Reading through the Bible together
This chapter reveals the friends of Jesus seeing and believing. John “saw and believed” just by looking into the empty tomb (v. 8). Mary “saw Jesus” (v.14) and with her heart she clung to Him but was not allowed to touch Him (v.17). Then she reported to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” (v.18). As Jesus appeared to the disciples with the greeting of peace, “He showed them His hands and side” (v.20), as proof that He was not a ghost or imagination, but a real PERSON. They were “overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (v.20). Again, as an affirmation of peace and the missional reminder, He said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (v.21). With that He breathed on them the Holy Spirit. Thomas missed being there, so they told him, “We have seen the Lord!” but he said, “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” (v.25).
A week later, another prayer meeting and Jesus shows up again with the same comforting affirmation of “Peace be with you!” (v.26). He was now in the house with them and “stood among them” (v.27) – right at the center of their gathering. Isn’t it great that Jesus comes into the central places where we gather in His name? This time He appears for Thomas’ benefit and says, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and touch the wound in my side. Stop doubting and believe” (v.27). Thomas has an amazing reply, “My Lord and my God!” (v.28). Twice he said “My” indicating a lively and earnest faith. Remember his courage, he was the one ready to join Jesus on the suicide mission back to Judea (John 11:16)? In saying, “My Lord and My God,” Thomas gives the loftiest title that can come from human lips. Ever since, this has been the central Christological affirmation of the living church. The resurrected Lord is God! The Son is honored just as the Father (John 5:23).
But faith does not finally rest on sight, nor on smell or touch, but on the word and call of the risen Lord! As John went to the tomb and believed before he saw the risen Lord, so we can believe and trust in the witness of those who have seen and believed, and be blessed (v.29). John boldly shares his testimony for writing his Gospel, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have eternal life in His name.”
Do you truly believe without seeing? “We live by faith, not by sight!” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Christopher Bullock, M. Div.
Pastor in Atlanta, Georgia
North American Division