John gives us an inside look at an amazing moment that was reserved for Jesus’ closest friends. He came, He spoke peace — not just with words but with the power of His Spirit — and He gave a promise of forgiveness.
On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-23
From now on, they could live forgiven and forgiving ALL the time – not by going through some other person, a special sacrifice, or a particular ritual. When the pain of sin stung their heart, they could trust God’s forgiveness – for themselves and for those who sinned against them. Forgiveness is an amazing gift!
Everyone was so excited and full of hope! All but one . . .
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
Be he said to them, “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 it.” John 20:24-25
Thomas missed Jesus’ visit. In the middle of this confusing time for Jesus’ friends, their Master appeared to bring peace and hope . . . and Thomas missed it!
It’s crushing to be left out, not being “IN” on the action.
I wonder how many in this room feel the way Thomas felt that day?
- Maybe you’ve have known ABOUT Jesus a long time. You learned the words to “Jesus Loves Me” growing up, you know John 3:16, but your head and your heart aren’t connected in faith.
- You may feel left out of the action around here. The songs are new, the study is challenging, we say words and phrases that don’t seem familiar.
I imagine in a group like this — a mid-week gathering of women from all age groups, life stages and spiritual experiences — some may not understand in a personal way what it means to know God as YOUR Savior, to know His gift of forgiveness from the inside out.
I lived many years as a Jesus-follower without being very excited about it. I read my Bible, learned stacks of verses, studied, showed up! But I had a nagging feeling I’d missed something about Jesus that other people seemed to know with clarity and confidence.
I was a lot like Thomas when he asked for proof, “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 it.”
We find out what happened next in John 20:26-29:
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 them 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.”
Why did Jesus give Thomas what he asked for?
- Couldn’t he have struck him speechless (like Zechariah)?
- Couldn’t he have called him unbelieving (like the Pharisees)?
- Couldn’t he have just left him out . . . like so many who didn’t see his resurrected body?
Why did Jesus come for me?
- Couldn’t he have waited for me to get my act together?
- Couldn’t he have let me suffer as an outsider?
What does Jesus offer those of us who feel left out?
“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put in into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
- He doesn’t show up toting the tombstone under His arm to show He rolled it away.
- He doesn’t wear His grave clothes draped like a cape to prove He’s alive.
- He reveals his glorified body which still bears the scars of His suffering.
By His stripes we are healed, predicted Isaiah . . . not by His miracles, not by His sermons, not by His parables.
Because He suffered, and was pierced for our sinfulness, we can be healed and whole.
Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
That’s us, friends! We have NOT put our finger in his scarred hand or slid our hand into the hole in his side.
We are left with the choice to believe or not believe that our God is a God who saves . . . that Jesus really did suffer and die so we might live . . . so we might see Him face to face.
The Spirit of God compels me to ask you today . . . have you believed?
You may have been joining us for a few weeks, or a few years, and you notice there is something different here. But you still feel like an outsider, like you missed the big reveal and Jesus hasn’t shown up for you YET.
Might today be the day you stop doubting and start believing?
If it is, pray from your whole heart a prayer much like this:
God of heaven, have mercy on me a sinner. In my heart, I have doubted your goodness and lived for myself. In my life, I have sinned against You and against others. I cannot save myself. Only Jesus, Your Son who was without sin but became sin for me, can be my Savior. I humbly accept His offer of salvation today. Help me walk in newness of life. Amen.