- Matthew Haan
John 20:24-31 - So That You May Believe
The Bible isn't just a book of stories and archaic rules... it's written so that you may have life.
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Read John 20:24-31
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 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.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 22
Q What then must a Christian believe?
A. Everything God promises us in the gospel.
That gospel is summarized for us
in the articles of our Christian faith—
a creed beyond doubt,
and confessed throughout the world.
This episode that takes place a full week after Jesus' resurrection is exactly why we often prefix Thomas' name with the word Doubting. Thomas had missed out on Jesus' earlier appearance to the other disciples, and then he dismissed their excited claims by stating that he not only needed to see Jesus alive, but he also needed to touch His wounds before he would believe.
Jesus accommodated his request. But this grace quickly transitioned into a command to Thomas, and others like him: "Stop doubting, and believe (v27)."
Instantly, Thomas' need for tangible proof disappears. He no longer needs to touch the nail marks on Jesus' hands; rather he simply affirms His Savior's command with a beautifully simple statement of faith: "My Lord and my God (v28)."
Jesus accepts Thomas' profession, but as He does so, He broadens the audience He's speaking to. No longer is He just conversing with Thomas, or even with the other disciples in the room; in v29 He's talking directly to you and me: those who've not physically seen Jesus, but yet believe.
Throughout John’s gospel Jesus has been talking to us... in fact, by the power of the Holy Spirit, He's been talking to you. He is talking about the faith that you've been given, and here He commands you to stop doubting and believe.
Today we've been presented with a basic, foundational question that you have to know the answer to: What must a Christian believe?
The answer is simple and yet profound. We are called to believe everything God promises of in the gospel, and believe it beyond doubt with a confession that reaches out into the world.
Is your faith doing that?
Martin Luther said that doubt is a place that we will all visit, but we must never build our home there. When you find yourself doubting your faith, reread the gospel of John - it will only take half an hour to read the whole thing. As you do so, underline each time there is a promise for you the reader.
After all, John tells us exactly why he wrote these words down in v31: "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."
Strengthen your faith in the gospel so that you would live beyond doubt.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Heavenly Father I confess that there are times that I doubt your work, your mercy, your grace, and your forgiveness.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Bring the fire of faith to burn brightly again that any lingering doubts would be consumed in your glory. Teach me your ways today.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Acts 18