Summary: Jesus' meeting with Thomas reveals the problem of a unbelieving heart and the persistence of a loving Savior to draw close to Him and believe and be blessed!
8 7 2016 “Thomas: Believing the Risen King” John 20:24-31
“Inquiring minds want to know?” was the caption on a supermarket tabloid for years. 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 (NKJV):
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin (or Twice), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, (They were telling Him of the evidence!) "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside and Thomas with them. (They were mindful of the hatred of the Jews; that didn’t change but increased. They hated Jesus and they would hate His followers; that pattern continues to today.) Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" (Jesus uses the same greeting as the week before and makes the same type of miraculous, supernatural entrance.)
27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving (apistos-WITHOUT faith, faithless), but believing." 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
1. The Problem of the Unbelieving: Faith-LESS
I don’t think that it occurred to Thomas 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. Although this story stands as a firm warning against rejecting the Risen Christ, millions of people throughout history have done just that: They have rejected the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
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 in verse 27 is “unbelieving” (apistos); It means to be without FAITH or to be full of faith-LESS-ness. (The King James Version uses the word “faithless” which is very powerful!)
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!