Summary: Thomas started out as a doubter who quickly changed his skepticism once he saw the resurrected Jesus.
BELIEVING IN THE RESURRECTED JESUS (part two)
1) Overjoyed! (19-20) All the hoopla surrounding the empty tomb happened Sunday morning and now we are in Sunday evening. The disciples had all day to think about what had already happened. They weren’t convinced that Jesus had resurrected, even though they saw the empty tomb and the grave clothes lying there along with Mary telling them she had seen Jesus herself. And after that, Jesus appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus and they came and told the Apostles that it was true. So, as they were pondering all this, Jesus comes through a locked door and stands among them. Does this mean that Jesus didn’t resurrect in bodily form and he was just a spirit? No. Luke 24:36-43. Jesus had a resurrected body. Therefore, it had more capabilities than just a typical flesh and blood body like ours. This allowed him to act like a ghost even though he was not. But we have to remember that before he possessed a resurrected body he came to his disciples walking on the water. And they thought then that they were seeing a ghost (Matt. 14:25-26). 41-they couldn’t believe their eyes. They were overjoyed and amazed but probably still wondering if they were really encountering the resurrected Jesus. John 20:20 “he showed them his hands and side.” Although Jesus was alive and restored he still bore the marks of his crucifixion. As we rejoice in the resurrected Jesus we need to be mindful of the wounds he bore for us. He showed his disciples his hands and side to show further proof that it was indeed Jesus standing there among them, in the flesh. He also rebuked them for their lack of faith. Mark 16:14, “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Jesus didn’t go easy on his disciples for their lack of faith. He rebuked them because they had enough evidence to believe and yet still doubted. Nevertheless, Jesus still made his appearance to them so that they could have further proof. People today have plenty of evidence to believe yet they continue in their stubbornness. Even Christians who have seen the mighty hand of God at work in their lives countless times can have situations where they doubt. Jesus may need to rebuke us for our lack of faith. However, he continues to prove himself to us because he knows our weaknesses. He wants us to believe and be overjoyed like the disciples.
2) Passing the torch (21-23). In verse 19 the disciples were barricading themselves in due to their fear of the Jews. Perhaps they figured that since Jesus’ body was missing they might come after them demanding answers or to silence them lest they spread the news of the absurdity of Jesus coming back to life. In any event, they were afraid. But here comes Jesus in miraculous power trying to show them, yet again, that they need not fear. “I am sending you”. As the Father sent Jesus with a mission of salvation now Jesus was sending his disciples with the same mission. They were going to need Jesus’ power if they were going to overcome their fears and spread his message. 22-this was a special empowering of the Holy Spirit to do the work of Christ. They would be filled with the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost (Acts 2:4). 23-This doesn’t mean that they had the authority to declare whether someone was forgiven or damned. Jesus is saying that the power of the message they were to be proclaiming was such that those who accepted it would be forgiven but those who didn’t would be condemned. John 12:47-50. Jesus received the message from his Father and now Jesus passes it to his disciples, with the same power. The power of the message of salvation, spoken through the disciples, had the ability to save or condemn depending on whether or not it was accepted by those who heard it. Matt. 16:15-19. Through the Holy Spirit Peter believed in Jesus the Christ. Jesus declares that the church will be built on this same faith. He will hand the keys to the kingdom over to his disciples in the carrying on of the gospel. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Peter preached the gospel and the church was established. The Apostles were given authority and power and were responsible for setting the rules and guidelines within the church but their authority came not from themselves but from Christ, as they were guided by the Holy Spirit. As Albert Barnes’ commentary states, “It was not authority to forgive individuals, but to establish in all the churches the terms and conditions on which men might be pardoned, with a promise that God would confirm all that they taught; that all might have assurance of forgiveness who would comply with those terms; and that those who did not comply should not be forgiven, but that their sins should be retained.”