- The capture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is over
- The brutal treatment of him at the hands of Roman soldiers is over
- The trial that found him guilty is over
- The torturing and twisting of his body is over
- The cruel fastening of his body to an old rugged cross is over
- The bleeding wounds from his head, hands, feet and pierced side is over
- The retrieval of his body from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus is over
- The burial of his body in a freshly dug grave is over is over
- The search for his body by the women who visit the tomb is over
All that Jesus had gone through is over
His earthly body has been resurrected
His mission to redeem man has been completed.
The resurrection has happened and the very foundation of the New Testament Church has been secured.
The question now is “What’s next?”
It is the gospel writer John that provides for us the most complete and comprehensive picture of the next sequence of events.
While Matthew, Mark and Luke all report on what we now call the “post-resurrection” events of the master
It is John that is the most specific and the most detailed in his account of how Jesus continued His earthly ministry for a season, after the cross.
According to John, Jesus convenes a family reunion of His disciples just one week after His resurrection.
On the one hand the summons to return to the same upper room where He last broke bread with them was redundant and repetitive since John tells us that He had seen nearly all of his disciples during the course of the previous week.
But I imagine that Jesus was not prepared to return to the right hand side of His Father until all of the disciples that He had spent time with and invested in had been securely bonded to the reality of his resurrection.
John tells us that what makes this meeting of the disciples different from the previous encounters of the week is that Thomas, also called Didymus, who had not been present earlier was there to see for himself that Jesus was alive.
Permit me to insert right here that it is the preference of Jesus that none be lost and all be saved.
Jesus loves each person so much that His heart’s desire is that they spend eternity with Him.
Now the choice is up to each individual
You can choose to receive him into your life or you can choose to reject him.
But HIS intent is that every person be saved and so He refused to return to heaven without giving Thomas an opportunity to choose Jesus for himself.
And the Bible goes on to tell us that he had delayed his second coming until the whole world has heard his gospel and everyone has had opportunity to come to know Jesus
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Why? Because he wants all humankind to live with Him in Heaven.
John 20:23-31 “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.”
When I look at this passage that details the reaction and response of Thomas, I am actually impressed and understand his response.
Picture this, the other disciples come and find Thomas and tell him that Jesus the Messiah has returned from the dead, resurrected and lives again.
What Thomas says, on the surface, sounds like the height of suspicion and doubt “Until I see the nail-print in his hand and the wound in his side, I will not believe”.
Actually, Thomas makes an incredible point and that is you are telling me what you are telling me because you have seen Jesus for yourself.
You are not telling me this because somebody told you, you are telling me this because of what you have seen.
In other words, Thomas is saying am I not entitled to have the benefit of the same experience as you. Am I not a disciple?
- I was there when He fed the hungry just like you
- I was there when He healed the sick just like you
- I was there when He gave sight to the blind just like you
- I was there when He cleansed the lepers just like you
- I was there when He called Lazarus from the grave just like you
- If you are going to expect me to have the same excitement and enthusiasm that you have and are sharing with me
- If you expect me to risk life and limb going around preaching this story
- If you expect me to travel the world and convince others to follow Jesus
- Then I want to have the same experience that you have had.
Because while I am preaching and traveling somebody just might ask me how do I really know that Jesus is alive and I do not want to have to say because Peter told me or because James told me or because John told me.
I want to be able to say I know that He lives because I have seen and encountered Him for myself.
I do not want a “they said so” gospel – – – I want my own story.
Saints, you have to have your own story.
If I stand here and say that God will be a mother to the mother-less and a father to the father-less, for me, that’s a “they said so” testimony because I was blessed not be mother-less or father-less.
I can at best only tell you what I heard somebody who has lost a mother or has lost a father has said.
But when I tell you the Lord will make a way out where they is no way and change your life forever ….
For me, that’s not a “they said so” testimony
I am telling you what I have seen God do for me and in me
Each of us needs to have our own testimony … and a current part – of a testimony
Something that has happened today – this week
And when we speak, we are not talking about what somebody told us
We are talking about what we have seen God do personally
You see, Thomas was really saying I am not doubting Jesus;
I am just doubting those of you who are telling me the story.
