24 it would seem that the Lord gently rebukes them that their faith in the testimony of the eyewitnesses should have been stronger.
MacArthur: Now, the disciples were afraid. They were in the room shivering in terror, expecting that at any minute the Temple police would knock on the door and get them.
2. (:19b) Jesus’ Initial Message is Always One of Peace and Reassurance
“Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
3. (:20) Joy is Always the Response of Faith That Has Been Rewarded with Sight
“And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and his side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”
B. (:21-23) Jesus Sent His Disciples Out Empowered by the Holy Spirit to Transact Eternal Business
1. (:21) The Great Commission Carries the Promise of God’s Presence and Authority
“Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’”
2. (:22) The Divine Presence and the Divine Power is Mediated by the Gift of the Indwelling Holy Spirit
“And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Was this merely symbolic and anticipatory of the actual coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost??
3. (:23) What is at Stake = Forgiveness of Sins
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
II. (:24-25) THOMAS DOUBTED THE ADDED TESTIMONY OF HIS SPIRITUAL BRETHREN AND REQUIRED SEEING AS A PREREQUISITE TO BELIEVING
A. (:24) Doubting Thomas was MIA (Missing in Action)
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”
Should we attribute his absence to some deficiency of faith in comparison to the other disciples? Difficult to say.
Pink: The state of Thomas’ soul coincided with his absence on that memorable evening. He resisted the blessedness of the resurrection, and therefore did not join his brethren, and thus share the joy of the Master’s presence in their midst. Slow of heart to believe, he remained for a whole week in darkness and gloom. One important lesson we may learn from this is, how much we lose by our failure to cultivate the fellowship of Christian brethren.
B. (:25a) Doubting Thomas Rejected the Testimony of His Spiritual Brethren
“The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’”
C. (:25b) Doubting Thomas Required Seeing as a Prerequisite to Believing
“But he said to them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Stedman: Thomas is more than a doubter, however. He is determined not to believe. Notice how he puts it, “Unless I see in his hands the prints of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not [not, I cannot] believe.” He is stubbornly saying, in effect, “The evidence has to be what I decide it has to be, or I will not believe.” This is characteristic of Thomas. He is a born pessimist, the type who would look at a glass half-filled with water and say it was half-empty. Later, when Jesus does appear, he rebukes Thomas for being faithless. By deliberate choice Thomas rejects the evidence. All his trusted brothers and sisters in the Lord tell him they have seen Jesus face to face — they have even touched him and felt him — but Thomas rejects this and refuses to believe until he personally examines the evidence.
III. (:26-29) JESUS PATIENTLY PROVIDES ABUNDANT EVIDENCE BUT PREFERS AN AGGRESSIVE FAITH (THAT BELIEVES BEFORE IT SEES)
A. (:26) Repeat Performance
“And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them, Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”
B. (:27) Patient Exhortation: See and Believe
“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.’”
C. (:28) Appropriate Confession of Faith
“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
D. (:29) Praiseworthy Faith: Believe before Seeing
“Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’”