- Build My Life
- From Doubting to Believing
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Jesus and Thomas
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twinc), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believed that Jesus is the Messiah,e the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.Doubt gets a bad name. Thomas gets remembered only for his doubt. Rough combo for an important dude.I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING -image and soundclip.But doubt is not all bad. Without doubt we can’t move on from bad information and wrong belief. We really can’t grow in our faith without coming to the end of immature faith.What is faith? What does it mean to believe?
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”First, it involves a decision. The way human beings are built we can always question something. It’s part of what helps us survive in a fallen world. But there comes a time when doubting, although a live option, is no longer in our best interests. So we should continue seeking even in the midst of doubt.“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of DiscipleshipSecondly, it is a gift. Part of how the disciples are able to believe comes from being together in the presence of Jesus. It’s not so much about the physical address as it is about the purpose of the gathering. Jesus breathed his last on the cross, his life returning to God in an eternal prayer of faith: into thy hands I commit my spirit. But the Father and Spirit breathed it back into his human form as he rose again, restored to life. He then breathed on them: receive the Holy Spirit! See the beautiful cycle of breathing in and out. God originally breathed the breath of life into humanity. Now he can breath on us in a new way, bringing new life in the Holy Spirit! That’s good stuff. Thomas wasn’t there so he missed it.Can we accidently miss a move of God? Well I don’t want us to be in a state of anxiety or legalism about it. Jesus is always present in every human life. But he’s a gentleman. He takes his cue from us. The life of faith is robust in many ways. But it’s also fragile. It’s always growing or dying, it’s never static. We need to feed and water it. We need to avoid isolation if we want to thrive. If we only feed our doubt—if you take a steady diet of HBO and Netflix originals your faith will be challenged. Am I saying don’t take in any entertainments? No. I’m saying do it in moderation. And keep faith affirming things a regular part of your schedule. I don’t think Thomas stayed home to binge watch Narcos, but if he did it probably wouldn’t make him love Jesus more. Worship regularly. Gather with believing friends often. That’s one of the lessons of this passage.But for all the trouble we give to Thomas for remembering when he wasn’t there and didn’t believe, let’s remember how shocking all this was. Thomas may have been skeptical, wanting to make sure no one was taking advantage of the disciples. Maybe the disciples went to his house and picked them up. One of them had an SUV with a third row. Maybe he was already there waiting for them when they arrived. All we know for sure is the next Sunday he was there with them and Jesus showed up big time.
The scene in which Thomas extends his hand to touch the Lord became a favorite theme for later artists. Nevertheless it is unlikely that Thomas did any such thing; otherwise the Evangelist would have made the point that Thomas became convinced when he touched the body of the risen Lord. But v 29 speaks only of Thomas seeing the Lord. The impression given by the narrative is that Thomas was overwhelmed by the appearance of the Lord and his words to him, and without any further demonstration he burst out with his confession.Seeing is believing sometimes. Having eyes to see and being in the right place and time to see. The disciples could not convince him in regular conversation talking “about it”. All they could do was testify and try to remain in relationship with Thomas. Thankfully they did.So it comes about that the most outrageous doubter of the resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of the Lord who rose from the dead. His utterance does not simply acknowledge the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, but expresses its ultimate meaning, i.e., as revelation of who Jesus is. Yet it is not an abstract theological definition concerning the person of Christ. The personal pronoun is of vital importance “my Lord, and my God.”Beasley-Murray, G. R. (2002). John (Vol. 36, pp. 385–386). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”He’s talking about us. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe...” Today we have an opportunity to let Jesus breath on us. Today we have the opportunity to except Jesus’ invitation:Do not doubt, but believe. Doubt may have served you to get you to this point. But now it’s time to make the turn. Jesus is here. Real faith is here. Love is here. Are you ready to believe?44 Then he said to them, ‘This is what I was talking to you about when I was still with you. Everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and the psalms, had to be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Bible.Wright, T. (2004). Luke for Everyone (p. 299). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.44 Then he said to them, ‘This is what I was talking to you about when I was still with you. Everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and the psalms, had to be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Bible.Wright, T. (2004). Luke for Everyone (p. 299). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
44 Then he said to them, ‘This is what I was talking to you about when I was still with you. Everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and the psalms, had to be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Bible.
Luke’s closing scene, for all its joy and excitement, brings into focus for us the real problem of what happened at Easter. What sort of a body did Jesus have? How could it at the same time be solid and real, with flesh and bones, able to eat baked fish, and to demonstrate that it wasn’t a ghost—and also to appear and disappear apparently at will, and at the end to be carried into heaven? Just what sort of a body are we talking about?
But if our minds are still reeling from trying to take all this in—and it seems, not surprisingly, as though that’s how the disciples were too—then what Jesus has to say in his last days with them is very practical, and points the way to the whole mission of the church. People often ask me, What, after all, is the point of Jesus dying and rising again? It’s no doubt very nice for him to be alive again, but what does it have to do with the rest of us?
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