Summary: We are blessed for believing though we have not seen.
TO BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE
John 20:19-31 (NIV)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
I don’t know whether you ever watch the TV sitcom, Will and Grace. There’s one episode where Grace is overtaken by a fear that Will will no longer need her in his life. Already she can see signs that they are drifting apart, and it frightens her. Will had rather go to the gym than spend a quiet evening at home with her. He seems to prefer his friends to hers. She tries to talk to him, but he doesn’t listen. And she feels threatened by the possibility that, one day, he will not need her company at all.
In her state of panic, she tries to manipulate the situation. She buys a piano, and, when it arrives, she explains to a disbelieving Will why she ordered it. She tells him that, when she was growing up, some of her best memories were those of her family gathered around the piano, singing together. And she wants something like that for their relationship.
It’s scary, when you’re afraid you’re going to lose something or someone that is important to you. And you might do all sorts of things. Fear works on you.
You can see fear at work among the disciples of Jesus. We’re told that it was still Easter Sunday. The shine had not even worn off the news that Jesus was alive. But the disciples were afraid nonetheless -- so afraid that they locked themselves behind closed doors for protection.
It’s easy to judge them, I suppose, but, the truth is, we might do the same thing under the circumstances. I mean, everything had happened pretty fast. Just a few nights ago, they were with Jesus in the garden, and then a unit of armed men came and arrested him. They might have fought back then; in fact, some of them were ready to. But by the next day, it was clear who had the upper hand. Jesus’ enemies effortlessly pinned him to a cross, and, lest the same fate befall them, most of them ran away.
And, sure, this morning some of the women in their group showed up and claimed that Jesus was alive. They had actually seen him, even talked with him. But the disciples hadn’t seen him. And they had seen the armed guards. There’s something cold and real about the business end of a spear, and they were in no mood to challenge the willingness of a temple guard to use one. They still didn’t know what their fate was. So, they were afraid.
I’ve been afraid, at times, too. No doubt, so have you. And we know what fear does to us. It robs us of the ability to think straight. We feel threatened, and we start looking for ways to protect our interests. For Jesus’ disciples, it was their very safety for which they feared, so what did they do? They hid in a house behind locked doors.