The Resurrection Manifest in St. John’s Gospel (02) – Unbelief and Evidence
John 20:19–31 – So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” 30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Peace in Place of Fear (vv19-23) – The disciples were afraid. They cowered in hiding, “for fear of the Jews” (v19). Jesus “came” in their midst or “appeared” (Acts 1:3). Jesus’s very first action was to confer peace to them (twice to make the point): “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you’” (v21, also Lk. 24:36). Through Christ’s victory, the ground of peace was accomplished on the Day of Resurrection. From this we have mission: “as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (v21). By this peace we are duly and actually empowered in His presence to be “sent” to the world. From this account we have peace and purpose: a) we have peace with God through Christ (Rom. 5:1) connected to the forgiveness of sins (v23). This is the reason and the rationale for relational peace with others. b) We have purpose to declare this forgiveness leading to peace in the world, being commissioned by Christ (v21ff).
Faith in Place of Unbelief (vv24-31) – On the next Lord’s Day (2nd Sunday of Eastertide), enter “unbelieving” Thomas, who was not present on Easter 1. He was unbelieving (not merely doubting) in the face of many credentialed and credible witnesses, namely: at least twelve other men (ten original disciples, less Judas and Thomas, plus the two on the road to Emmaus) and several women, especially Mary Magdelene who hugged Him. Jesus had eaten broiled fish in front of ten men (Luke 24:42). Peter testified that Jesus “ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead” (Acts 10:42). They had all “seen” Him, “heard Him,” and “handled Him” (1 John 1:1). This is a large number of eyewitnesses to Christ’s bodily reality. Jesus, however, met Thomas’s evidentiary demand, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands.” God has provided sufficient evidence for all the world to be “without excuse” (anapologetous – “without an apologetic” Rom. 1:20), since He has “furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).