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Believe and Be Blessed

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JOHN 20:24-29

BBC APRIL 15, 2007 BELIEVE AND BE BLESSED PT III JOHN 20

JESUS APPEARS TO THOMAS

24 ONE OF THE TWELVE DISCIPLES, THOMAS (NICKNAMED THE TWIN),* WAS NOT WITH THE OTHERS WHEN JESUS CAME. 25 THEY TOLD HIM, “WE HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”

BUT HE REPLIED, “I WON’T BELIEVE IT UNLESS I SEE THE NAIL WOUNDS IN HIS HANDS, PUT MY FINGERS INTO THEM, AND PLACE MY HAND INTO THE WOUND IN HIS SIDE.”

26 EIGHT DAYS LATER THE DISCIPLES WERE TOGETHER AGAIN, AND THIS TIME THOMAS WAS WITH THEM. THE DOORS WERE LOCKED; BUT SUDDENLY, AS BEFORE, JESUS WAS STANDING AMONG THEM. “PEACE BE WITH YOU,” HE SAID. 27 THEN HE SAID TO THOMAS, “PUT YOUR FINGER HERE, AND LOOK AT MY HANDS. PUT YOUR HAND INTO THE WOUND IN MY SIDE. DON’T BE FAITHLESS ANY LONGER. BELIEVE!”

28 “MY LORD AND MY GOD!” THOMAS EXCLAIMED.

29 THEN JESUS TOLD HIM, “YOU BELIEVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE SEEN ME. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING ME.”

[1]

F I WERE TO MENTION THE NAMES OF CERTAIN DISCIPLES TO YOU AND ASK YOU TO

WRITE DOWN THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES INTO YOUR MIND, IT IS UNLIKELY YOU

WOULD COME UP WITH THE SAME WORDS. IF I WERE TO MENTION THE NAME OF JUDAS

MANY OF YOU WOULD WRITE DOWN THE WORD "BETRAY" BUT NOT ALL OF YOU.

IF I WERE TO MENTION SIMON PETER, SOME OF YOU WOULD WRITE DOWN THE WORD

"FAITH," BUT NOT ALL OF YOU. IF I WERE TO MENTION THE NAMES OF JAMES AND

JOHN, SOME OF YOU WOULD WRITE DOWN THE PHRASE "SONS OF THUNDER," BUT NOT

ALL OF YOU. BUT WHEN I MENTION THE WORD THOMAS, THERE IS LITTLE QUESTION

ABOUT THE WORD MOST EVERYONE WOULD WRITE DOWN. IT WOULD BE THE WORD DOUBT.

INDEED, SO CLOSELY HAVE WE ASSOCIATED THOMAS WITH THIS WORD, THAT WE HAVE

COINED A PHRASE TO DESCRIBE HIM: "DOUBTING THOMAS."

YOU MAY BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THAT IN THE FIRST THREE GOSPELS WE ARE TOLD

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL ABOUT THOMAS. IT IS IN JOHN'S GOSPEL THAT HE

EMERGES AS A DISTINCT PERSONALITY, BUT EVEN THEN THERE ARE ONLY 155 WORDS

ABOUT HIM. THERE IS NOT A LOT ABOUT THIS DISCIPLE IN THE BIBLE BUT THERE

IS MORE THAN ONE DESCRIPTION.

WHEN JESUS TURNED HIS FACE TOWARD JERUSALEM THE DISCIPLES THOUGHT THAT IT

WOULD BE CERTAIN DEATH FOR ALL OF THEM. SURPRISINGLY, IT WAS THOMAS WHO

SAID: THEN LET US GO SO THAT WE MAY DIE WITH HIM. IT WAS A COURAGEOUS

STATEMENT, YET WE DON'T REMEMBER HIM FOR THAT. WE ALSO FAIL TO POINT OUT

THAT IN THIS STORY OF THOMAS' DOUBT WE HAVE THE ONE PLACE IN THE ALL THE

GOSPELS WHERE THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST IS BLUNTLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY STATED.

IT IS INTERESTING, IS IT NOT, THAT THE STORY THAT GIVES THOMAS HIS

INFAMOUS NICKNAME, IS THE SAME STORY THAT HAS THOMAS MAKING AN EARTH

SHATTERING CONFESSION OF FAITH? LOOK AT HIS CONFESSION, "MY LORD, AND MY

GOD." NOT TEACHER. NOT LORD. NOT MESSIAH. BUT GOD! IT IS THE ONLY PLACE

WHERE JESUS IS CALLED GOD WITHOUT QUALIFICATION OF ANY KIND. IT IS UTTERED

WITH CONVICTION AS IF THOMAS WAS SIMPLY RECOGNIZING A FACT, JUST AS 2 + 2

= 4, AND THE SUN IS IN THE SKY. YOU ARE MY LORD AND MY GOD! THESE ARE

CERTAINLY NOT THE WORDS OF A DOUBTER.

UNFORTUNATELY HISTORY HAS REMEMBERED HIM FOR THIS SCENE WHERE THE

RESURRECTED CHRIST MADE AN APPEARANCE TO THE DISCIPLES IN A HOME IN

JERUSALEM. THOMAS WAS NOT PRESENT AND WHEN HE HEARD ABOUT THE EVENT HE

REFUSED TO BELIEVE IT. MAYBE HE WAS THE FORERUNNER OF MODERN DAY CYNICISM.

MAYBE THE NEWS SIMPLY SOUNDED TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. THOMAS SAID: UNLESS I

FEEL THE NAIL PRINTS IN HIS HANDS I WILL NOT BELIEVE.

NOW I CANNOT HELP BUT NOTICE THAT THOMAS HAS SEPARATED HIMSELF FROM THE

DISCIPLES AND THEREFORE, IN HIS SOLITUDE, MISSED THE RESURRECTION

APPEARANCE. I THINK THAT JOHN IS SUGGESTING TO US THAT CHRIST APPEARS MOST

OFTEN WITHIN THE COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS THAT WE CALL THE CHURCH, AND WHEN

WE SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM THE CHURCH WE TAKE A CHANCE ON MISSING HIS

UNIQUE PRESENCE.

BUT THE STORY DOESN'T END HERE. THE SECOND TIME JESUS MADE HIS APPEARANCE

THOMAS WAS PRESENT WITH THE DISCIPLES AND THIS TIME HE TOO WITNESSED THE

EVENT. THIS TIME HE BELIEVED. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE LIFE OF THOMAS?

1. JESUS DID NOT BLAME HIM.

2. THE MOST ENDEARING THINGS IN LIFE CAN NEVER BE PROVEN.

3. WE MUST MOVE BEYOND DOUBT TO FAITH.

THE STORY OF DOUBTING THOMAS

WHY DID THOMAS DOUBT THE GOOD NEWS

AFTER HE WALKED WITH JESUS FOR THREE YEARS

AFTER HE TALKED WITH JESUS FOR THREE YEARS

AFTER HE LIVED WITH JESUS FOR THREE YEARS

AFTER SO MANY ACCOUNTS FROM RELIABLE PEOPLE?


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[1]Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Jn 20:24-29

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