After Jesus rose from the dead the Bible says in John 20:24-25, "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
He said that he could not believe without physical proof. Not only did Thomas claim that he needed to see before he would believe, he also claimed that he needed to touch before he would believe. Thomas is a good example of how many people are, and how many people have become especially in the last 200 years since modern science has had such a profound effect on the way that people look at things. There is nothing wrong with science or the scientific method especially in regards to investigating material things, but there are many things about God that cannot be discovered through science. "God is a spirit, and they that worship God must worship Him through spirit and truth."
Even though that is the case, true science will never contradict the truth about God. If someone uses science to deny God, then they have misused science. For example, the Bible tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Because the Bible is true, we know that this is a fact. Archeologists can excavate ancient dwellings in Bethlehem and tell us details about the way that buildings were constructed in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, and other details. And in that way science and the Bible converge; and the one adds to the other. For the most part truth is verifiable and observable. The truths of the Bible are no different.
But when it comes right down to it, those who believe in God are believing things that they do not see; even though there is a lot of evidence to corroborate what they believe. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead. There is evidence to support that belief. There is the empty tomb. There is the written testimony of the apostles and the testimony of hundreds of other witnesses in the first century who saw Jesus after He arose; and there is our own personal experience when each of us bowed before the Christ and knew that He was near to us and that He was the living Christ to whom we were praying for forgiveness of sins. We prayed to and experienced a living Christ, not a dead one. But in spite of all the evidence to this belief and other beliefs, it does really come down to the fact that we believe in a God who is invisible. We have never seen Jesus with our eyes or touched Him, the way that Thomas did. We believe in an invisible God and in a supernatural God: One who is above and beyond the natural world, and One who is therefore not knowable or discoverable through the scientific method. Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." Itís a spiritual experience to perceive and to understand and to believe. It cannot be perceived or understood or experienced through material or physical means.
The Bible says in John 20:26-29, "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. The said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
There are very few things that are more important than belief. Jesus said to Thomas, "Be not faithless, but believing." To believe or not to believe: it will be the difference between heaven and hell, and it will determine if your sins are forgiven or if you remain under the guilt of them. Faith is important because the just shall live by faith, and because by the shield of faith shall all the fiery darts of the wicked be quenched. If you have faith, nothing shall be impossible to you, because your faith will be in God and not in yourself and "with God all things are possible." Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. He that has faith possesses all things because such a person has the means to obtain them no matter how far away they seem to be. Faith says, ĎI can do it, because God is, and because God can do all things, and because God loves me.í Faith never gives up. Faith keeps on hoping when everyone else thinks that all hope is gone. Faith is positive even when there is nothing to be positive about. Faith believes that which it cannot see. Faith sees that there is a purpose to all things, even the worst of things. Faith allows one to be happy even when there is nothing on earth to be happy about, because faith looks forward to things beyond this life. Faith works in a real and practical and living way. Itís no wonder that Jesus said, "Be not faithless, but believing."
Thomas believed, and so he bowed before Jesus and said, "My Lord and my God." Once Thomas realized that it was true, that Jesus really did rise from the dead, then Thomas also realized the significance. It meant that Jesus was not just any other man. Jesus was God in the flesh, and therefore the grave could not hold Him. When Thomas called Jesus, "my God," Jesus did not reject or refuse the worship that Thomas directed towards Him. But Jesus did make it clear that others would be blessed indeed who came to believe what Thomas believed without seeing: such are you and I. God has given to humans the capacity to believe without seeing. The truth is revealed to us in a spiritual manner and so Heb. 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for: the evidence of things not seen."
Jesus wants us to be able to believe. He died for us so that we could enjoy the benefits of faith: not the least of which is the salvation of our souls. And God has inspired the writing of the scriptures so that we would know what to believe. How shall anyone believe except they hear? How shall anyone hear except someone tell the good news? And how shall anyone tell them the news, except they learn it from the written Word? The Apostle John said in John 20:30-31, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name."
