News of the resurrection had reached the disciples. It was wonderful news but surely some of them must have been nervous about seeing him again; they had let him down after all. They needn’t have worried, Jesus came, not with judgement, but with a greeting of peace (three times! 20:19, 20:21, 20:26).
The disciples were understandably afraid. The events of the previous week had been traumatic. Jesus greeting must have thrilled them, he was alive, it was true and just to make sure it was him; he showed them his hands and his side. It’s an incredible thought that in the beauty of heaven there is something manmade; the nail prints.
John did not record the Great Commission like Matthew but here we have it summed up in ten words from Jesus. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus commissioned his disciples and by implication, all believers, to share the Good News with everyone. As I heard someone say; it isn’t the great suggestion.
Jesus didn’t expect the eleven to go off in their own strength; he equipped them with the Holy Spirit. He had told them about this on his last night and they would not receive the Spirit in his fullness until Pentecost but they certainly received a measure of the Spirit. In Luke we are told that Jesus; ‘opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures’ (Luke 24:45).
Verse 23 is difficult so here is what it says in Zondervan NIV Commentary;
‘God does not forgive people’s sins because we decide to do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we will not grant it. We announce it; we do not create it. This is the essence of salvation.’
One of the disciples, Thomas, was missing at Jesus’ first appearance to his disciples and he was extremely sceptical of their claim. I suppose it was understandable, he had witnessed Jesus being brutally tortured to death. But a week later Jesus made another appearance to the disciples and this time Thomas is present. It seems this appearance was just for Thomas and Jesus knew exactly what Thomas had said a week earlier. So he isn’t surprised when we have doubts. Jesus didn’t demand an apology, he met Thomas in his doubts; “Put your finger here; see my hands”. I feel a bit sorry for Thomas, forever labelled ‘Doubting Thomas’. He had shown a willingness to die for his Lord earlier (11:16) and according to tradition, died in India having travelled there so share the Gospel. He doesn’t sound like a doubter to me. Of course he doubted the truth of the resurrection but when he was confronted with the risen Christ, he uttered one of the greatest statements about Jesus; “My Lord and my God!” it sums up what John has been telling us for twenty chapters.
I’ve referred to verses 30-31 a number of times as we’ve journeyed through this Gospel. They are perhaps the keys verses in the account. They reveal John’s motivation;
‘But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’
The question is; do you believe? The evidence has been stacking up!
‘I believe in God our Father,
I believe in Christ the Son,
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Our God is three in One.
I believe in the resurrection,
That we will rise again,
For I believe in the Name of Jesus.’ (Ben Fielding, Matt Crocker)