Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.
John(82) (Part of the Believe(74) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on November 1, 2020 (Sunday Morning(282))
Ever Present (Omnipresent)(4), Witnessing(11)
“Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountaineer who recently successfully scaled Mount Everest, writes in Outside magazine:
A few days after I arrived in the Khumbu Valley for the Mount Everest climb, a rumor began circulating. Because I wasn't flopping on my face every few minutes, the Sherpas thought I was lying about my blindness. Women would approach me in the alleys of Namche Bazaar and wave their hands in front of my face. I'd feel the wind and flinch, which only confirmed their suspicions.
Finally, I resorted to drastic measures. I asked Kami Tenzing, our climbing Sirdar, into the kitchen tent. ‘Kami,’ I said, ‘I want to give you a message to take back to the Sherpas.’ I pulled down my left lower eyelid, leaned my head forward, and my prosthetic eye plopped into my palm. ‘I can take the other out if you want,’ I said. ‘No!’ he said firmly. ‘Not necessary.’”
Erik Weihenmayer, "Tenacious," Outside (December 2001), p.55; submitted by Dave Goetz, Wheaton, Illinois.
Proving I’m not a robot
Setting up online accounts for any website has become more secure than in the past
Before, I just had to create a username and a password
Now, for most websites, I have to prove that I’m not a robot
I have to click the box beside the words “I’m not a robot [show image]
Then a pop up screen appears asking me to select the images with . . . (traffic lights, street signs, fire hydrants, bridges, etc.) [show image]
Websites do this to make sure that a live person is actually signing up for something instead of a computer bot
Proving we’re not robots
How many of us have had to do that recently or in the past?
Most of us have had to go through checking the box and then clicking all the boxes with the requested image in it
Some of us don’t use a computer, but we’ve probably been to the bank to withdrawal money or cash a check
When we do that, the teller asks us for our ID, so we can prove that we are who we say we are
Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on the day He came alive again. There was one disciple who was missing from that initial meeting. Pastor Marc shared last week that the wound made by the spear would have been a unique identifying factor, that it was Jesus who was appearing to them. No other person, who was crucified, had that unique mark. We’ll see today that the disciple, who missed the initial meeting, says he’ll never believe that Jesus is alive unless he can put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand in the spear hole. He wanted physical proof before he would believe. Jesus challenges him on this and speaks a blessing over those who believe without seeing. John wants us to know that . . .
BIG IDEA – Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.
GOD (John 20:24-31)
Thomas’ Unbelief (vv. 24-25)
Who is Thomas
Thomas is Aramaic
Didymus is Greek
They both mean “twin”
We’re not told who his twin was
He is one of the Twelve
Jesus had chosen him as one of His closest disciples
We know from church history that Thomas took the message of Jesus Christ to India and gave his life for the Gospel while there [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 596]
John 11:16, Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (this was in response to Jesus encouraging His disciples to come with Him to see Lazarus, who had died – Thomas realized the volatility of going back to Judea so soon after the Jews had tried to stone Jesus)
John 14:1-6, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
As a realist, he would have been skeptical about the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection, which is why he may not have been together with the other disciples on that first day of the week – for Thomas, the three-year journey of faith was done – perhaps he was feeling hopeless and just wanted to be alone
Last week, Pastor Marc shared with us the episode that Thomas missed
It was on the evening of that first day of the week – the day that Jesus came alive again
The disciples were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews and Jesus miraculously appeared to them and greeted them with “peace”
He showed them His hands and side
Thomas wasn’t with them when Jesus appeared to them
“Thomas is a good warning to all of us not to miss meeting together with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament, Volume 1, 394]
Hebrews 10:22-25, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
“Remember Thomas when you are tempted to stay home from church. You never know what special blessing you might miss!” [Wiersbe, 394]
Think about a time when you didn’t “feel” like coming to church, but after you came, you left feeling refreshed, renewed, filled with joy, peace, comfort, and contentment
Early in my tenure here, we had a movement of the Holy Spirit that happened during second service that was powerful. A young man was listening to the message and as I was finishing up, he fell to his knees and began to flail around, knocking down some of the metal chairs. He stood up and came towards me. I embraced him as he kept repeating a man’s name. I asked him what we needed to know about that man. He eventually looked at me, blinked his eyes, and then said, “what just happened?” This young man had spoken with me, earlier in the week, about the man, whose name he was repeating. That man had been going through a difficult time and this young man was trying to help him. Something supernatural happened that day and not everyone in the church was there to experience it. The Holy Spirit of God was speaking through this young man and it was powerful!
