The Rebuilding of Faith - John 20:19-31
The Rebuilding of Faith
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.” 26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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.
Introduction: A story is told of a shipwrecked crew who had been drifting for days in a small boat off the coast of Brazil. They were suffering the horrors of thirst but they dare not drink the seawater because the salt would make it even worse. They saw a vessel coming towards them, and called out, "Water, water!" "Dip your bucket over the side" they were told. They thought they were being mocked. But no, the water was fresh. They had drifted into the flow of the mighty River Amazon bearing fresh water far out to sea.
Purpose: Every Christ follower comes to the place from time to time where they need a fresh revelation of Jesus in their lives
Transition: The disciples and later Thomas would realize that their doubt and despair would be immediately changed into hope and joy!!
Overcoming despair with hope
John 20:19 – 20
19 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.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
- Jesus appearance brings joy
- On the evening of the Resurrection
- All the disciples minus Judas and Thomas are in probably the upper room where they had the Last Supper
- Doors locked fearful of the Jewish leaders coming and taking them away
- Jesus appears. He just shows up. I don’t know if He passed through the door or He just was transported invisibly and appeared but He appeared
- Notice He said twice in this section of scripture “Peace be with you.”
- This complimented what He last said on the cross “It is Finished”.
- The cross brought peace by the work Jesus finished at the cross
Ephesians 2:14 – 18
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
- Jesus was reassuring His disciples that it was Him by showing them the nail prints in His hands and the scar in His side
38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
- After the offer to touch His side and Jesus eating the fish, they were filled with joy!! Could you imagine the elation in their hearts that Jesus was alive?
- Talk about despair and discouragement turning into instant joy.
- Second, we see that;
- Jesus appearance brings a challenge
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
- Jesus shares a preview of the Great Commission He will share with His disciples approximately 50 days later.
- He was commissioning the disciples to go out and share the promise of eternal life and make disciples because Jesus was resurrected from the dead
- In verse 22, it says that Jesus breathed on them. That was symbolic and prophetic of what would happen on the Day of Pentecost
- Ten of the original twelve disciples are present. Judas is dead and as we will see in a moment, Thomas is not with them either
- Jesus is talking about and preparing them for the new covenant He spoke of in John 14, 16, with the HS coming and at the Last Supper
- The Holy Spirit would come and indwell the believer unlike the OT where the Spirit would come and go. In the OT the Holy Spirit was not available universally but would come to individuals from time to time
- The HS will empower the disciples
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- The HS will bring spiritual gift packages to each believer – I Corinthians 12:4-11
- Jesus is completing the transaction from the OT covenant to the NT covenant
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
- The Roman Catholic Church misinterprets this verse. This verse is the reference they use for apostolic authority to forgive sins to be passed down to the priest
- Scripture in every other place you look in the Bible says that ONLY God can forgive sins. God alone
- There is no NT record of any of the apostles forgiving anyone’s sins
- The church has delegated authority from Jesus
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
- A Christian can declare that a sinner is forgiven or not forgiven based on their response to the Gospel and based on God’s Word. – Matthew 18:15 – 20
- Church Discipline
- Whatever the scripture affirms Christians can dogmatically and unhesitating affirm.
- The Church’s authority comes only from scripture and NOT outside of it because Christ is the head of the church – Ephesians 1:22; 5:23;
- Colossians 3:16 – the Word of Christ has the supreme authority in the church
- When any believer speaks in accord with God’s Word, they can be confident God stands in agreement with them.
- Proclaiming the forgiveness of sins was the prominent feature of the apostolic preaching in the Book of Acts. Jesus was giving the apostles (and by extension, the church) the privilege of announcing heaven’s terms on how a person can receive forgiveness. If one believes in Jesus, then a Christian has the right to announce his forgiveness. If a person rejects Jesus’ sacrifice, then a Christian can announce that that person is not forgiven. - Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 343). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
- Jesus gave these ten disciples and those in the room with them great hope.
- They were so infused with joy to see Jesus who was their close friend and partner in ministry.
- They were processing His words about going out and sharing the good news.
- They had experience going from despair to hope and could share it with others.
Application: Jesus wants us to minister to others with great hope
Transition: Not only did Jesus bring them hope but evidence for their hearts to believe and evidence for others who were searching to believe.
Overcoming doubt with evidence
- The words of doubt
John 20:24 – 25
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.”
- We all suffer from time to time with doubt in our lives.
- Doubts of whether we are saved or not
- Doubts of whether we can change a behavior or not
- Doubts about the future and its uncertainty
- Doubts about keeping our job, our finances, the fear of being able to meet the needs of our family or our spouses needs
- Doubts, they come to us in waves from time to time
- Thomas was dealing with doubts to what he had given his life to
- Thomas called Didymus or twin was an eternal pessimist. Clouds hung over his life and attitude like Eyeore, the Walt Disney character.
- He probably was off alone and away from everyone else. Everyone processes grief differently.
Illustration: Doubt sees the obstacles; / Faith sees the way./ Doubt sees the darkest night; / Faith sees the day./ Doubt dreads to take a step; / Faith soars on high. / Doubt questions, "Who believes?"/ Faith answers, "I!"
- The disciples excitedly reveal to Thomas that they had seen the Lord!
