Harmony of the Gospels

 HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS

(8) Jesus Appears to the Disciples With Thomas

Scripture: John 20:26-31


Tom Lowe

10/21/2008

 

The Lord tenderly deals with our doubts and unbelief. We today cannot see Him or feel His wounds, but we have the Word of God to assure us. When your faith falters, do not ask for signs. Open His Word and let Him reassure you.


Date: one week after Jesus’ visit to disciples, without Thomas
Location: Jerusalem

KEY VERSE: John 20: “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”  


26 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.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


26 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.

Eight days later [that would be the first day of the week in this case]; Thomas received the answer to his unbelieving heart that would change him forever. It was on the second Sunday after the resurrection; the second Lord's Day in the history of the world. The disciples were once again locked together inside the same room where the first encounter occurred, protecting themselves from the Jewish leadership. Jesus again appeared in a miraculous way and saluted them with the traditional Jewish greeting, “Shalom” (“Peace to you!”)! He came in the same manner and with the same salutation as previously, giving Thomas an opportunity for believing.

Thomas, whose name means “twin” was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, but he was absent at the first meeting with their risen Master. When Christ rose from the dead, he was the apostle that was the most skeptical. His Aramaic name is Didymus which in Greek means “twin.”

Each appearance of Jesus to the apostles happened on Sunday, the first day of the week. From this it appears that very early on they set apart Sunday for assembling together, and Jesus showed that He approved it by appearing twice with them. It was natural that the apostles should observe this day, but not probable that they would do it without the approval of the Lord Jesus. His repeated presence gave such an approval, and the historical fact is indisputable that from this time, Sunday was observed as the Christian Sabbath (Acts 20:7[1] ; 1 Corinthians 16:2[2] , Revelation 1:10[3] ).

27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither[4]  thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Thomas must have been awestruck, rendered absolutely speechless. Jesus addressed him directly, inviting him to examine His body for the evidence that would confirm that this was really Jesus.
This was the one that Thomas had traveled with for three years. When Jesus seemed intent on going to Jerusalem, despite the threats to his personal safety, Thomas had resigned himself to inevitable death: “Thomas, who was called Didymus, said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let’s go so that we, too, can die with Jesus’” (John 11:16).

Thomas was not afraid of the cost of discipleship. Like Peter, he was willing to die for his Lord. But, like the others, he had fled on that night when the soldiers arrested Jesus. He still carried his burden of guilt and shame for so quickly abandoning his Lord. He must have been overwhelmed when Jesus said, “Stop doubting, and believe.” To believe that all of this terrible past could be reversed, to believe that death was not the end, was too much for Thomas to accept.

Turning to the skeptical Thomas, he asks him to apply the tests that he had declared would be necessary before he could believe: “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side” (see verse 25[5]).

His compassion for the unbelief of Thomas shows the patient tenderness of the Savior with the difficulties of an honest seeker.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Thomas now recognizes both the resurrection and the deity of Christ; however he based his faith on sight. Christ promises a blessing for those who believe upon hearing, instead of upon seeing.

That Thomas did not do what Jesus invited him to do, and what he had made the condition of his believing, seems plain from John 20:29 ("Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed"). He is overpowered, and the glory of Christ now breaks upon him in a flood. His exclamation surpasses all the others that had been uttered, and it can’t be surpassed by anything that ever will be uttered in earth or heaven.

Whether he ever did put his hand into the Lord’s side, we do not know. But he knew at last that Jesus was risen and that He was both Lord and God. John Boys puts it nicely: “He acknowledged the divinity he did not see by the wounds he did see.” The evidence could not be denied. Here it was right in front of his own eyes. Rather, here Jesus was, standing in front of him, asking him to look closely and inviting him to believe the reality that presented itself to his doubting mind and heart. Only one response could erase the days of confusion and doubt from Thomas’ mind. His confession before all those present brought him to his knees; “My Lord and my God!” Jesus was everything that He said He was—and more! Alive again! Alive forevermore! Thomas bowed before the irrefutable evidence of Jesus Christ and worshiped Him.

In this passage the name God is expressly given to Christ, in his own presence and by one of his own apostles. This declaration has been considered as a clear proof of the divinity of Christ, for the following reasons:
1. There is no evidence that this was a mere expression of surprise or astonishment, as some have proposed.
2. The language was addressed to Jesus himself: "Thomas…said UNTO HIM."
3. The Savior did not reprimand him or stop him for using any improper language. If he had not been divine, it is impossible to reconcile it with his honesty that he did not rebuke the disciple. No pious man would have allowed such language to be addressed to him.
4. The Savior proceeds immediately to commend Thomas for believing; but what was the evidence of his believing? It was this declaration and this only. If this was a mere exclamation of surprise, what proof was it that Thomas believed? Before this he doubted. Now he believed, and gave utterance to his belief, that Jesus was his Lord and his God. . [We have here the first confession that Christ is God. It should be said in Thomas' favor that if his doubts were the greatest, his confession of faith was the fullest. He had no more doubts as to the resurrection because it meant more to him; it meant that Jesus was none other than God himself.]
5. If this was not the meaning of Thomas, then his exclamation was a mere act of profaneness, and the Savior would not have commended him for taking the name of the Lord his God in vain. The passage proves, therefore, that it is proper to apply to Christ the name Lord and GOD, and this supports what John affirmed in John 1:1[6] , and which is established throughout this gospel.
Thomas now recognizes both the resurrection and the deity of Christ. Thomas based his faith on sight; however, Christ promises a blessing for those who believe upon hearing instead of upon seeing.

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Jesus commended Thomas for his faith. Thomas had doubted the witness of many others, but the sight of his risen Lord erased all questions from his mind. The veil of darkness that had clouded his mind had been lifted, and now the blinding light of Jesus’ presence could no longer be denied.

With these words, Jesus also provided encouragement to the faithful disciples, both in His own day and for all the centuries to come. Sight is not a prerequisite to belief. However, acceptance of the testimony of those who have seen, as recorded in the gospels, is required. In them we see Jesus as the one and only Son of God, sacrificed for the sin of the world. We, along with all the faithful, see the risen Lord and exclaim with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas “saw” (he did not need to handle) and believed. We have not seen, but nevertheless believe upon the same Lord. Upon us he pronounces a special blessedness, because we walk by faith instead of sight.

The important thing to notice is that Jesus accepted worship as God. If He were only a man, He should have refused it. The surest evidence is the Word of God. If God says a thing, we honor Him by believing it; but we dishonor Him by demanding additional evidence. We should believe simply because He said it and because He cannot lie or be mistaken. All faith is in things not seen; and God blesses those most that most totally rely on His word.

If Jesus were speaking to Thomas in the language of today, He may have worded His statement like this: “You have seen, and therefore you have believed, and now you are blessed; you are now happy—fully convinced of my resurrection; yet all those who believe in my resurrection, without the evidence you have had are blessed more than you are." From this we learn that to believe in Jesus, on the testimony of his apostles, will put a man into the possession of the very same blessedness which they themselves enjoyed. And so God established grace, so that a believer living at two thousand years' distance from the time of the resurrection is not hindered in any way because he has not seen Christ in the flesh.

Reader! Christ died for you!—believe, and you will be saved, and become as blessed and as happy as an apostle.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

The “other miracles that Jesus did” refer to miracles other than those mentioned in this passage; that is, miracles other than Christ's entering into the house in a miraculous manner twice, with the doors locked.
Not all that occurred, either before or after the resurrection, is recorded in John’s gospel; there is much more about Jesus than we will ever know. The Holy Spirit selected those events which would best serve His purpose. Each of the evangelists records some features that the others omit, and they each reveal the fact that they only outline the wonderful story.

31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Here we have John’s object in writing the book. The whole point of the book is to accomplish two things:
1. To prove that Jesus was the Messiah.
2. That those who looked at the proof might be convinced and have eternal life.

The things John has written have one overriding goal. They were written so that the reader could come to the same conclusion that all of the evidence has supported; the reality—Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. They were written so that the reader could join the men who did walk with Jesus for those three years. John urges his readers to join in a confession of faith in Jesus, the Messiah, the one appointed and anointed by God. The result for all who believe is to have new life in His name. This objective is kept in view throughout the book. The miracles, facts, arguments, instructions, and conversations of our Lord are all inclined to this end. If this propose of John is kept in mind when reading his gospel, it will throw a great deal of light on the book.

What is it that we are to believe? It is that Jesus is the promised Messiah; that he really suffered and rose again from the dead; and that through him every believer might have life, “eternal life.”

The aim of all the gospel writers is the same; to reveal Jesus in a way that will produce faith in Him. He is the one object of belief. He is the Christian's creed. Faith in him, a faith that takes him as the Christ, saves the soul. All who have such faith wrought by the word of God and through the actions of the Holy Spirit will “have life through his name.”

__________________________Scripture Reference_________________________


  [1]And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. 

  [2]Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 

  [3]I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 

  [4]here: to this place

  [5]“The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas is to be blamed for his unbelieving attitude. He must have visible, tangible proof of the Lord’s resurrection; otherwise he will not believe. This is the attitude of many today, but it is not reasonable. Even scientists believe many things that they can neither see nor touch.

  [6]In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

Do you have any questions or comments?

 An interesting statement against abortion surrounds the Advent of Christ. In Luke 1:44, the gospel-writing physician used the Greek word brephus to describe the baby (John the Baptist) who leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary shared the news that she was pregnant. Just one chapter later in Luke 2:12, 16, the good doctor uses the same word brephus to describe the newborn Savior lying in a manger. Through the inspiration of Scripture, God has provided another reminder that life in the womb is nothing less than life outside of the womb.

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