Thomas had missed something supernatural and powerful and the other disciples tried to explain it to him
The disciples’ witness
In the Greek this verb is in the imperfect tense, which means it is a continual or repeated action [Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb/jhn/20/1/t_concf_1017025]
The other disciples didn’t just mention it to Thomas once, they kept on telling him
I can only imagine that the reason they kept on telling him is because he was shaking his head from side to side in disbelief
This didn’t make logical sense to Thomas, the realist
This Greek verb is in the perfect tense, meaning that it was an action completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated [Blue Letter Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/nasb/jhn/20/1/t_concf_1017025]
The disciples were telling Thomas again and again that they had seen the Lord – it was a fact – He was alive!
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we tell others about Jesus.
“The disciples who had experienced the surprising appearance of Jesus and his empowering commissioning were apparently enthusiastically ready to share the details of their postresurrection experience of ‘the Lord.’” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 312]
I always enjoy being around new believers, because their enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contagious
They aren’t complacent, apprehensive, or fearful about sharing it with anyone and everyone
For long-time believers, the enthusiasm seems to wear off, because they have been confronted with those who are skeptical and those who refuse to believe in Jesus – we are no longer enthusiastic and excited about sharing the Gospel
I believe the reason this happens in our lives is because we have a false idea of our role as messengers of the Gospel
We have this incorrect belief that if people don’t believe in Jesus, after we share the Gospel with them, that we have somehow failed God and Jesus
Our responsibility is not to convert and convince, but to communicate
1 Corinthians 3:6-7, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters in anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
Planting and watering are both forms of communicating
The planter is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual for the first time
The waterer is the one who shares the Gospel with an individual a second, third, fourth, fifth, or more times
Whether or not someone believes in Jesus, when you share the Gospel with them, does not define success or failure
When we simply communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, we succeed in God’s eyes – He is pleased!
That should change everything for us
We should be excited and enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Enthusiastically share the Gospel with my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
There are resources available in the foyer this morning for you to pick up and use to share the Gospel
Take as many as you need or will use
Now that we know success is simply communicating and not convincing or converting, let’s plant and water with enthusiasm and watch as God makes it grow!
Who will you plan to share the Gospel with this week?
The other disciples were enthusiastically and repeatedly telling Thomas that they had seen the Lord – He was alive!
What we see with Thomas’ response is that he probably got tired of the other disciples repeatedly telling him they had seen the Lord
Thomas wanted proof – he wanted to experience what the other disciples had experienced and even more
He didn’t just want to see Jesus’ hands and side
He wanted to put his fingers in the holes where the nails had been
He wanted to put his hand in the whole created by the spear
“Thomas’ words help to understand the difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, ‘I cannot believe! There are too many problems!’ Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!’” [Wiersbe, 394]
Some people are right there, right now
They are telling us that they will not believe in Jesus unless He gives them the evidence they are asking for
They want all their questions answered to their satisfaction
If God is all-loving, then why does He allow bad things to happen?
If God is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop bad things from happening?
God is both all-loving and all-powerful in addition to being sovereign, all-knowing, ever present, unchanging, infinite, holy, righteous, and so much more
It’s the arrogance of humanity to believe that we can understand all of who God is and how He operates as an infinite God
They want physical proof that God and Jesus exist
It’s the arrogance of humanity to demand that God provide the evidence we ask for before we will believe in Him
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29, But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
Ephesians 3:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.
Thomas tells the other disciples that he will not believe it without his demands being fulfilled
In the Greek there is a double negative, ou mē, which gives his declaration an emphatic push
It could be translated, “I’ll never believe it!” [Milne, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of John, 302] or “I positively will not believe!” [Wiersbe, 394]
Thomas is saying, in no uncertain terms, that if his demands for proof are not met, he will never believe that Jesus is alive
Jesus is gracious with Thomas, and his demands, and does the supernatural again, within the week
Thomas’ Belief (vv. 26-29)
All of the eleven disciples were together in the same house one week later
Perhaps the other ten disciples told Thomas not to miss this Sunday gathering
Jesus again appears to His disciples, even though they are behind locked doors
He greeted them again with “peace be with you”
I’m sure they needed peace as he supernaturally gained access to the room they thought was secure
Jesus doesn’t waste any time in challenging Thomas
Jesus basically repeats Thomas’ demands back to him
“Here you go, Thomas! Put your fingers in the nail holes in my wrists. Put your hand in the spear whole in my side.”
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus is omnipresent
“Here Jesus is teaching a lesson of great import, for in repeating Thomas’s ultimatum, it’s as if He’s saying, ‘Boys, even though you don’t see Me, I’m with you always.’” [Courson, 597]
Because Jesus is omnipresent, He hears and knows our deepest desires
This is a foundational truth principle for us as believers – Jesus is always present with us
No matter what we are going through, we can trust that He is here
Maybe you’re feeling lonely, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, worried, fearful, unsure, or concerned
You may be struggling physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and/or spiritually
Jesus is right there with you
Even if you can’t see Him or feel His presence with you, He is there
Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Claim the truth promise that Jesus is always present with me.
