The Gospel of John, The Period of Consummation, Part XXIII, John 20:21-29 - Lesson 200
Read Verses John 20:19,20, for review: Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
John 20:21, Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
John 20:22,23 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
It is clear from scripture that only God can forgive sins.
Therefore this cannot be power given to the disciples to forgive sin.
But by being given the ministry of reconciliation they now have power to proclaim the forgiveness of sin.
They are entrusted with the good news of the Gospel and inherent in that good news is bad news to those who receive not the good news.
That is what "whose soever sins ye retain they are retained" means!
The disciples were given authority to declare that those who believe have their sins remitted, and those who do not believe have their sins retained.
The disciples are here given the authority to declare what God does when a man either accepts or rejects His Son.
Any preacher of the Gospel can, by this authority of Jesus Christ, speak this message with authority and is not to be timid about it.
Peter fully understood this when he preached this in:
Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
And Paul also in: Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
John 20:24,25, But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Thomas, pronounced , tho‑mas in Aramaic means twin and the word Didymus, (did'‑oo‑mos) means double or twin in Greek.
Most likely a connection with the word ditto which means to repeat.
John does not tell us why Thomas was not with the disciples on this important occasion.
But some passages in John's Gospel reveal a pattern in Thomas's life.
Remember the passage concerning the raising of Lazarus in John 11:16, when .... Thomas, which is called Didymus, (said) unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Thomas also seemed to be quite negative as he asked the Lord in John 14:5,.... Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
He had a complex personality that revealed a pessimism mixed with loyalty and faith.
He seemed to be a gloomy man who looked on the dark side of things.
Perhaps he isolated himself from the other disciples so that he could be be despondent alone.
A pessimistic man expects the worst and had not the worst come?
His pessimism was rewarded!
Had not his Master suffered the death of the cross.
Notice in this passage how Thomas dwelt on the print of the nails and the wounds of the Lord.
He did not want to be around people who had the same hope in Jesus Christ that he had had.
Hopes that in his mind had been dashed.
He seems to display a desire to be alone in his misery and grief.
But the other disciples sought Thomas out and told him of the Lord's appearance to them.
They did not hold anything against him for not being with them when Christ appeared.
We have seen the Lord, they said. NO YOU DIDN'T Thomas said!
Amazing that 10 people testify to a truth but unbelief cannot be penetrated by 10, it cannot be penetrated by 1000 people.
Thomas refused to believe 10 competent people who were his friends and those friends simply verified what Jesus had told him before hand.
Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
He would not believe the experiences of others.
He was not told the words of Christ to them "Peace be unto you".
But he declared that he would only believe if he himself had an. experience.
Jesus Christ allowed Thomas to be in his unbelief for eight days we are told.
John 20:26, And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
The disciples had again gathered in the upper room on Sunday and this time Thomas was with them.
There is no mention this time that they had gathered in a locked room for fear of the Jews.
The days of the festival of unleavened bread were now over and they were gathered together before going back to Galilee.
Thomas had still not seen the Lord and if he was true to his word he was still skeptical about the resurrection.
But Thomas had an honest skepticism.
He did not forsake the assembling of himself with the other disciples.
He was ready to be convinced.
An honest skeptic will listen to arguments.
A person who says he is a skeptic but will not listen is only posing as a skeptic.
But Thomas was honest and he loved the Lord but could not believe because of his sorrow.
But it is obvious that this appearance of Christ was for the benefit of Thomas.
He came to bring Thomas from a position of unbelief to belief.
John 20:27,28 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus Christ met Thomas's every need.
Thomas had said: He had said: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
Jesus Christ answered: Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side:
And for what purpose did Jesus do this? Be not faithless, but believing!
Notice how Jesus Christ used the same words as Thomas did.
Jesus knew all about Thomas's doubts! Thou God indeed seest me!
Thomas! your every word was known by Christ.
He had listened to Thomas's outburst and now repeats it for Thomas.
He said thrust thy hand into my side.
Don't just gingerly touch my side, go ahead and throw your hand, cast your hand into my side.
That's the kind of wound I took for you.
Be not faithless, but believing.
Thomas was not to be convinced easily which can be a good thing for easy belief can also be easily lost.
Jesus Christ invited him to test him with all his strength.
He repeated for Thomas the same things he did one week previous for the other disciples.
It was important for Thomas to know the truths taught by his pierced hands and side.
How important for those truths to be known to understand
The Lord in saying to Thomas, Be not faithless, but believing is for all of us.
We are not to have the habit of doubting, and questioning the Lord.
We are not to be faithless and slow to believe the word of God.
And so Thomas believed.
There is no report that Thomas thrust his hand into the wounded side of Christ.
John simply reports that Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
In one moment the doubter was transformed into a worshipper!
Thomas's boast to the disciples one week previous was a vain boast for he had said that he would not believe unless he put his finger into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side.
It did not take that drastic step for Thomas to believe for Jesus Christ says in the next verse that Thomas believed because he saw Christ.
Jesus Christ counted as faith Thomas's affirmation that Christ was his Lord and his God!
This is the only time in the Gospels that anyone owned Christ as God.
But did not Christ speak the very words that Thomas has spoken one week past?
This and the very wounds that Thomas desired to see convinced the spectic, the doubter, that before him stood his Lord and his God.
Perhaps the doubter is the one who, when finally convinced, will be the one where most faith abounds.
And can anyone call Jesus, Lord but by the Holy Spirit?
We see then that at this moment Thomas was given the Holy Spirit which the other disciples had recieved one week past.
John 20:29, Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Christ accepted Thomas's confession of his diety but he reminded him that it only came as a result of outward signs.
Signs that appeal to and convince by the eye.
The world says seeing is believing.
That is what Thomas required.
But Christ says believing is seeing.
Believe God and you will see.
Thomas had insisted on seeing and handling a risen Christ.
Jesus granted his request but he reminds him that there is a greater blessedness upon those who have never seen him in the flesh, yet who have believed.
Why, because of greater faith exercised.
Greater faith pleases God the Father.
And what pleases God the Father results in greater blessedness to the one who pleases the Father.
blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
This is the group that we belong to if we are believers.
God has graciously allowed us to have faith not of sight but by his word.
This is the higher faith.
We are more blessed than those who saw Christ during the days he lived bodily among men.
Thomas was not the only one who saw and then believed.
Even John needed the grave clothes in the tomb to believe.
The other disciples when they were in the upper room eight days previous were glad, when they saw the wounds of the Lord.
They too did not believe without a sign!
Jesus here tells us that simply by believing his word the greater blessing will be received.