“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”
This account is from the eyes of Thomas who separated himself from the other disciples after the betrayal by Judas in the garden. He did not see them again for eight (8) days after Jesus appeared to the others. Thomas became disappointed and did not want to see anyone. Doesn’t that sound like many of us when we are discouraged? We stay away from those who could help encourage us.
The meaning of the cross, the resurrection, and the words of Jesus were just starting to come together for 10 of the original disciples plus the women who proved to be more committed and more brave than the men who watched the crucifixion from a distance (except James and John). The disciples had seen Jesus on the third day after his death (1st Day of the week-Sunday). Jesus began to build up their faith by not only appearing to them alive, but by teaching them from the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) about Himself. This is the books of the Bible we call the Old Testament.
“Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”
Their faith, indeed, began to grow as they heard Jesus give them a Bible study on how it was fulfilled in Himself, but Thomas was not with them and missed this important revelation. Choosing, perhaps, to reevaluate everything that had happened. He, like the disciples earlier in the week, was terribly disappointed and depressed. He had hoped Jesus would save Israel and himself. The cross seemed to dash all hopes of any deliverance!
How often do we miss the blessing of Bible study due to our depression and desire to be alone? May Thomas’ story teach us to believe and trust and not to doubt.
Greetings. I am Thomas, one of his original 12 disciples. I was commissioned by Jesus to do mighty works for the kingdom of God, but I am confused and skeptical, just as you may be. Allow me to tell you what I know.
I have not seen the other disciples since the night of the Preparation Day. We had eaten the Passover supper and looked forward to a festive weekend.
But most of us were scattered like sheep without a Shepard when Jesus was taken at the garden and then sent to trial and was crucified. I saw Peter on the other side of the hill weeping on that horrible day. My own tears were bitter and soaked my garments as they took that precious innocent man I had come to love and nailed him like an animal to a cruel wooden cross.
I know that Jesus is dead! I saw him beaten, scourged and eventually expire on a Roman cross. He was a bloody mess after the all day cruelty and beatings. He died on the afternoon of the Preparation Day. This is the day you Gentiles call Friday. It is the day us Jews and some of the converts prepare for the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship. I have always enjoyed the Sabbath especially with Jesus, but this Sabbath was different.
We all retreated to a secret spot to literally rest from the exhausting events of the previous 24 hours, but our souls were not at rest. The women had seen the body of Jesus and were resting according to the Sabbath commandment. Their plan was to go to the tomb of Jesus at the rising of the sun on the First Day of the week to prepare his body for burial.
The Scribes and Pharisees wanted Jesus dead because they said He claimed to be God and that he could tear down the temple and build it again in three days. Often Jesus would say things like this that made little sense to me. But, later he would explain it to His followers and we could see its true meaning.
Since the religious leaders didn’t want Jesus and the two thieves hanging on the cross during the Sabbath, they broke the legs of the thieves to hurry the death process. When a man is hanging on the cross with broken legs, he is unable to push up against the nails in his feet and its platform to get a breath with their legs broken. The diaphragm will collapse in such a way that they gasp for air and suffocate.
Such a disgusting and uncomfortable slow death, but since the Sabbath was only a few hours from starting, the three on the hill, called Golgotha, were fortunate and did not have to suffer for days… as have many others. The Romans are so cruel! But, I don’t blame them. It was our own religious leaders that pushed and pushed until they finally got what they wanted…the scourging and death of Jesus.
But, when the soldiers came to Jesus, they noticed He was already dead and did not break His legs but rather took a sword and pierced His side just to make sure. Blood and water came forth. I saw it even though I watched from a distance to protect myself from the same fate. It was horrible! It took the air out of me (so to speak) and made me wonder why I followed Jesus in the first place. So, I know Jesus to be dead, even as the women when they went to His tomb that Friday afternoon to look at his body and to prepare spices to anoint Him early on the 1st Day of the week (Sunday morning).
It has been reported that Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had cast out 7 demons, said she had seen Jesus at the tomb with two angels. But, I don’t know about her. She did have demons didn’t she? Jesus cast out her demons, but maybe one was left over and it is making her mad. The whole city must be mad, because it is also reported many people who were dead were resurrected and appeared to many! I have not seen any, but I must admit I have not been going out much lately. I feel lost and with no purpose or direction. I just want to sleep.
Then I hear that about eight days ago on the day you Gentiles call Sunday, Cleopas and his friend were on their way to Emmaus and had an encounter with a spirit or something. It was reported to me by the other disciples that a stranger, spent a good three hours giving a comparative study of the writings of the Tanakh or the Old Testament as you call it. As they walked down the dusty road towards Emmaus the stranger told them about how Jesus could be found all through scripture. As they began to understand from the Tanakh about Jesus. They could see why He had to die on the cross,. It is reported they said, it made their “hearts burn within them.”
I do remember Jesus saying something about dying and being resurrected, but it was so far from my thinking that I put it out of my mind.
Cleopas (one of the two men on the road to Emmaus) reported that when they reached their destination, they begged him to stay and tell them more of what he knew. But, the stranger turned out to be Jesus himself! They apparently recognized him as He broke bread and then He disappeared. Can you image that? He just disappeared!