The second part of Jesus’ challenge is His exhortation for Thomas to stop doubting and believe
Stop doubting and believe
The literal translation of the Greek text would be, “Do not become unbelieving [apistos] but believing [pistos].” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 562] or “Do not be unbelieving but believing.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 657]
Thomas wasn’t saying that he couldn’t believe, because there were too many problems (doubt), but rather that he would not believe (unbelief), without physical proof
“Authentic believing was the issue,” not doubt [Borchert, 314]
Hebrews 3:12-13, See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Jesus’ presence, challenge, and exhortation was enough for Thomas
The only response that Thomas could have at this point was to confess who Jesus was – “My Lord and my God!”
Thomas’ confession accomplished two things
It recognized Jesus’ authority
Confessing that Jesus was his Lord, meant that Thomas was submitting to His authority as Master
We must do the same thing when we come to believe in Jesus – submit to Him as our Master
It recognized Jesus’ deity
PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus is God!
Thomas knew that only God had the power to do the supernatural
God is the only One who is always present with us and knows everything about us, including our thoughts and desires
Thomas wanted physical, material proof that Jesus was alive
Most of the time we refer to Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” and can be pretty critical of him
He was in good company though, because Peter, John, and the other disciples didn’t believe the testimony of the women, including Mary Magdalene
Peter and John had to see the empty tomb for themselves – they wanted physical and material proof
Jesus then offers a blessing over those who would never experience the physical and material proof that Thomas and the other disciples did
Jesus tells Thomas that he believed, because He was granted the physical and material proof he had demanded
Jesus then blesses those who have not seen and yet have believed
If you have believed in Jesus, He was talking about you!
You can personalize that part of verse 29 today
“Blessed is _______ (your name) who has not seen and yet has believed.” [have everyone repeat the verse with their name in it]
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.
This naturally transitions to our belief
Our Belief (vv. 30-31)
More miraculous signs
John gives us some concluding remarks, which includes the theme verse for the entire Gospel of John
John lets us know that Jesus obviously did many other miraculous signs while His disciples were with Him
We don’t know how many miraculous signs Jesus did while on earth
It’s also probable that He did miraculous signs when His disciples were not with Him
John does not record the other miraculous signs
John records eight miraculous signs in his Gospel
Turning the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-11)
Healing of the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54)
Healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-17)
Feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-14)
Jesus walking on the water (John 6:15-21)
Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-12)
Death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)
Catching of fish (John 21:1-11)
These eight miraculous signs that John records are for the purpose of helping us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God
When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then we can have life in His name
The life that John is talking about is eternal life
He says it this way in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
We are all born in sin, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. (Romans 5:12-13a)
God sent Jesus to take our punishment for sin
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Believe in Jesus and receive God’s eternal life.
We have to believe without seeing the physical and material proof of Jesus’ resurrected body
We have to believe the eye witness accounts that are recorded in the Bible
Jesus is pleased when we believe without seeing.
Are you ready to enthusiastically share the Gospel?
Do you need to claim the promise that Jesus is present with you?
Are you ready to believe in Jesus without seeing Him and receive eternal life?
Our mission is to pursue, grow, and multiple disciples for Jesus
“Jesus’ resurrection either happened or it didn't. It is objective reality; and so it cannot be true for one person and false for another. To prove this point, Sean McDowell related the following experiment:
I placed a jar of marbles in front of my students and asked, ‘How many marbles are in the jar?’ They responded with different guesses: 221, 168, and so on. Then after giving them the correct number of 188, I asked, ‘Which of you is closest to being right?’ While they all agreed that 168 was the closest guess, they understood and agreed that the number of marbles was a matter of objective fact and not one determined by personal preference.
Then I passed out Starburst candies to each student and asked, ‘Which flavor is right?’ As you might expect, they all felt this to be a nonsense question because each person had a preference that was right for them. ‘That is correct,’ I concluded. ‘The right flavor has to do with a person's preferences. It is a matter of subjective opinion or personal preference, not objective fact.’
Then I asked, ‘Are religious claims objective facts, like the number of marbles in a jar, or are they only a matter of personal opinion, like one's candy preference?’ Most students concluded that religious claims belonged in the category of candy preference. I then opened the door for us to discuss the objective claims of Christianity. I pointed out that Christianity is based on an objective historical fact—the resurrection of Jesus. I reminded them that while many people may reject the historical resurrection of Jesus, it is not the type of claim that can be ‘true for you, but not true for me.’ The tomb was either empty on the third day, or it was occupied—there is no middle ground. Before anyone can grasp the transforming power of the resurrection of Jesus, he or she must realize that it is a matter of objective fact, not of personal preference.”
Josh and Sean McDowell, “The Resurrection and You” (Baker Books, 2017), Pgs. 22-23.