Summary: This message focuses on Thomas disbelief.
Easter: Thomas’ Unbelief
Scriptures: John 20
Last week I shared with you that when Jesus died on the cross He went to hell and made a proclamation. He also freed the souls that were there who had died in faith and took them into God’s presence. I also shared with you that it did not end there and in fact Jesus went back into His body and was resurrected. This morning we will continue the story as today we are celebrating Easter – the morning of Christ’s resurrection. There were many things that happened on this morning and in the days following, but I want us to focus on Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples. Last Sunday, in preparation for this message, I asked you to take some time this week and read about Thomas. I also requested that you consider this question, “If Christ had not appeared to Thomas, would he have been saved?” This morning we will look at Thomas. Before we go to the gospel according to John, I want to give you the definitions of three words – doubt, disbelief and atheist.
• Doubt: To be uncertain; not sure of something.
• Disbelief: To not believe someone of something.
• Atheist: Not believing in or disbelieving in God or any gods.
Please turn with me to John chapter twenty and we will begin reading at verse one.
I. Jesus Resurrected Body
John 20:1-10 says “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.”
On Sunday Morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty. It was very early in the morning as the Scripture says it was still dark. The stone had already been rolled away so she ran from the cemetery and found Peter and John and told them that someone had taken Jesus’ body. The disciples at this point did not understand that Jesus had actually been resurrected from the dead. Peter and John came to the tomb and found it just as Mary Magdalene had said. They did not understand what had happened and eventually left to return home. Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb alone. Now you may wonder why they just left her there alone and I personally think it is the difference in how men and women think. When Peter and John saw that the tomb was empty I guess they figured since there was nothing they could do about it so they went home. Mary Magdalene on the other hand wanted some answers. Let’s continue reading at verse eleven.
“But Mary Magdalene was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, “Mary Magdalene!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni! (which means, Teacher).” (Vss. 11-16)
Mary looked into the tomb she saw two angels sitting there and was not concerned that they had not been there previously. When they asked her why she was crying she told them the same thing she had told Peter and John, that someone had taken His body. Jesus appeared behind Mary Magdalene and called her name. She turned and saw Him but did not recognize Him. I told you last week that Jesus reentered His body and yet Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him. Jesus’ body was not exactly the same. The body He left required blood to live. The body He took back required only His spirit. The body He left was flesh and blood; the body He returned to was “refashioned” in some ways but the same in others. Jesus had received a glorified body that contained some of the details (His wounds) from His earthly body. This was necessary because it would provide the necessary proof that He had truly risen from the dead. The disciples at this time believed in “spirits” so had Jesus appeared to them as a spirit only it would not have meant much, especially after what some of them witnessed on the mount of transfiguration. Jesus told Mary Magdalene to go and tell His disciples that He was ascending to the Father. The gospels according to Mark and Luke tell us that when Mary Magdalene (and the other women) told the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead the disciples did not believe her (them). They thought it was nonsense.