Tag Archives: John 20

To Believe, or Not to Believe

Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
John 20:29 (NRSV)

It is the most startling claim of all of the startling claims that were made about Jesus. The One who cured lepers, cast out demons, made the lame walk and the blind to see. The One who raised a little girl from her deathbed and called Lazarus out of his tomb. This Jesus, whose beaten, tortured, and crucified body had lain dead and lifeless in the grave since Friday afternoon, is resurrected on Sunday morning and appears numerous times to different followers, including a sudden appearance behind locked doors to show his wounds as proof to a doubting Thomas.

There are many over the centuries who appreciate Jesus’ teachings and example, but fall short of believing the miraculous claims about Him. Yet it was the surety of the resurrected Jesus that led His followers to burst out from their hiding behind locked doors to boldly proclaim the most audacious claim of all. Each one of Jesus’ inner circle who saw Jesus present Himself to a doubting Thomas behind those locked doors would later prove willing to travel to the ends of the known world, to suffer terribly at the hands of unbelievers, and to die horrific deaths in proclaiming that which they had heard with their own ears, seen with their own eyes, and touched with their own hands.

It is one thing to nod acknowledgement and appreciation toward Jesus’ Pinterest worthy sayings. It is another thing to truly believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be and who His closest followers proclaimed Him to be though it cost them their own lives. If you believe the audacious claim, then it requires something of you. It requires everything of you.

For the record, I believe.

Chapter-a-Day John 20

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. John 20:19 (NLT)

The religious leaders of Jerusalem had conspired and in less than 24 hours they had apprehended, tried and executed Jesus. If they were so intent on killing their master, it would make sense for them to go after Jesus’ core disciples as well. They could make a clean sweep and be rid of this pesky sect that had caused so many headaches for them.

It is not surprising that Jesus’ followers were shut up behind locked doors fearing for their lives. They had nothing with which to defend themselves. They were uneducated men from the rural Galilee region in the north. They had no money, no political power, and they were in grief over the death of their master. They had alway depended on Jesus to lead them and tell them where they were going and what they should do. Now, they were distraught, afraid, leaderless and utterly without direction or hope.

So, what happened over the course of the following six weeks that changed this fearful, directionless, uneducated lot into a fearless, impassioned, articulate group of men boldly standing up in public to proclaim that Jesus was alive? In fact, all twelve would eventually spread out around the known world to experience persecution, torture and death in order to share with others the story of Jesus, His death and His resurrection.

Today I’m thinking about the fact that following Jesus and experiencing a relationship with Him results in changed lives. Death becomes life. Hate becomes love. Bitterness becomes forgiveness. Selfishness becomes selflessness. Prejudice becomes grace. I see that change in the story and testimony of Jesus’ first followers. I’ve seen it in countless others. I’ve experienced it in my own life, and I pray to experience increasingly more each day.