The disciples were together in fear (20:19-23).
They listened to the sounds of the street, also at night. When would the soldiers come?
It was in this state of fearful waiting that they heard Mary knock. Her familiar female voice prompted them to open for her, hear her incredible news and race to the tomb to confirm what she said. They went back to the house where they stayed behind locked doors to hang around for events to unfold. What else could they do?
Suddenly Jesus in their midst without knocking with a normal greeting: Peace be with you. (Hebrew: Shalom). This greeting meant so much more than the absence of trouble. It meant that God would give you every good thing. It is the pronouncement of a blessing in every greeting. As casual as if He said: Hi guys!
John tells of their joy to see Him and then on to serious future planning. I can easily imagine that the moments of wonder and awe lasted a while. Every one of His disciples most probably looked Him in the eye with an uncontrolled mix of emotions experiencing heaven and earth in the same moment. In am convinced that all fear and uncertainty evaporated in the powerful presence of Jesus.
The sending forth meant that the church is the body of Christ. Jesus showed us the Father, now He was going back and the body must do His work. (Ephesians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 12:12). The church is sent with the message, the mouth of God, the foot soldier and His hands. Jesus works in and through His church.
The church needs Jesus. It is where we live in the power, authority and miraculous outcome of God himself. As Jesus came from God, so the church comes from Jesus. The church can only exist in perfect love and obedience. It is the message of Jesus, nothing else. Nothing man-made is sustainable. It must be God-ordained to be eternal and powerful.
He breathed on them. The Holy Spirit is the breath of God for life. God breathed into Adam (Genesis 2:7). He breathed on the dead bones by the wind (Ezekiel 37:9). In John 3 Jesus compared the work of the Holy Spirit with the wind – mostly unexplainable and invisible. The Holy Spirit is His breath – Hebrew = ruach. The Holy Spirit is the very life of God in us to fully equip the church for the task. Jesus himself said we shall receive power (Acts 1:8). Our testimony is worthless without the breath of God.
The Church must convey the message of forgiveness. We interpret the message of God. It will be true and powerful only in as much as we dwell in the presence of God. When the church proclaims forgiveness when a person is penitent, it is the message of forgiveness, not the act of forgiving. Preaching is grace and mercy, but also warning and exhortation.
Thomas knew death was coming. He said so in Bethany (John 11:16). He has been labeled the doubting Thomasby men, NOT Jesus. Thomas loved Jesus. There is no doubt about that. He knew what was coming in Jerusalem and when it played out, he was devastated like the others. He might have wanted some time alone, and therefore withdrew from fellowship. He missed the first appearance. We need to be in fellowship with our sorrow and disappointment. There they will carry us to the face of God Himself.
He hears the news from the others. It sounded too good to be true. He speaks his doubt: he will believe when he sees. He wants to touch the wounds and make sure it is not an impostor. (There is no mention of nails in Jesus’ feet. The feet were usually not nailed, only bound.)
Thomas is very anxious to establish the truth. He cannot base his whole life and the profound impact of Jesus on his life on a lie. He has to make a hundred percent sure that the resurrection is the truth. He is not different from all the millions that came after him in the history of Christianity.
Another week passes and this time Thomas is present. There in community with his brothers, he experiences his deepest desire. Jesus knows his heart and treats him special. He appears exactly as previously.
Jesus invites him to investigate. He will always invite to investigate. He is the answer to every possible question and He is not stingy with answers. Don’t be afraid.
Think and imagine the detail of this meeting. Thomas falls down and says: My Lord and my God. Do you think he touched the wounds? I think the answer was in Jesus’ voice and face.
It is the same today. All our answers are in His presence, His voice and His eye on us. (Psalms 32:8)
Thomas refuses to be dragged into something he does not understand. He is strong and wants to come to his own conclusion. Jesus respects this and invites him to investigate. Thomas is honest to the bone. He had to be sure. His faith is based on truth, not on stories of others and things that doesn’t make sense.
When he received his confirmation, he surrendered in victorious worship. His faith is based on full revelation and worship flows spontaneously.
The words of Jesus to Thomas have inspired generations of believerswho could not see Him in the flesh.
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:29)
We don’t know what happened to Thomas. There are stories that the disciples divided to world to preach to all and India fell to Thomas. There is a church in the south of India whose history traces back to him.
Faith came to him in a powerful and personal way. Jesus revealed himself to him. This is still true for today. We can go to the ends of the earth in our spiritual journey when we have encountered Jesus face to face.
LAST WORDS (20:30-31)
It is clear that the Gospel concludes here. John 21 was written as an appendix.
These words set out the aim of the Gospels as a whole.
It was never intended to be a full account of the life of Jesus. It is not a day-by-day but a selective history to show what He was like and what He did.
The Gospels were not meant as biographies. The aim of the words is not to give information, but to communicate life. It is to give life to the image of Jesus so that the reader can meet Him personally to learn from Him directly and experience true life through Him.
We read to know God, not to learn history.