John 20: 24-31 – The World of the Text, Part Two

After our Holy Week together, through the next 50 days, leading up to Pentecost, we are going to take a deeper look each week at different encounters that individuals have with Jesus after the Resurrection.  This week we are going to take a deeper look at a story that I’m sure many of us are familiar with, or at least familiar with the nickname that emerged from it – Doubting Thomas.  Today we’ll look at the world of the text of John 20:24-31:

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin, one of the twelve, 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 the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, 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. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt 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 come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

rootedchristToday we look at Thomas’ actual encounter with Jesus.  We see that the disciples are meeting behind shut (or locked) doors. The significance of this is that this was a normal barrier that would keep someone from being able to enter into this room.  But this was not something that could stop the resurrected Jesus.  He comes right on in.  He not bound by the normal things that would stop one of us.  Post resurrection, he transcends normal human situations.

We see this quite often in post-Easter encounters. But there is something else that is consistent.  While Jesus does not operate in the same way that you or I would, we also see that Jesus is very much alive, very much human, and very back from the dead.  He is not a spirit.  He is not a ghost.  He is not a disembodied spirit.  He is fully alive.  Full resurrected, fully physical.  This is huge.  It man not seem like much to me and you, but one of the earliest heresies in the early church was that of Gnosticism. The gnostics believed that the body was bad, and the spirit was good.  So, they believed that after the resection, Jesus was really just a spirit.  That is not what the Bible teaches.  You’ll notice so many times in the next few weeks how often Jesus does things after Easter that are physical.

He was not a disembodied spirit. He was physical.  He had and has a true spiritual body.  Why does this matter?  Your body matters.  If you are just a spirit, then your body doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter how you live or what you do, as long as you are “spiritual” then your life and choices don’t’ matter.

That simply is not Christian. Your body matters.  That is why Paul says that it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  What you do matters.  How you live matters.  Your choices matter.
Thomas touches.  Sees, experiences, and believes.  He touches.  And now, He believes.  He overcomes His doubt. Jesus says blessed are those who don’t see or feel or experience, and still believe. For our experience is that of faith.

Which is what it takes to please God.  Faith.

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