“THE SUNDAY AFTER CHRIST’S RESURRECTION”
Is it possible for someone to be an intimate of the Lord Jesus Christ, to have spent years in His company, to have observed Him at all hours of the day and night, to have never a memory of a personal sin committed by Him or a sin of omission resulting from Him not doing what He should have done, and still not be a believer? Yes, it is possible, since that was the experience of His half-brother James.
Is it possible for someone to be one of Christ’s disciples, a follower of Jesus, to observe Him walk on the water, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, give hearing to the deaf, heal the crippled, cleanse lepers, calm the wind and the waves, retrieve a gold coin from a fish’s mouth to pay taxes, feed thousands with a few loaves and fishes, cast out demons, and even yourself cast out demons and work other miracles in His name, yet not be a believer? Certainly, for that was the case with Judas Iscariot. Astonishingly, Judas Iscariot was not the only disciple of Jesus Christ who was an unbeliever. Judas Iscariot was just the only disciple of Jesus Christ who fulfilled prophecy by betraying Him for thirty pieces of silver.
This morning I would like to take you to the Sunday following Easter Sunday, the week after the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, to rehearse to you the details of the conversion to Jesus Christ of another of the twelve Apostles, Thomas. Of course, Thomas is commonly referred to as doubting Thomas because of his refusal to believe the testimonies of the remaining apostles. When the other ten attempted to persuade him they had seen the risen Savior, he said, “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.”
Was Thomas an unbeliever? Not according to the late John R. Rice, who wrote in his commentary on the gospel of John, dealing with verses 24-29, “Thomas could not believe that Jesus was really risen from the dead. He wanted more evidence. . . We should remember that being saved does not make one perfect in understanding or perfect in faith. And saved people sometimes have very little confidence about spiritual truth and blessing.” Thus, it is clear that John R. Rice (and the vast majority of other commentators I might add) was persuaded that the Apostle Thomas was a saved man. Even Charles H. Spurgeon, famous 19th century Baptist pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, was of the opinion Thomas was a believer. In one sermon on John 20.27-28 delivered near the end of his life, he asked, “And did not Thomas, by such an exclamation as this, renew his personal betrothal to Christ and his positive consecration to His service?” Mr. Spurgeon was convinced Thomas was at this point a believer.
However, I am not persuaded Thomas is properly labeled a Christian at this point in his life, for two reasons: First, he denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is a denial of the gospel. No one can be a Christian who denies the essential features of the gospel, yet Thomas doubted the good news that Jesus rose from the dead. Second, in a moment we will see that the Savior Himself describes Thomas as faithless, without faith. How can you be a believer without belief? How can you have faith without faith? Nope. I am convinced that despite his years of service and constancy, despite his discharge of apostolic duties over the course of Christ’s earthly ministry, come dawn on the Sunday a week after the resurrection of Jesus Christ this man Thomas is not born again.
Turn to John 20.26-29, where we see the circumstances related to Thomas’ conversion to Jesus Christ. When you find that passage, please stand and read along with me while I read aloud:
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.
Notice four things in our text:
First, NOTICE THAT CHRIST COMES
Let us set aside any consideration of the other disciples so that we might focus our attention on Thomas. Verse 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.”
The Lord Jesus Christ has suffered, bled, and died on the cross. Thomas certainly witnessed that. However, the week before, the day Christ rose up from the dead, Thomas was not witness to the event and did not then enjoy a personal encounter with the risen Jesus Christ. They had all assembled the previous Sunday, probably in the same room where they had observed the Passover meal the night He was arrested, when Jesus appeared to the gathered apostles. Only Thomas missed that meeting. The result was what he did not see with his own eyes he refused to believe.
After all, that he had witnessed over the previous three years of teaching and miracle working, Thomas thereby exposed himself as just as much a skeptic as Jesus’ brother James was, and just as certainly an unbeliever as any other lost man. After all, if you deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ you deny the gospel. Yet when they gathered again the following Sunday, Thomas was there with the others. The doors were shut for fear, as they had been the week before. Then Jesus came. There is no mention of Him knocking on a door, or opening a door. The doors are shut, yet He came and there stands in the midst of them. This, my friends, is yet another miracle. He is suddenly standing there.
Notice what He said. It is important. “Peace be unto you.” His whole reason for leaving heaven’s glory and coming to this wicked world was to reconcile sinners to God, to make peace. Thus, He speaks peace with God to those in the room, and also the peace of God. The night before He was crucified He said to these same men, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Peace is precisely what you need, my friend. There is a conflict between you and God that only the Prince of peace can remedy. There is a cause of conflict by you with God that only the blood of Christ can resolve. “Oh, but I am already a Christian.” That is what is commonly thought of Thomas, as well. However, the reality was that Thomas was not a Christian either. My Lord could have entered the room with a flourish and a drum roll, with an entourage of impressive angels, and with an awesome display of majesty. However, He did not. Though miraculous, His entrance was simple. His mission was peace.
Next, NOTICE THAT CHRIST CONFRONTS
Though He greeted everyone, Jesus confronted only Thomas. The remaining living apostle of Jesus Christ who is not a believer, and who has displayed his resistance to the prophecies of the Bible, the promises of the Savior, and the eye witness testimonies of his friends and colleagues, might reasonably have expected his Master to approach him very differently than He did. Verse 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.” How would you describe Christ’s manner to Thomas? To be sure, He confronts the skeptical apostle, but He does so without being condemning.
