Studies in the Gospel of John- The New Beginning
I. The Resurrection and Revealing to Thomas
A. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)
B. As we look at the signs recorded in the Gospel of John we will attempt to describe them, as Arthur Pink says, in three ways. 1. The Typical Significance 2. The Prophetic Application 3. The Practical Teaching.
C. When reading the Gospel of John always ask questions of the Holy Spirit, who is the author of the book through Apostle John. As this book records, He, the Holy Spirit, will lead us and guide us into all Truth.
II. The Practical Teaching
A. First and foremost, Jesus physically rose from the dead! No other leader, theologian, religious paragon, or person was raised from the dead independently of the work of another. Jesus alone was given power over death as a result of His obedience to His Father and therefore a sinless life. Every other person has been affected by the curse of sin and thus has died. He shows the Wounds to His disciples, that they would be changed, confirmed, and comforted.
B. On the first day of the week, which was Sunday, in the evening Jesus reveals himself to the disciples that had gathered because of the fear of the Jews. There he speaks peace upon them and breathes upon them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. He then gives them the power of communicating Reconciliation and Condemnation. The commission to tell those who are reconciled they are forgiven and to tell those who are unwilling the consequences of their rebellion. The declaration is a reminder to the Apostles to forgive those that would withstand their ministry and to be free from the bitterness and consequence of unforgiveness. In addition, I believe we see Jesus’ command carried over into an intercessory work of the Apostles, starting with the Lord Himself on the Cross, and reiterated by Stephen the first martyr, and throughout the church age where those facing death intercede for their perpetrators by praying “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
C. Thomas called the Twin (Didymus)- He is mentioned more times in the Gospel of John than anywhere else in the Gospels. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke he is mentioned one time in each. In the Gospel of John he mentioned by name 8 times.
D. was not with them when Jesus came: Beza’s ancient copy reads, “he was not there with them”; and so read the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions; he either had not returned to the rest after their scattering one from another upon the apprehending of Christ; or did not choose to assemble with the rest, for fear of the Jews; or was taken up with some business and affair of life; however, he was not with the rest of the disciples, when they were assembled together, and Jesus appeared among them: as it is of good consequence to attend the assemblies of Christ’s disciples and followers, so it is of bad consequence to neglect or forsake them: it is frequently to good purpose that persons attend them; here God comes and blesses his people, Jesus grants his presence, the graces of the Spirit are increased, and drawn forth into exercise; souls that have lost sight of Christ find him, disconsolate ones are comforted, weak ones strengthened, and hungry ones fed: on the other hand, not to attend is of bad consequence; neglect of assembling together exposes to many snares and temptations; brings on a spiritual leanness; leads to an indifference and lukewarmness: issues in a low degree of grace, and a non-exercise of it, and in a loss of Christ’s presence. (John Gill’s Commentary)
E. Thomas declares Jesus to be “My Lord and my God”. Nowhere in the scripture do you see a messenger or angel from God receiving the accolades of being God without correcting the person giving it…unless they are God! Jesus received Thomas’ worship!
F. Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
III. The Typical Significance
A. We are talking about the types and symbols of the event.
B. The First Day of the Week was the same day when God spoke. It was the same speaking God, The Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ, who said Let there Be light!…look here is the evidence of my suffering and yet I live.
C. Thomas was not with them. We don’t know who else was not with them except Judas Iscariot, who was dead. It seems from the text that it was only Thomas who was not with them since he had told them later that he would not believe unless he saw the marks himself. John refers to Thomas consistently as the twin. Thomas means “Twin” and then he reiterates it by giving his greek name Didymus which means “Twin” too. There is another twin that is very important in our understanding of scripture. His name was Jacob. He was a twin and became the patriarch Israel. Thomas is a type of unbelieving Israel. He had not gathered with the rest of the disciples, but was isolated and alone.
D. Eight Days Later- Eight representing a New Beginning Jesus enters through Locked doors again to reveal himself to Thomas.
E. Do not disbelieve, but believe.- Its as if the Lord is dealing with the tendency of duplicity with the Twin. Our belief is not based on sight, but on hearing the Word of Christ!
IV. The Prophetic Application
A. With each sign we see the progression of the Gospel message within the time of the church age. We can track the events and significant markers that will take place during the time of Jesus’ heavenly intercessory ministry until the day He returns.
B. Thomas, the Twin, was not present with the other disciples when Jesus revealed himself through locked doors and rejected their testimony of Him. This is just like Israel that rejected the message given by the disciples of the Lord and as a result endured much fear and persecution. It is on the Eighth Day Jesus reveals himself again to Thomas. He rebukes him for his unbelief and reiterates the blessing of believing without seeing!
C. This is the beginning of the New Day. I believe this is a fulfillment of a prophetic declaration “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10) Israel will believe, when Jesus returns! Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)