Summary: Jesus' second appearance to His disciples reveals the blessedness of personal faith in the risen King.
The Forgotten Fifty Days: “Believing the Risen King” John 20:24-31
The caption on the National Enquirer (I think it was) used to be, “Inquiring minds want to know?” Most people are innately curious. People are also generally skeptical: they want proof or evidence in order to be convinced. We saw last week the disciples’ were overjoyed in seeing Jesus alive; they were convinced because they SAW the Risen Lord, but one of the 12 was not with them. We pick up that story in John 20:24(NAS):
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus (Twin or Twice), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, (Telling Him of the evidence!) "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, (apistos-WITHOUT faith, faithless) but believing.
1. The Problem of the Unbelieving: Faith-LESS
Thomas did not think for a moment that he would gain such notoriety with a few sentences: He became known throughout history as “doubting Thomas” and the saying “seeing is believing” has no doubt caused many people to NOT BELIEVE. The Problem with Thomas was not that he doubted, as it says in some translations, but that he was “without faith.” He was UNBELIEVING. He was still FAITHLESS and without trust in the Savior. He said: “Unless I SEE, I WILL NOT believe that Jesus is risen.” The word that Jesus uses to describe him is “unbelieving” (apistos); It means to be without FAITH or to be full of faith-LESS-ness.
It is really astounding to hear Thomas’ declarations of distrust when you compare his dedication to Jesus in John 11:16 right before Lazarus’ resurrection: “Then Thomas (called Didymus, Twin) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." When he could SEE Jesus alive, he was ready to die with him, but now that Jesus HAD died, he could not trust what Jesus had promised him, nor did he trust the testimony of those who HAD seen Jesus!
Listen to these other warnings concerning those who are without faith. Jesus said in Matthew 17:17: (as well as Mark and Luke, using the same word) "You unbelieving (apistos) and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?"
In 1 AND 2 Corinthians, Paul uses the word to refer to strictly to UNBELIEVERS, those who are without saving faith. I use just one verse out of the 12 examples, from 2 Cor. 4:4: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving (apistos) so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Listen to God’s stern warning from Revelation 21:8: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Jesus expanded all of these sins to include the areas of mind and heart.)
All people BELIEVE in something, and they all believe something about Jesus, but Jesus is not concerned about your individual “VERSION” of what you choose to believe about Him, but do you believe in who Jesus really is and the essence of why He came. It wasn’t enough for Thomas to believe Jesus was a good man to follow and maybe even die for and exclude the fact that Jesus arose from the dead! In the great chapter of resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15, in verse 17 Paul exclaims: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” If you believe in anything or anyone, it must be in the Resurrected Jesus since sinners are justified by His Resurrection. If not, your faith is useless and dead and you are still dead in your sins.
C.S. Lewis wrote "I have to believe that Jesus was (and is) God. And it seems plain as a matter of history that He taught His followers that the new life was communicated in this way. In other words, I believe it on His authority. Ninety-nine percent of the things you believe are believed on authority... The ordinary person believes in the solar system, atoms, and the circulation of the blood on authority--because the scientists say so. Every historical statement is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But we believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them." (C.S. Lewis "A Grief Observed")