Consider that Thomas had been so bold as to lay down his demands for faith in Christ, rather than humbly bowing to the Lord’s requirements. He told his friends what he required of Christ, rather than seeking from Christ what was required of him. Such conduct by Thomas was outrageous, but the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Thomas and offered to him what he had previously insisted on having, wounds to see and to feel. What does this reveal about the Savior to you? Does it not show that He does not demand that you meet Him half way? Does it not show that having come so far from heaven’s glory, He is willing to provide you what you need to trust Him? To be sure, He still demands faith. However, He encourages Thomas to believe and not be faithless.
My friend, be careful not to project onto Jesus Christ the opinions you have formed from your dealings with others. Do not think the Savior is like anyone you have ever encountered before, be it your father, your brother, your ex-husband, or any unreliable, unloving, unfaithful, uncooperative, insensitive clod you have ever known. Did you have a wicked father who was an absentee, or (and this may be worse) brutally present? Did you have an inhumane brother, a selfish lover, or an all too human and inconsistent pastor? My question to you is, so what? Is not the essence of the gospel message that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God? Did not the Apostle Paul clearly state that we have this gospel treasure in earthen vessels, with our cracks and chips and flaws, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us?
Thus, Thomas was not confronted with a consideration of Simon Peter or the Apostle John. Neither are you confronted with a consideration of me, or of anyone else you have ever met. The One who confronts you in the gospel is Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, crucified for your sins and raised from the dead, who is now seated on a throne in glory.
Third, NOTICE THAT THOMAS CONVERTS
When confronted with the tender firmness of our amazing Savior, Thomas responds, and his reaction is recorded in verse 28: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses cult rejects the clear teaching of the Bible with respect to many things, but none is more evil than their insistence that Jesus is a created being, that He is not the eternal Son of the living God, that He is not the second Person of the Trinity, that His sacrifice was sufficient, and that He saves sinners graciously through faith apart from meritorious works of any kind. Their explanation for Thomas’ words are that he was so overcome with amazement when he saw Jesus that he resorted to an outburst of profanity, “My Lord and my God!”
Those Christ-denying cultists are completely wrong. Thomas’ was not an outburst, but an address. He had seen proof of Jesus Christ’s humanity when He died on the cross. He was now witness to the Deity of Jesus Christ in beholding His wounds. Zechariah 12.10 records the words of Jehovah: “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” Thomas gave voice to his realization that the One upon whom he was looking, with wounds in His hands and side, was his Lord and his God.
Conversion is the consequence of repentance and faith, the turning from sin being repentance and the turning to Christ being saving faith. Christ urged Thomas to believe in Him, and we see the result of Thomas believing in Him. If you turn from your sins and come to Christ, you will own Jesus as your Lord and as your God just as Thomas did.
Finally, NOTICE THAT CHRIST COMMENDS
Verse 28: “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Jesus acknowledges Thomas’ faith at this point. Thomas is now a believer. However, notice what is missing. There is no castigating by the Savior. He does not say to Thomas, “It is good you believe now, but you should have believed before.” Why does He not say something like that? Because forgiveness is forgiveness, not an opportunity to get in one last dig. This is why Jesus did not give the forgiving father in his parable about a prodigal son a wagging finger toward his wayward son when he returned home and sought his father’s forgiveness.
Rather than getting in one last dig, the Lord Jesus Christ instructs Thomas and encourages future believers. Thomas believed because He saw Christ. He beheld His wounds. He saw that He was risen from the dead. That is the fact of the matter regarding Thomas’ conversion. However, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” This, too, is a simple statement of fact. If you have not seen the risen Savior, yet have accepted the testimony of God’s Word and those who were alive to see the risen Savior, you are blessed who believe.
What Jesus did to accomplish the salvation of undeserving sinners was done in history. He was born at a certain time, lived for a certain duration, died an atoning death at a certain time, rose from the dead at a certain time, and has been in heaven since then. He will not show Himself again to men until the door of salvation is closed and He rises from His throne to come to this earth again. From His ascension to His second coming, Jesus saves by grace through faith, with faith being the evidence of things not seen. Thus, because He will not show Himself to you as He did Thomas; He has left sufficient witness for any sinner to have faith in Christ, and to by faith embrace Him as Savior.
What about you? Have you not seen enough in God’s Word to know certain things to be true? Allow me to rehearse a couple of things:
First, Jesus is risen from the dead. Seen by hundreds after He rose from the dead, His resurrection was disputed by no one more vigorously than Thomas, until Jesus appeared to him. Thereafter, it was centuries before Christ’s resurrection was challenged.
Second, Jesus Christ’s death showed Him to be a man, with His resurrection showing Him to be God. Prophecy, and Thomas, and the rest of the Bible are agreed on this point.
Third, what a Savior we see in our text. He is unlike anyone else. He is unique. Tender instead of harsh, firm while at the same time gentle, He goes so much farther than halfway to save sinners.
Finally, Thomas was an apostle who was not saved, yet he responded when Christ confronted him and was converted. Perhaps there are some who think you are a Christian. However, God knows and your life shows you are not a Christian.
Let me urge you to come to Christ today.
 Matthew 27.9; Zechariah 11.12-13
 John 20.25
 John R. Rice, The Son of God: a Verse by Verse Commentary on the Gospel According to John, (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1976), pages 399-400.
 Charles H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 62, (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1980 reprint), page 585.
 2 Corinthians 4.7