Thomas Convinced - John 20:19-31

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 20:31

John 20:30-31 says: "Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, 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." These words bring before us again the primary purpose of the Book of John which is to convince men of the deity of Jesus. Without question these words are a summary of the whole argument of the book, but it is just as certain that they also refer in a particular way to the events which are recorded immediately before. The post-resurrection actions and words of Jesus in His contact with the disciples breathed the atmosphere of deity, and they breathed it so strongly that the disciples found great joy in believing in Him. Even doubting Thomas was convinced and his doubt vanished in a great flood of faith which swept over his soul.


John 20:19-24

The joy of the disciples was like the sunshine after a storm. Their hearts had been weighed down with sorrow, but now their Lord was risen from the dead and was proved to be the Son of God and the Saviour of men. This joy was intensified by the disciples' consciousness of His deity. He had not failed and He would not fail. Every contact which Jesus had with them deepened their confidence in Him and increased their understanding of His power and love, for in all He gave fresh evidence of His deity.

Jesus' power over closed doors showed His deity because it revealed that He had risen above mere natural laws. As the disciples were gathered in secret behind closed doors, suddenly Jesus stood in the midst with them. The door did not open, and no man saw Him enter, but His voice was heard and turning they saw that Jesus was with them. This power is not the power of men. It is the power of God. It speaks of Him who ordained the natural laws and Who alone has power to rise above them. Gen. 1:1; Jno. 1:1-3.

A wonderful spiritual application of this manifestation of power may be made. Jesus has power over the closed doors of our lives. We need not think we can shut Him out of the secret places. We may shut the doors against men and effectually keep them out, but we cannot keep out the Son of God. He can enter even through closed doors into the very secrets of men's hearts. I Sam. 16:7; Jno. 2:24-2 5; Heb. 4:13.

Still another way in which Jesus manifested His deity was by giving the disciples peace in the midst of tribulation. They were gathered in secret and had barred the doors because of fear of the Jews. They had markedly shown their enmity to the Lord Jesus and to His followers in crucifying Him, so the disciples might naturally fear that they were seeking them to do them harm. Now as Jesus stood in the midst with them He spoke words of power and comfort. "Peace be unto you." What a strange thing to say when every reason existed why they should not be in peace. But ah! the Son of God has power to give peace even when all about is troubled and disturbed, and when every circumstance is calculated to alarm. His words were no mere formal greeting or vain wish. They were words of power and blessing. Their effect is evident in the days which followed when, though the disciples were in prison and before magistrates — when they were being persecuted and even martyred for their faith — yet they were kept in peace. So too as we become conscious of Jesus' presence in our lives and as we learn to trust Him more confidently we may learn the same secret of peace. We may be kept in peace, even though severely assailed by the griefs, and sorrows, and fears, and petty annoyances of life. Phil. 4:6-7; Isa. 26:3.

The hands and feet of Jesus spoke eloquently of His deity as He showed them to His disciples. They told of the death which He had suffered and were a constant reminder of the wonder of His resurrection. Jesus had burst the bonds of death and had come forth from the grave victorious. What a marvelous manifestation of power! He had power over life and death, and though He did lay down His life for us, yet He had power to take it again. His pierced hands and the wound in His side testified that He had done this. Only God has power over life and death, so the wounds of Jesus testified with convincing power that He was the Son of God. The force of this testimony will be recognized in the day of His coming again. They who pierced Him will look upon Him, and seeing the wounds will realize that they have slain the Son of God. Israel, who has rejected Him will then recognize Him and see her mistake, and will bow before Him in humility, confessing Him as her Lord and her God. John 5:26; Rom. 1:4; Rev. 1:7, 18; Zech. 13:6; Acts 2:24; Isa. 53.

"Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." What a joy was theirs! And what joy is ours under the same circumstances! We do not see Him with the physical sight, but in faith we look upon His pierced hands and feet and upon His wounded side. In faith we say: "He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed." What a flood of joy flows over the soul which meditates upon the love which God has for us and of which those wounds are clear evidence. So, too, when we step aside from the hurry and rush of life — away from business cares and social activities — and consciously enter into the presence of our Lord we can hear Him saying: "Peace be unto you." Then our hearts are filled with an unspeakable joy. The Scriptures which we read, the Bible studies which we hear or which we read, the testimonies to which we listen, the answers to prayer which we receive— all the things which give us a closer acquaintance with our Lord bring joy to our souls. We, too, are glad when we see the Lord, for real joy is found only in close communion with Him. Acts 2:25-26; Psa. 16:11; I Pet. 1:8.

Then too Jesus' renewed commission to the disciples speaks of His deity. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Surely those words fell with especial force upon the ears of the disciples as they heard them in the light of events which had just preceded. They must have realized in a real way that they were called to suffer in His service. Perhaps, too, the glory of the resurrection of Jesus touched the prospect of suffering with radiant light, for it gave a foretaste of the reward which would be theirs for faithful service when they too should share His resurrection life. What a fellowship those words must have implied to their minds! Jesus had passed through the valley of the shadow of death, and had come forth in the resurrection. He had been separated from them once, but now in deathless life He could be with them forever. He had given them a commission before His death, but had been separated from them. Now, however, He renews the commission, and with it gives a new assurance and promise of fellowship. The authority which Jesus manifested shows us that He is God. Matt. 28:19-20; Col. 3:24.

And what power He gave them for the task which He had set before them! He breathed on them and said "receive ye the Holy Spirit." Yes He had promised the Holy Spirit, and now here was the fulfilment of His promise. They were to be indwelt by the personal representative of their Lord, Who was to lead them and to empower them as they sought to do His will. Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit also testifies to His deity, for the Holy Spirit is God and is subject only to the will of God. John 14:26; John 16:7-13. Still another thing may be noted which speaks of Jesus' deity, and that is His power to forgive sin. "Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained." This does not mean, as some have imagined, that men have power to forgive sins, but rather they are to follow the will and leading of God in this matter. Jesus was really saying to them, "Whose soever sins ye remit shall have been remitted, and whose soever sins ye retain shall have been retained." In other words they were to tell men their sins were forgiven or not forgiven only in accordance with what God had already decided in heaven. If a man believed in Jesus they had God's Word for it that that man's sins were forgiven, and they could say to him with assurance: "Your sins are forgiven." But if a man would not believe, the Word was just as clear, and they must say to him: "Your sins still remain." Only God has power to forgive sins, and consequently this bold statement of Jesus was proof of His deity. Psa. 103:3; Dan. 9:9; Mr. 2:7-12.


John 20:25-31

Thomas faced these facts and was changed from doubting Thomas to witnessing Thomas. He asked for only one sign, and that was that he might see and touch the wounds of Jesus and then he would believe. This was granted to him. He did see and that was enough. He did not need to touch the wounds, but only to hear the voice of Jesus and to see the wounds was enough for him. Seeing and hearing he cried out in a great burst of faith: "My Lord and my God." Thomas is an example of the power of the facts which we have faced. And he affords us a good lesson for our guidance in service. Let us simply hold up the Son of God before the eyes of men and point them to His wounds, telling them of His death and resurrection for them. Then they, too, will be constrained to cry with Thomas, "My Lord and my God." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation, therefore let us preach it faithfully. Rom. 1:16-17; I Cor. 1:17.