That You May Believe

August 19, 2019

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31

John wrote his gospel to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah so that they would believe in Him and thus have life. Many of us believe the gospel message, but at times we doubt God’s Word to us regarding other matters. As we will see, Jesus honors our belief.

Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where the Lord had been laid. On her arrival she found that the large stone that had sealed the tomb had been rolled away. She ran to Peter and “the other disciple” (John 20:2), most certainly John, and told them that someone had taken Jesus’ body.

The Empty Tomb

Peter and John ran to the tomb. Peter, the original language tells us, simply “saw” that it was empty, but John “saw and perceived.” The light went on. John suddenly realized that, just as He had said He would, Jesus had risen from the dead.

The disciples, once they grasped that Jesus was resurrected, most likely expected that, finally, He would go to Jerusalem, pronounce Himself Messiah, and set up His kingdom. But God had a different plan.

That evening the disciples were gathered behind locked doors, legitimately afraid that they might be rounded up and executed as Jesus had been. At this point only Mary and two other disciples had seen the resurrected Jesus (see Luke 24:35). Suddenly Jesus appeared in their midst and said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

This gathering was made up not only of the apostles but of all those who had been with Jesus, including a number of women. In a sense, this was the first gathering of the church. What Jesus told them was not for a select few but for the body of Christ: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). The Father had sent Jesus into the world to redeem mankind, and now Jesus was sending His church into the world to preach the gospel.

Brought Back to Life

After He commissioned them, Jesus “breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). Way back at the creation of the world, God had first breathed into man the breath of life (see Genesis 2:7), but when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, man died spiritually. As Jesus breathed on His followers, He recreated man. In that instant, they were indwelt by the Spirit—regenerated, brought back to life, born again.

Thomas, one of the eleven, was not present at this gathering. That was one meeting he should not have missed! The others told him that they had seen the Lord, but Thomas didn’t believe it. “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” (John 20:25).

Eight days later, the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. Suddenly Jesus appeared and spoke to Thomas: “Touch My hands, and put your finger in My side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).

My Lord and My God!” Thomas replied (John 20:28). Jesus had claimed in many ways to be God. Now He again showed His claim to deity by accepting Thomas’s declaration.

Because you have seen Me, you have believed,” Jesus told him. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This was a rebuke for Thomas, but it is a word of blessing to those throughout history who have not seen Jesus but have believed the testimony of God’s Word.

The Purpose of the Gospel

John’s purpose in writing his gospel was that we might believe: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). God reserves a special blessing for those who believe in Him without having seen Him. May we not be unbelieving, but believing.

Even as believers, we sometimes doubt God. We just can’t believe that He will do what He promised to do. Will you believe only what you can see, or will you believe the promises of God? As you believe the Lord, you will experience life in His name.