John 20:24-31

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 24) Our Lord had appeared to His disciples, convinced them that He had indeed risen from the dead, and given them the Holy Spirit to empower them for their ministry to the world; but Thomas, one of the twelve, was not present with them when the Lord appeared. There is no way of knowing where he was nor why he was not there, but there is a lesson to be learned from his absence. He missed the joy of seeing the risen Lord. He missed bearing our Lord's words of peace. He missed the peace and assurance itself as evidenced by his words in the next verse, "I will not believe." Paul exhorts believers to "forsake not the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb. 10:25). Such neglect leads to spiritual leanness, snares and temptations, and missed blessings.

(Vs. 25) The disciples found Thomas and with great joy and assurance of faith told him that they had "seen the Lord." They not only had the testimony of the women and the angels, but they saw Him with their own eyes. But Thomas replied, "Except I shall see the print of the nails and touch those scars in His hands and side, I will not believe." Thomas was present at the raising of Lazarus and had heard Christ Himself say that He would rise from the dead, and now he had the testimony of his ten friends that Christ had risen; but he did not believe. How great is the sin of unbelief and how stubborn is the human heart! Paul calls it an evil heart, which does not believe the Lord (Heb. 3:12). Thank God, He overrules our unbelief and is faithful to us when we are not faithful to Him (II Tim. 2:13).

(Vs. 26) The disciples were together on the first day of the week (the day of Christ's resurrection), and the Lord had appeared unto them. We find them together again on this same day, probably in the same place, hoping that He would come to them again. This time Thomas was with them! Evidently the disciples began from that day and experience to meet on Sunday. It appears from Acts 20:7 and I Cor. 16:2 that the Christians met the first day of the week for preaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and praise. We do not read in the New Testament of any congregation of Christians meeting on the Jewish Sabbath. We find the apostles preaching to the Jews assembled on that day, but no record is found of Christians meeting on that day for religious exercises. The Lord again stood in their midst and said, "Peace be unto you."

(Vs. 27) Our Lord knew (as He knows all things) the conversation which had taken place with Thomas. He knew the very words which Thomas had spoken concerning the prints of the nails and the wound in His side; and with compassion toward his weakness and infirmities, in a kind and tender way, the Lord addressed Thomas, "Reach hither and touch the scars with your own hands and be not faithless, but believing." Faith glorifies and pleases God (Heb. 11:6). Faith in the Lord Jesus justifies the soul (Rom. 3:28; Rom. 5:1). Faith saves (Luke 7:50). Faith brings the blessings of God upon us (Mark 9:23; Luke 17: 5-6). Unbelief is the root of evil, dishonors God, makes the Word of no effect, and damns the soul (Mark 16:15-16).

(Vs. 28) We are not told that Thomas carried out his intentions: but rather, astonished at the Lord's grace, ashamed of his unbelief, and in total faith and confidence he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God." "My Lord," to whom I yield myself in total submission, and "My God," whom I worship and believe. We are told that this is the first time the name GOD is given to Christ by a man. By His resurrection He is declared to be the Son of God with power (Rom. 1:4). Thomas, who doubted so strongly, was the first to acknowledge Christ to be "God overall blessed forever."

(Vs. 29) There were many who saw the Lord Jesus and the miracles he did who did not believe Him nor follow Him. Thomas was blessed by God's grace to truly and sincerely believe Christ as a result of seeing the risen Lord. Our Lord acknowledged Thomas' faith, but with a gentle rebuke declares that they are more blessed who believe Him though they have not seen Him in the flesh. They believe His word, His gospel, and His promises. The less need faith has of evidences that appeal to the senses, the stronger it is (Rom. 10:17; Rom. 4: 20-21; Heb. 11:1).

(Vs. 30) Whether John is speaking of the signs and wonders that Christ did in the presence of His disciples during the forty days between His resurrection and His ascension or if he refers to all the wonders, works, and words of our Lord during His time on this earth, we do not know. But it is certain that this book John has written could not contain them, nor all the books in the world (John 21:25).

(Vs. 31) These words that I have written under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit of God (II Peter 1:20-21) are written that you might believe in your heart (Rom. 10:9-10) that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed THE CHRIST – promised, prophesied, and pictured in the Old Testament – and that He is Emmanuel, "GOD WITH US" (Acts 8:37). This heart faith in Jesus Christ is of great concern because eternal life depends upon it. By believing on Christ and through His blessed name, we have eternal life, access to the throne, and acceptance before God (Acts 2:36; Acts 4:11-12; Rom. 3:19-24; Rom. 4:22-25; I John 5:10-13).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.