7 April 2013

John 20:19-31

“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’” (vv. 28-29)


It's the Sunday evening following Friday's crucifixion of Jesus. Mary Magdalene has told the disciples that she has seen Jesus, risen from the dead. She's brought a message from him to them about his going to heaven. A couple of them have been to the tomb and seen that it was empty (John 20:1-18). And now the disciples are hidden away in a locked room 'for fear of the Jews'.

It's not surprising that they were locked and hidden away. The fickle crowd of 'Jews' that had welcomed Jesus only a week earlier (John 12:12-19) had, by the end of the week, called for his death. Judas had not been seen since Friday morning (Matthew 27:1-5). Would they be next? And what were they to make of Mary's story of meeting angels and a gardener who knew her name?

John's Gospel doesn't explain how Jesus came to walk through a locked door (though see 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 for Paul's explanation). The miracle of Jesus passing through a locked door to bring peace and joy, and forgiveness through the Holy Spirit, can only be understood by those who see Jesus passing through the locked door of death itself to also bring peace and joy, and forgiveness through the Holy Spirit. The 'breath' of Jesus brings the 'Spirit' of God (it's the same word in Greek).

Note that 'doubting Thomas' should be called 'believing Thomas' - he's the first person to call Jesus "my Lord and my God". Note also that this passage is probably the original ending (and what a great ending it is!) to John's Gospel, before the epilogue which is chapter 21.

To Ponder

  • Most of us have things in our life that we'd rather not face, and want to lock ourselves safely away from. How may the gift of the Holy Spirit help you to leave your locked room?
  • Think about the reasons people give for not believing in God, and the proofs they ask for. Does faith, by its very nature, not require proof? Why?
  • John ends his book (verse 31) by telling you why he has written it. All that work was for you, dear reader - how far was it worth his effort or is the book an unused Christmas gift?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Cockling

Neil spent 20 years as a circuit minister before becoming the District Development Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District. He now works full-time for the NHS as a Consultant Lead Chaplain in mental health, leading a multi-faith team of 14 chaplains working in 10 hospitals in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.