They then raced the 7 or 8 miles back to Jerusalem with the news of what had just happened. But the disciples were skeptical, as I am.
Now the other disciples are claiming Jesus showed up at their meeting and that He also gave them a comparative study from the Tanakh about Himself. He then asked for something to eat and he ate some fish.
So that is what I know so far. It is all only rumor and wishful thinking as far as I am concerned. Tragic events like this can lead you to think weird things.
I think I will walk over and see how my friends are doing. The last time I saw them, they were fearful and unbelieving as I am, but something has come over them this last week. They swear they have seen Jesus.
As I walk in, I notice the doors are not shut and there is a certain confidence in the countenance of each one. Peter rushes over to me and says,
“We have seen the Lord!”
My response is quick and to the point,
“Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
I am serious too! His death has been difficult to both understand and accept. My mind begins to fall back to those final moments before he died. He said,
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
What did He mean by this? Is there more to this than forgiveness?
As I am thinking about this, I look up and right there in front of me is Jesus! But….Jesus…you….are… Am I seeing a spirit? I don’t believe in ghosts! Then I hear His voice and His words:
Thomas…. “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
I take my trembling finger and place it on the place where the nails were…both hands! It is strange, to feel a scar where I saw nails piercing his skin only a week or so ago. I reach out and put my hand inside His robe and feel the warmth of His skin and the scar where the sword had been. I then look up at His eyes and I see the kindness and royalty of a wise and gentle king and savior. He IS alive! I fall at his feet and say in remorse and acknowledgment.
“My Lord and my God!”
Jesus told Thomas these important words:
“Thomas,because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20: 29
How Important is the Resurrection in your life? How important is studying the Old Testament to find Jesus? Has your search for Jesus been confined to only a small portion of God’s word?
We will never have the experience (before Jesus returns) that Thomas had when he touched the risen and glorified body of Jesus. But we can still find evidence which will result in faith to believe that Jesus is alive and is preparing a place for those who believe and love Him. You see, faith is based on substance and evidence.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
If Christ was not raised, then the disciples are liars we have no hope and we are not saved from anything. Those who have “fallen asleep” in Christ have perished. And when we sleep in Christ, there is no resurrection for us. If we only have a Christ that died and did not come back to life, He is just like every other person who claims to be God. Follow the logic of Paul’s argument in the following portion of scripture:
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 1 Corinthians 15: 12-19
Here is the logic:
If Resurrection is not possible, nor important, then Jesus has not been raised.
If Jesus has not been raised then preaching and teaching is in vain.
If Preaching and teaching is vain then faith is empty (It has no substance-nor basis).
If faith is empty then that means the disciples are false witnesses because they said they saw him alive.
If the Disciples are false witnesses then Christ is not risen.
If Christ is not risen then our faith in Christ is futile. All those who have died have perished.
Since there is no hope of a resurrection, we are of men, most pitiable.
Paul told us that he did not want us to be ignorant about the resurrection and those who have fallen asleep (died). If we are ignorant about it, we will sorrow like everyone else that does not have hope. But, the fact that Jesus died and was resurrected gives us the hope of one day coming back to life through the resurrection:Our hope is that Jesus is all that He claimed to be. He claims to have the keys of the grave and death (Revelation 1:8). He claims to be the resurrection and the life and even though we die, we will live again. John 11:25
“ But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (died), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring (resurrect) with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14
Paul goes so far as to provide us with the clearest passage in the Bible about the day when all who have died in Christ will be resurrected. It will happen this way: The Lord will descend from heaven. It will be loud because there is a shout and a loud trumpet. Also the sky will be lit up with the angels and the glory of the Jesus and the Father.
Those in the grave will hear his voice and will meet with those who are alive at the 2nd coming and meet them in the air. This is the start of eternity with Jesus. This picture described by Paul is the comfort us who are to be resurrected one day we will all be reunited with those alive at His coming. Not at any other time, but at His second coming:
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
I Thessalonians 4:15-18
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27 (Note: our reward is when he comes)
Then the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. Matthew 25:31
So how important is the resurrection? It is critical to our salvation:
“… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Why is the resurrection not discussed more? It is the bedrock of the faith we follow regarding Jesus.
Many of the writers of the Bible believed in and put their hope in the resurrection. Here is but a few:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27
Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.Isaiah 26:19
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2
“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” Psalm 17:15
Of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead Hebrews 11:18
There is no precedence for the resurrection except for Jesus. No other person has raised themselves from the dead. Jesus said this about the resurrection:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
Until the Lord returns, the dead sleep and wait for the last day when Jesus will raise them up. What a day that will be!
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3: 20-21
Look again at the resurrection of Jesus and His body. Here you will see what our bodies shall look like. As the verse above , and many other, tells us: We “wait” for that glorious day when He returns and changes us. It is not until that day that we can say,
“Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
We cannot say this at a funeral. The context tells us, these words cannot be said, until our risen Savior returns and changes our bodies like to his risen body:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? :1 Corinthians 15: 51-55
In conclusion, let us not be a doubting Thomas, but believe. We are promised a blessing if we do believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and that He is able to do the same for us! He has promised to do that very thing when he returns. Oh what a day that will be!