Summary: thomas demanded proof and was rebuked and challenged by Christ to beleive
Thomas and the Resurrection
We are all very good at categorising people or placing them in certain boxes. So for example we see a single mum and we immediately place her in a certain place socially. Or we see someone with a drug or alcohol problem and we place them in a certain place and make a certain judgment about their character. We hear someone is a politician and immediately we have them weighed up. You mention the disciple Thomas and we immediately think ‘doubt.’ Thomas has always had ‘doubting’ prefixed to his name. My own first name is Thomas and I am thankful that my parents decided to call me by my middle name instead. This morning I want to take a few moments and for us together to look at this encounter of Thomas with the risen Lord Jesus and to hear what God would teach us from His word this morning. .
So turn with me to verses 24-25 of John 20 – we have in these two verses the context of what is about to happen between Thomas and the risen Christ. John tells us that for some reason Thomas was not with the other disciples when Christ first appeared to them. No reason is given as to why Thomas was not with the other 10 disciples. He may have been so overwhelmed by his grief at the death of Christ that he wanted to be on his own. When the disciples went into hiding at the death of Christ he may have decided that it was safer not to be with the others and so it may have been out of a desire for self-preservation that he was not with them. John doesn’t tell us but in verse 25 we learn that the other disciples have sought him out to tell him that Christ is risen from the dead and that they have seen him. ‘We have seen the Lord’ they tell him. In fact the Greek for ‘said’ means to ‘keep on saying.’ They were persistent in what they were saying to Thomas about Jesus being risen from the dead. Thomas’ response is the typical response to the resurrection, even today. He demands proof. Look at what he says in verse 25 – it is not unreasonable is it for him to wish to see with his own eyes and touch with his own hands the risen Christ. He is quite forthright in his reply to the other disciples. Remember who it is that he is responding to – 10 men with whom he has shared the last 3 years of his life. These are not men he does not know but men with whom he has walked for the past 3 years. These men know Thomas and Thomas knows them. He knows all about Simon Peter and his temper. He knows all about James and John and their nickname ‘sons of thunder’ and he knows John and the beloved disciple. He knows also that these same men a few days earlier had fled in terror from the garden of Gethsemane. He had stood with them as they watched their Jesus die on a cross and as his lifeless body was laid low in the tomb and now they are all claiming to have seen him, raised to life again. Thomas not only expresses his doubt to them but also his determination not to believe unless he sees and touches for himself. ‘I am a realist…’ that is what Thomas is saying to them. You see there is nothing knew in the world – the age old ‘give me proof and I will believe.’ You know when Christ was dying on the cross isn’t that exactly what the crowd and the religious leaders said – come down from the cross and we will believe you. It was not that they had no proof of who he was – his miracles proved who he was – that is why John in his gospel calls them ‘signs’ and not ‘miracles.’ There was enough proof – it wasn’t evidence that was lacking but belief and the same is true for some you here this morning.
Verse 26 – it is one week later and they are all together again and John tells us that this time Thomas is with them. A week in which, no doubt, they had each had a conversation with Thomas about Christ appearing to them. No doubt Peter and John told how they had run to the tomb and how it was empty. No doubt they all had told of Christ’s appearance to them when they were together. Yet Thomas remains unconvinced and unmoved. John records incidental details – the door is locked – they still fear for their lives, even though Christ is risen these men are still frightened, they have not yet been empowered by the Holy Spirit. John simply states ‘Jesus came and stood among them and said…’ The door is locked and Jesus comes and stands before them. The risen Christ is no longer bound by time or space. He is no longer constrained by the laws of physics as he was when he became man and dwelt amongst them. Notice too will you the first thing that Jesus does is ‘speak.’ He says to them: ‘Peace be with you.’ His words come to them as a gentle greeting and a blessing upon them.