I have been around you boys long enough to know that there are some defects in your character and I am not prepared to commit my life to a proposition based upon what you say.
Nathaniel, you are prejudicial and biased – “can anything good come out of Nazareth”
Phillip, you have been guilty of mistaken identity, you said “show us the Father” missing who Jesus really was
James and John, you are backstabbing wanting Jesus to put you on his right and left
Peter, you denied him three time
Matthew, despite being my twin brother, you have stolen tax money
No if I am going to preach a gospel of a risen Saviour
I do not want to base my sharing and my sermons on what you say
I would rather base my sermons on what I know for myself.
So the Bible says that a week later Jesus joins Thomas and the other disciples in the upper room.
Notice in the scripture that Jesus walks directly to Thomas and says, in so many words
“Thomas I am here for you and since you said that you needed to see My hands and see My side, here they are – – – take your own look so that you won’t be without faith but like the other disciples here you can have your own testimony.”
Now it is this next moment that is most impressive to me.
Thomas responds by saying, “My Lord and my God”.
Notice, Thomas never does what he previously stated he had to do in order to believe.
- He rejects his own criteria.
- He never does put his finger in print of the nail.
- He never does put his hand in the gapping wound of his side.
- He takes just one look at Jesus and says “My Lord and My God.”
Now the term My Lord and My God is a two-fold term.
My Lord means that you have dominion over my life here on earth:
- I can trust you,
- I can follow you,
- I can submit my whole life to you,
- I believe in you,
- I can stand with you,
- I can depend on you
Next he says “My God”
My God refers to his eternity, to his supreme power and authority.
When Thomas says “my God” he is acknowledging that even when life on earth down here is no more he will still have a relationship with God.
God is not bound by time and space but eternity is His home, which means that if He is my Lord here on earth He will be my God for all eternity.
Yes I am thankful for all that God does for me here on earth.
But all that He does for me here on earth cannot compare what He will do with me in eternity:
- When my body weakens and succumbs to death, He will be with me on the other side
- When I can no longer preach and all ministry ends, He will be with me on the other side
- When my body returns to the dust, He will be with me on the other side
- When they write my name on my gravestone, He will be with me on the other side
- When my name becomes but a memory, He will be with me on the other side
- When all that is left are the sermons I have preached, He will be with me on the other side
That’s because not only is He my Lord here on earth, He is my God for all eternity.
So Thomas says to Jesus, “I thought I needed to put my finger in Your hand and my hand in Your side, but just one look at Your face has convinced me that You are who You say You are and You are worthy of my worship.”
Just one look will:
- Put faith in a person’s heart
- Make a drunk put down the bottle
- Make a drug addict throw away their needle
- Help a person clean up their life
- Make you love your enemies
- Make you cease your lying
- Make you backup on your backbiting
- Make a person stop stealing
- Make every person turn from their wicked ways
Just one look from Jesus can make your life brand new.
Thomas believed because he had the opportunity to see him.
But Jesus anticipated that everybody would not sit in the chair that Thomas sat in so He established:
- A new blessing for those who could not fit in that upper room that day.
- A new blessing for those who were not available with Thomas and the other disciples.
- A new blessing for those who had not been born yet.
Jesus says, “Thomas, you believe because you have seen Me, but more blessed are those who believe and have seen not.”
Jesus says that Thomas was a believer because he had seen the resurrected Jesus
But Jesus goes on to say that you and I are blessed.
- We were not there in the upper room
- We were not there at the foot of the cross
- We were not there to watch him disappear into the heavens
- We were not there to see him eat bread and fish after His resurrection
- We were not there see his hands, side and feet…
But Jesus said that we are blessed because we believe and have not seen.
And when Jesus says that you are blessed then you are blessed!!
- When Jesus says you are blessed no demon can steal it
- When Jesus says that you are blessed no enemy can take it
- When Jesus says that you are blessed no complainer can erase it
- When Jesus says that you are blessed no gossiper can change it
- When Jesus says that you are blessed no liar can alter it
This joy that I have – this blessing I have a a believer – the world didn’t give it to me and the world can’t take it away.
So, the celebration of Easter is over for another year … But, the message of Easter continues to impact and change lives every day – even today.