John 20=Risen Jesus + Thomas + Us
Bible Background: John records the risen Jesus making multiple, very personal, and very convincing appearances. Tradition refers to “Doubting Thomas”, but pay attention to the rest of his story! His nickname implies, wrongly, that doubt and faith are opposites.
Digging Deeper: 1. We first meet Thomas in John 11, where Jesus has been summoned to Bethany to save his friend Lazarus, and decides to go against the advice of the other disciples. Jesus faced death threats. Thomas blurts out “Let us go with him, that we may die with him!” That’s bold!
2. The next time we meet Thomas is in John 14, where Jesus talks about “going to prepare a place” for his disciples in heaven. Thomas is honest enough to say-what everyone else is thinking: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” This leads to Jesus’ memorable answer: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
3. Then on Easter night, the risen Jesus appears to 10 disciples who are “locked behind doors” out of fear. His words to them are just what they need to hear: “Peace be with you!” The risen Lord is clearly the crucified Jesus as he shows them his hands and his side.
4. In John, as in Matthew, the risen Jesus gives the disciples immediate marching orders: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathes the Holy Spirit on them. (Easter would also serve as Pentecost in John’s ordering of things.)
5. Only now do we learn that “Thomas, the Twin, was not with them.” When the 10 disciples tell of their experience, he says “Unless I see…I will not believe.” A week later, Jesus makes a return appearance, just for the benefit of Thomas. And Thomas responds with the strongest statement of faith of anyone, calling Jesus “My Lord, and my God!” (All through John’s gospel, John has been showing us how Jesus really is God in human form.)
6. Then Jesus adds this blessing for all of us disciples down through the ages: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” This applied to the early Christians John is writing to-around 100 AD, and it still applies!
7. “Seeing is believing”. At least some of the time. But can it also be that “Believing is seeing?” John writes his accounts of Jesus “so that in believing, you may have life in his name!” How would you describe the life available in Jesus’ name?