Seeing Christmas Through The Eyes Of The Open Tomb

Bible Book: John  20 : 19-31
Subject: Christmas; Resurrection; Jesus, Birth of; Life in Christ
Introduction

This is in the context of the first day of Christ’s resurrection. There are at least 5 resurrection appearances of our Lord in that 1st day of the week. Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, 2 Emmaus Road disciples, and the 10 disciples, minus Thomas. The next Sunday, the disciples met again and Thomas was with them. As a result of Thomas’ absence, he made some pretty outlandish challenges concerning Christ. Because of this, the other accounts, Thomas inherited the name, “Doubting Thomas.”

Question: Where was Thomas? Why was he not present? First of all “Thomas” (Aramaic) and “Didymus” (Greek) both mean twin. We don’t know who his twin was, but sometimes I feel as if I might be his twin. How often we have refused to believe and have insisted that God prove Himself to us?

Thomas was probably disappointed, defeated or discouraged and stayed away. Sound familiar? Solitude only fuels discouragement, disappointment and helps it grow into self-pity, which is even worst.

Thomas has proved to be a courageous man that was full of devotion to Christ; Note Lazarus’ death.

John 11:15-16

“’And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’" Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "’Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’"

John 14:5 reveals that Thomas was a spiritually minded man who wanted to know the truth and was not ashamed to ask a question. John 14:5 - “Thomas said to Him, "’Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’"

Good Word: Even though we call him “Doubting Thomas,” Jesus did not rebuke him for his doubts. He rebuked him for his unbelief.

John 20:27 - “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Doubt is often an intellectual problem: we want to believe, but the faith is overwhelmed by problems and questions.

Unbelief is a moral problem: we simply will not believe.

Doubt says, “I cannot believe. There are too many problems.”

Unbelief says, “I will not believe unless you give the evidence I asked for.”

Great Truth - How gracious our Lord is to stoop to our level of experience in order to lift us where we ought to be.

I. RESURRECTION FAITH ENCOURAGED WITHOUT THOMAS PRESENT 19-23

Jesus Cares:

A. As The Comforting One 19

“Peace be with you” - Jesus comes to us in our state of fear and brings calmness and

reassurance. The words were both calming and complementing. They complemented His words on the cross, “It is finished,” since it was His works on the cross that brought about peace between God and His people.

Romans 5:1 - “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

B. As The Crucified One 20

“He showed them His hands and His side” Jesus proved that He who appeared to them was the same One who was crucified.

C. As The Commissioning One 21

“As the Father has sent me; I also send you.” – we are to go to the world as He came to the world. Jesus charged us with the preaching of the gospel to the world. Our Savior came to “seek and to save that which was lost.”

D. As The Coming One 22

John 20:22 - “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "’Receive the Holy Spirit.’” This was prophetic truth of the caring of the Holy Spirit. They would be encouraged and enabled by the Holy Spirit.

E. As The Cleansing One 23

John 20:23 - “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Jesus was saying that the believer can boldly declare the certainty of a sinner’s forgiveness by the Father because of the work of His Son, if that sinner has repented and believed the Gospel. The believer, with certainty, can also tell those who do not respond to the messages of God’s forgiveness through faith is Christ that their sins, as a result, are not forgiven. In other words, the disciples did not provide forgiveness, they proclaimed forgiveness.

Romans 10:9, 10, 13 - “that 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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For "’whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’" If sinners will believe in Jesus Christ, we can authoritatively declare to them that their sins have been forgiven, but we are not the ones who provide the forgiveness.

II. RESURRECTION FAITH EXPRESSED IN THOMAS’ PUBLIC CONFRONTATION 26-29

A. The Confrontation 26-27

Jesus saw a dangerous process at work in Thomas’ heart and He wanted to put a stop to it.

Hebrews 3:12 - “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”

B. The Confession 28

He confessed Lordship and Deity; acknowledging Jesus as Messiah and son of God. This is the greatest confession one can make.

C. Those Coming To Christ In The Future 29

Jesus foresaw a time when such tangible evidence as Thomas received would not be available. All those who believe would do so without the benefit of seeing the resurrected Lord. Jesus pronounced a special blessing (beatitude).

1 Peter 1:8-9 - “’whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.’”

III. RESURRECTION FAITH EXPLAINED FOR PERSONAL FAITH 30-31

A. Purpose 30-31

“That you may believe” – signs of Jesus are to elicit belief in His person; to trust, involves a personal response and faith commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior. His works were to lead us to believe His Word.

Romans 10:17 - “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

B. Provision 31

“that believing you may love life in His name” - this is the goal of John’s writings. This is the heart of the gospel and its mission.