Illustration: There are two kinds of Christians I find in general. Those who have child like faith and those who want evidence inside and outside the Bible to back up their faith. Lyn Seedorf had child like faith. Dorrie Orr had child like faith. But I want to know the evidence behind it. Thomas was like that group that wanted proof and oh did Jesus provide it.
- The disciples along with Thomas scoffed at the reports of Jesus resurrection in Mark 16, and Luke 24
- It is important to note here that Thomas’ doubt was not greater but his sorrow was greater!!!
- Then Jesus comes in for a loving and compassionate conversation with Thomas. I believe that any and all who personally seek to find God, He will personally work in your life and circumstances to reveal Himself uniquely to each individual in their own personal way. Testimonies bare that out.
- The words of commitment
John 20:26 – 28
26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
- Jesus met Thomas at his point of doubt and weakness to answer the questions
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
- He comes and gives Thomas empirical proof of His resurrection
- Thomas is overwhelmed and makes the greatest confession of all of the disciples maybe even greater than Peter’s earlier confession in Matthew 16.
- Jesus accepts Thomas’ affirmation and shows that He truly is once again in this gospel who He said He was, the very Son of God.
- The words of promise by Jesus and John
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
- Jesus is looking to the future when physical evidence will not be available.
- The future Christ followers will have a great measure of the Holy Spirit to empower faith in the Resurrection
2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight
I John 3:2 - 3
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure
Illustration: One day, the most famous person in the world, the most High God of the universe will look at me face to face. The movie “I Can Only Imagine.” One look from Jesus will be worth it all.
- Jesus did not imply or mention anything that would show that Thomas’ faith was defective!
- God will work with us if we have any amount of faith
John 20:30 - 31
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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.
- Those who have nor or will not see the risen Lord will depend on this Gospel of John as well as the other Gospel writers for evidence to believe on Christ as Savior
- Jesus performed many miracles which were signs of who He was and is but the greatest sign of all, by far, is the resurrection.
- The signs point to the purpose John wants to get across in verse 31.
- This is the purpose and summary statement of this Gospel
- Jesus is God incarnate (John 1:1, 14)
- He is the Lamb of God – (John 1:29)
- He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
- If anyone will believe in the truth of the Gospel they will receive forgiveness of sin and receive life in His name both now and forever – John 3:16
- Jesus desire is for all to believe in Him
- John points to Jesus miracles as a sign that He truly is the Son of God and that He is the only path to the Father and to heaven – John 14:6
- John also wants people to believe in Christ because of the story He has written as an eyewitness account of who Jesus is
- John wants people to have life, life right now, abundant life, a fulfilled and purpose filled life in Christ
- Jesus says in verse 21 He is sending out the disciples to share the Good News of His resurrection
- We are to be His ambassadors to do the same thing just a long time later in history
- I came here nine years ago to see “changed lives.” – Saved and growing in Christ
- Our focus needs to be on the needs of others within our congregation and those who need Jesus yet. We are of to a good start with our Connect groups since January 14th. We have had a three week break from them but they pick back up this morning at 10:45 am.
- We don’t want to get distracted from our purpose of gathering which is for worship, evangelism and discipleship
- Let’s work through our process of hiring a Student Ministry Director. Let’s work through Pastor Paul’s transition in ministry responsibilities and support him well
- Let’s ask questions and get clarification
- But let’s do it all in a spirit of unity
- Remember, our church must not be a Carnival Cruise Line but a Battleship
- It must be an Emergency Room of a hospital, a triage for people in urgent need but not a Retirement Center
- The elders and our church family must be like the Marines, a lean and mean fighting unit. The few, the proud, the Marines
- The elders need your trust and support because we are on the front lines and we are the first ones in Satan’s cross hairs to attack.
- The enemy is out there not here. We must focus on those who don’t realize just yet they need Jesus and to build and equip each other to be more like Jesus
- We do that by Connecting with God and others in relationship, Growing in that relationship with God and others and Serving our Lord in our church, community and around the world.
- We must tell others about Jesus
- My prayer is that with the churches in Bettendorf, Cross Point – Jim Powell, Our Savior Lutheran – Pastor Keith, Heritage – Justin Barnes, First Baptist – Pastor Corey, BCC – Pastor Tim, River of Life Church – Pastor Jim Tulley and other Bible preaching Bible teaching churches that we would make it hard for anyone to go to hell because we are communicating through our lives, through our words and actions that Christ transforms lives.
- That my friends, was Jesus and John the apostle’s focus, that needs to be ours as well.
Application: Jesus wants us to minister to others with confidence in His promises
Key Thought: Blessed are you who follow Jesus by faith with or without evidence and not by sight
Purpose: Every Christ follower comes to the place from time to time where they need a fresh revelation of Jesus in their lives
Illustration: Max Lucado and fishing.
If fisherman do not fish and don’t catch any fish, they will start grumbling and complaining among themselves They will become focused on themselves. We are called to be fishers of men and women. Let’s keep our focus on the real needs and where the real enemy lies.
Three Questions to Ponder This Week
1. Do you live by faith in the Word of God alone or do you need more evidence to believe?
2. Do you seek after God with your whole heart when you are dealing with doubt in your life?
3. Do you need a fresh touch from Jesus this week? Ask Him and He will respond!!