Most of the Bible is written to people who are already believers: to strengthen them and to build up their faith. Thatís one of the reasons that unbelievers usually cannot read the Bible and get much out of it. But one part of the Bible that is an exception to this is the Gospel of John. Thomas believed because he saw Jesus risen from the dead, and many other people in the first century believed once they saw Jesus and heard Jesus speak the wonderful words that he said. Once an officer went to arrest Jesus but returned without doing so and said to his superiors, "Never man spake as this man."
But the people of our generation will not see Jesus or hear Him speak. How are they to believe? Thatís one of the reasons that God gave the written Word, so that all generations could know the truth. Without the written Word, we would only have hearsay; and we would not be sure what to believe and we would easily be tossed about with any wind of doctrine. But we donít have to be confused or unsure or doubtful because we have the written Word which is reliable and authoritative and absolutely true because the writing of it was inspired by the Almighty God. "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." "All scripture is given by inspiration of God."
And so the Apostle John wrote this gospel, evidently realizing that many of his readers would be unbelievers. If someone considers the truth without bias and without prejudging the matter, they will recognize the truth and will believe it. It is said that the man who wrote the book, ĎBen Hur: The Story of the Christ,í was initially an unbeliever and did his original research with the intent of disproving the story of the Christ. But the more facts that he investigated, the more that he realized that it was true and he wrote his book being full of faith and he gave it the subtitle, ĎThe Story of the Christ.í
Thatís why the Gospel of John is such a good book for unbelievers to read. It presents the truth about Jesus clearly and factually. If an unbeliever reads the Gospel of John with an open mind, itís very likely that at the end, he will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And the result of believing will be that such a person will have spiritual life where before there was none. Thatís what the good news is all about. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Someone who did not previously believe can begin a life of belief through faith in Jesus Christ. Someone who did not previously have faith can begin a life of faith through Jesus; and can change from a self-centered life to one that is centered upon the living God. Thatís the purpose of the gospel according to John: that people would read and then believe. If you know an unbeliever and would like to help them believe, then encourage them to read the Gospel of John. God inspired the writing of it for that very purpose.
In John 21:1-3 the Bible says, "After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed He Himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter said unto them, I go a fishing. They say to him, We also go with thee. They went forth and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing."
Peter decided to go fishing and some of the other disciples decided to follow him. The endeavors that you give yourself to are important not only because you will one day answer to God for your actions, but also because your actions have an influence on others. Some peopleís failures are even worse than the failure itself because the effect that they have on drawing others after them. Those in the entertainment industry should remember this principle. Many of them are building an eternity of torment for themselves. Woe to those who lead astray a little one who would have otherwise gone a better direction in life. Hell will be filled with those who have not only sinned themselves, but who have helped ruin others with their sins. People are like sheep, who too easily and too often will follow another, and you will be held responsible for those whom you have influenced and how you have influenced them.
The disciples went fishing, and Jesus used this event to teach them a lesson. Perhaps the Lord is trying to teach you something by the things that you are now experiencing. If you are blessed then you will understand what God is trying to teach you. It was very often the custom of Jesus to take the natural things of the world around Him to teach spiritual lessons. When Peter decided to go fishing, he said, "I will go a fishing." "I will.." And then they caught nothing. Be careful of your own will. Be wary of making your own decisions. Remember that Jesus conquered the wicked One by being able to say, "Not my will, but thine be done." Selfishness has destroyed many a life, and many tears have been shed and many regrets have been endured because of people who went their own way instead of Godís way. If only they had gone Godís way, and if only they had learned the lesson that Jesus taught to Peter and the other disciples on the banks of the Sea of Tiberias.
In John 21:4-6 the Bible says, "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." The important thing to note about the disciplesí change in fortune, in regards to the catching of fish, was that they let their nets down at the command of Jesus. When the disciples went fishing on their own terms, they were completely unproductive; but as soon as they did things at the leadership of Christ, everything changed. Those who want to serve God must wait until God leads them. Itís better to do nothing and to wait upon Godís leading than it is to go in the spirit of your own will. The will of man cannot perform the righteousness of God. The catching of fish with the nets is symbolic of bringing in souls to the Kingdom of God. The converting of souls is the work of God. He must do it, and we are given the privilege to participate with Him. "He that winneth souls is wise." Because God can do anything, there may be a multitude of souls awaiting your efforts. But you will only know, if you go Godís way for you.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved