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John 20: 19-31 | King James Audio Bible KJV | King James Version | Daily Verses

19 ¶ Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
24 ¶ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 ¶ And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
30 ¶ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Jesus visits the disciples, where they meet in a locked house, to bring them faith and reassurance, and to entrust them with their evangelical mission to spread the good news about Christ throughout the world.

Christ’s is now a glorified body. A locked door is no obstacle to him. He is no longer bound by the limitations of space and time. In Luke’s Gospel, we are told how the disciples are, understandably, frightened by the appearance of Jesus. They think he must be a spirit. Now, to reassure the disciples and help them to know the truth of his resurrection, Jesus offers his body to them. This, he lets them see, is Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and, as he promised, has risen from the dead. He repeats the traditional Jewish greeting: ‘Peace be unto you.’ Any fear, and any shame that the disciples must have felt at being disloyal to Jesus, are now dispelled and a friendly, intimate atmosphere established.

Jesus sends his disciples into the world by the same power with which he was sent from the Father. There is a handing on of apostolic mission. In the synoptic Gospels, the injunction is to teach. In Luke, for example, the disciples are told: ‘He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.’ John speaks of the conferring of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins which Jesus bestows upon the disciples. Jesus breathes on the disciples, recalling the life-giving breath of God, in Genesis. We are invited, through all time, to turn to Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, knowing that when we are penitent we may be reconciled; Christ will draw us to him again with open arms.

Thomas’ doubting leads Christ to offer a special proof that his resurrection has truly happened, his risen body is quite real. Jesus visits the disciples again especially for Thomas’ sake. Now Thomas is invited to explore Christ’s very wounds. These are the injuries our sins have inflicted upon Christ, and Christ retains these marks of his great sacrifice. We know that, while Christ’s crucifixion took place two thousand years ago, this, with the resurrection, was the single saving event for all time. Thomas’ doubting leads to a resurgence of faith. In our time, as we hear of Thomas touching his Master’s body, our wounds of incredulity, when we doubt and faith falters, may be healed.

In what seems to have been meant as an original conclusion to the Gospel, chapter 21 having been added later, John explains his purpose in writing, which really expands on what Jesus has said to Thomas: ‘Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’ We have been told about Christ’s life so that we may believe and be saved. We ask to receive God’s grace as we accept belief – that Jesus was and is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. The signs have been handed down to us, so that we may live through Christ’s name.

‘Now you walk by faith, as long as you journey in this mortal body far from the Lord. But Jesus Christ towards whom you are moving is a sure way. He is this in his humanity which he took on for us. He has in reserve an abundance of sweetness for those fear him, which he will manifest and perfect in those who hope in him, when we shall receive in reality what we have now received in hope.’ St Augustine

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How Might Christians Learn From Doubting Thomas?

This Gospel passage highlights the importance of faith and the transformative power of encountering the risen Christ. Yet, it also acknowledges the reality of doubt and the need for believers to wrestle with uncertainties.

Firstly, it is important to recognize the complexity of Doubting Thomass character and the various interpretations of his actions. Some religious authorities have seen Saint Thomas as lacking faith and as a negative example to be avoided. Others have emphasized his honesty and his willingness to seek proof.

One way that Christians might learn from Doubting Thomas is by acknowledging the reality of doubt and the importance of questioning. Doubt is a natural and common experience in the life of faith, and Thomass story shows us that even the disciples, who witnessed firsthand Jesus teachings and miracles, struggled to fully believe in the resurrection. As theologian Richard Rohr states: Faith is not a leap into the unknown but a willing surrender to mystery. (The Naked Now) Doubt and uncertainty can be seen as opportunities for growth and exploration rather than as signs of weakness or failure.

Another way that Christians might learn from Doubting Thomas is by recognizing the value of encountering the risen Christ. When Jesus appears before the disciples and invites Thomas to touch his wounds, Thomas experiences a transformative encounter that leads him to declare, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28) This encounter is a reminder that faith is not simply a set of beliefs or doctrines but a personal relationship with Christ.

Additionally, Christians might learn from Doubting Thomas by being open to the possibility of encountering Christ in unexpected ways. When Thomas declared his skepticism, he likely did not expect to encounter Jesus again and certainly did not expect to touch his wounds. Yet, through this encounter, he was able to experience the reality of the resurrection. As Saint Augustine wrote: God had in store for Thomas something better than his unbelief deserved. (Sermon 248)

Finally, Christians might learn from Doubting Thomas by recognizing the importance of community and accountability in the life of faith. When Thomas declared his doubt, he did so in the context of his fellow disciples. His skepticism was not met with condemnation or rejection but with an invitation to join in their experience of encountering the risen Christ. This story is a reminder that faith is not a solitary pursuit but a communal one, where we are called to support and challenge one another in our journey of discipleship.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th Century, wrote about the role of faith and reason in the story of Doubting Thomas. He saw Thomass skepticism as a product of his rational mind, which needed evidence to believe in something. Aquinas believed that faith and reason were not in conflict but rather complemented one another. In his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas writes: To one who has faith no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Martin Luther, Protestant reformer of the 16th Century, saw the story of Doubting Thomas as a reminder of the importance of faith over works. Luther believed that faith alone was necessary for salvation, and that good works could not earn salvation. In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Luther writes: Faith alone, without any merit of works, justifies and saves sinners.

In the 20th Century, theologian and writer C.S. Lewis wrote about the significance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and its impact on the story of Doubting Thomas. Lewis saw Thomass encounter with the risen Christ as a testimony to the physical nature of the resurrection, and the importance of the body in Christian belief. In his book Miracles Lewis writes: The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts… it is precisely what convinces the hearers that what these men are saying is not the tale of a ghost but a fact.

Contemporary writer and pastor Timothy Keller has emphasized the importance of doubt and questioning in the life of faith, drawing upon the example of Doubting Thomas. In his book The Reason For God Keller writes: A faith without some doubts is like a human body with no antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.

In conclusion, the story of Doubting Thomas offers valuable insights into the complexities of faith, doubt, and encounter with the risen Christ. By acknowledging the reality of doubt, being open to unexpected encounters with Christ, and participating in community and accountability, Christians can deepen their understanding of what it means to have faith in the living God.