In John 20:19-30, we find the disciples behind locked doors after the crucifixion of Jesus. This passage relates the disciples’ first encounter with the resurrected Jesus. Ultimately, it is a true story about overcoming fear and doubt to discover genuine joy in Jesus’s presence.
What the World Gives Us:
- Fear (Verse 19: The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.)
- Doubt (Verse 25: Thomas would not believe until he saw Jesus, scars and all, for himself.)
What Jesus Gives Us:
- Peace (Verses 19, 21, 26: Three times Jesus says, “Peace be with you!”)
- Joy (Verse 20: Jesus’s presence in our life results in joy to overflowing.)
- Calling & Commission (Verse 21: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”)
- The Holy Spirit (Verse 22: Jesus inside of us.)
- Power (Verse 23, Implied: An equipping to do God’s work.)
- Belief (Verse 27: The substance of faith that crushes doubt.)
- Personal relationship with God (Verse 28: “My Lord and my God!”)
- Life (Verse 31: Life in Jesus is for the present and carries into eternity.)
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 then and said, “Peace be with you!” 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.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Lots of surprises on our Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan trip: two stand out because I would not have believed it unless I saw it with my own eyes. As we drove through the middle of nowhere in the middle of the U.P., I glimpsed a roadside sign advertising Amish built furniture. My first thought was sarcasm, “Yeah right.” Just another shameless marketing ploy as there are not any Amish in the U.P. I would know because I lived here for 22 years. Literally one minute later, I passed a horse-drawn Amish carriage trotting along the shoulder of the road. Apparently, there is at least one family. Along a different stretch of road headed to the Porcupine Mountains, my husband and I looked at each other and with an incredulous voice asked, “Did you see what I think I just saw?” We stopped the car, did a U-turn and parked to take a picture: the picture at the beginning of this post. Yes, there really was a roadside sign indicating that cows may be beamed up to an alien space ship. Seeing is believing. (Well, just the part about the sign existing, not the whole alien thing. But then again, there were no cows in sight!) It is human nature to have to see something first to truly believe it, especially the more far-fetched the idea seems to our human senses. One of Jesus’s closest friends did not, could not believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Until he saw and touched the resurrected Jesus for himself. We are like Thomas. We tend to base our reality on our comprehension. Jesus came to earth to challenge that belief system and to help us forge a faith of eternal value in him. Like Thomas, once we have a personal encounter with Jesus, we find it easier to believe. Believe that Jesus was fully man, but never sinned. Believe that Jesus’s death on the cross was the sacrifice for our sins. Believe that Jesus conquered death for all of us at the cross. Believe that God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us. But there is one thing better than seeing and believing. It is enjoying a genuine relationship with Jesus. For this relationship alone changes what we can see and gives us so much more to believe in.
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
1 Peter 1:8-9
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believed in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.