READING: John 20:19-31
Joh 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.Joh 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
It’s been a good Easter. I don’t even know what that means – but people say it’s been good. A friend of mine in the US who is a pastor said is was good because they had record attendances. Well Post CovId – posts lockdown – for some just getting together was good.
For pastors and minister types, you know it’s been good when you are pretty worn out for a few weeks afterwards. Maybe that’s why hey call this Sunday low Sunday.
Was it good for those first followers?
Peter – yes, we saw that he got special mention after his failure. Tell the disciples and Peter, says the angel. He appeared to Peter, says Paul. Jesus the forgiver.
For Mary his mother – well we don’t hear from her but we can assume she was less heart broken than before. And even if he wasn’t going to be around for a long time – he’d organized John his friend to look after her in the long term. Jesus the pastoral planner.
For Mary Magdalene, well she thinks he’s the gardener. He calls her by her name – and that makes the connection. She then calls him Raboni – which means teacher. It makes her a real woman disciple in a context where women general were left out. Jesus the kind and compassionate one.
And then there’s Thomas. Poor bloke. All those questions he asked. And just his luck he wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to them I that locked room. I have no idea where we went. Maybe he was catching up with his twin – if his twin was Lydia or maybe another unknown person. So when he hears their story, you can’t help but sympathise when he is less than convinced.
A week later there’s this lovely detail from Jesus – just as he meets with others where they are, he connects with Thomas. For each demand, one writer puts it, there’s a command from Jesus. The order isn’t perfect, but it’s all there – “precisely and fully” (Hendrikson Baker NT Commentary on John).
The commentary suggests this: “In order to see how precisely and fully the demands of Thomas are met, we must place the words of Thomas and those of Jesus next to each other.”
Have a look:
|The Demands of Thomas||The Commands of Jesus|
|1. Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails,|
2. And put my finger into the place of the nails,
3. And put my hand into his side,
4. I definitely will not believe
|2. See my hands|
1. Bring here your finger.
3. And bring your hand, and put it into my side.
4. And no longer be unbelieving but believing.
Jesus’ response to Thomas brings about a confession of faith that is pretty powerful and complete:
Joh 20:28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
And here John expands Jesus’ reach to us too:
Joh 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
And then he pretty much wraps up his gospel:
Let’s remind ourselves of some of the key passagaes we havea looked at. Look at the references to life and believing.
It starts in John 1:1:
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. Joh 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…
Remember the conversation with Nathanael: Joh 1:48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Joh 1:49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Joh 1:50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” Joh 1:51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
And Nicodemus: Joh 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, Joh 3:15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God So Loved the World Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And the woman at the well: Joh 4:14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Joh 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Joh 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (abundant life). (the good shepherd teaching).
Joh 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; Joh 11:26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? (To Martha)
Joh 12:32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men/people to myself.” (looking to the cross to find life and healing, like the snake in John 3:14).
Joh 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (In response to Thomas)
Joh 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (in prayer)
In John’s gospel what follows is the Easter story. If you missed it, read chapters 18-19 again.
Here we are in chapter 20. He is life – he is alive again. Speaking to these followers of his.
And to Thomas.
“Stop doubting and believe.”
Why? The whole point of this whole book John) is summed up:
Joh 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. Joh 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Jesus – God saves. Believe in his name. He is everything. The I am. Remember Joh 8:58: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
Thomas got the message – I am the man.
Just for a bit of fun – although this is serious – here’ a great song about Thomas “ I am the man Thomas”. by Ralph Stanley. Bob Dylan made it famous, singing it nearly 60 times.
It’s a great way to start guitar – only needs two chords. Bluegrass is a great country style. Someone said: , “Bluegrass is to country what heavy metal is to rock and roll.”
Art and music capture various aspects of Thomas’ journey to faith.
Here is Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys – live:
And a younger version of the song and a faster tempo: The Petersens: https://youtu.be/XVDs4N5Avdg
THE LYRICS INCLUDE:
Oh, I am the Man, Thomas, I am the Man
Look at these nail scars here in my hands
They pierced me in the side, Thomas, I am the Man
They made me bear the cross, Thomas, I am the Man
They laid me in the tomb, Thomas, I am the Man
In three days I arose, Thomas, I am the Man
They pierced me in the Side, Thomas, I am the Man
They made me bear the cross, Thomas, I am the Man.
Do you believe he is the man? The one? The “I am”.
It’s a great question.
Don’t be unbelieving, says Jesus. Believe.