These Things Are Written
John 20:24-31 (ESV)
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Warning signs. We see them just about everywhere. When we go to a pool there are signs warning us about what activity we should or should not do around the pool. When we drive there are signs warning us about hazardous conditions or safe speed limits. There are environmental signs that inform us of something that is perhaps unsafe and some action we ought to take. For instance, Gena and I went to Myrtle Beach on vacation this past June and we saw one such sign. While walking on the beach, we came up on an advisory sign near a stream that was flowing out into the ocean. I can’t remember exactly what the sign said, but it basically said that swimming in or near the stream after a heavy rain should be avoided. What I didn’t know at the time was that water in streams such as this can be unsafe, particular after a heavy rain. Myrtle Beach has a voluntary beach water monitoring program, and during the summer months, the surf is regularly tested. If unacceptable levels of bacteria are detected, the area affected is posted with an advisory. The possibility of pollutants in ocean water is greatest after a heavy rain, when runoff from lawns and streets can contain fertilizer, pesticides, and trash. Swimming in such contaminated water may cause minor illnesses and should be avoided.
Of course, some will choose to ignore the warning and swim in contaminated water anyway, and as a result, possibly get sick. But the advisory is there. The purpose of the advisory sign Gena and I saw, and other similar signs, was to inform people of a hazard and consequently result in people remaining safe.
Our passage this morning says something similar. I mean, it doesn’t warn us about unsafe water, but it does say to us the purpose of certain things that are written in the Bible, particularly in the book of John. John tells us why he wrote this book, particularly why he wrote about Jesus’ resurrection.
But, before we get too much farther into this, let’s first look at what’s going on during this event that John has recorded for us. (God spoke it and John wrote it)
Jesus’ resurrection had just occurred. Some of his followers (Peter, John, and Mary) had gone to Jesus’ tomb and had seen that he was no longer there. Later, the disciples were locked in a room, all except for Thomas. Thomas was not with them. The disciples were locked in that room for fear of the Jews who might have sought to kill them as well. Then, while they were locked in the room, Jesus appeared to them. At first, they thought they were seeing a ghost, but Jesus then showed them the scars on his hands and on his side, to show them that he was not a ghost but had truly been raised from the dead. John tells us that the disciples were then glad when they saw the Lord. The disciples told Thomas about the Lord appearing to them, because remember, he was not with the disciples at that time. Scripture does not tell us where he was or why he was not with the other disciples. However, Thomas did not believe them. Thus, Thomas says, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Some translations may say, “I will not believe”, but the negative here is emphatic. Thomas is saying that unless he gets this proof, he will never believe what the other disciples are telling him.
Thomas required proof. He was not going to believe what the other disciples were saying, because let’s face it; their message about Jesus’ resurrection was incredible. If we were Thomas, would we have responded any differently? Perhaps not!
But Thomas was a little different, right? Thomas walked with Jesus. He followed Him. He heard and saw many of the things which Jesus said and did. Shouldn’t Thomas have believed that Jesus would rise from the grave, just as the disciples were telling him? Well, it is easy perhaps, for us to say these things.
Before we are too hard on Thomas for his lack of faith, we ought to remember this is the same Thomas that when the disciples told Jesus to not go to Lazarus because there were Jews there seeking to kill him, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” So, while Thomas for some reason did not believe Jesus had been resurrected, he was willing at one point to die with him.
When Jesus comes the second time, Thomas of course is there, and Jesus meets Thomas’ skepticism with an immediate and direct response. Jesus said, “Put your finger here and see my hands, reach out your hand and put it in my side.” Then Jesus tells him, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
So, this brings us to the main point of today’s message. I said all of this to tell you three things:
- The Medium by which God reveals the Gospel is His written Word
- The Purpose of God’s written Word is for us to believe that Jesus is the Savior and the Son of God
3. The Result of Belief is True Life
Point 1 – The Medium - The Written Word
First, there is the written Word of God. We call this Scripture, or sacred writings, or the Bible. Thomas and the other disciples who walked with Jesus had the unique and awesome opportunity to walk and talk with the living God, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We don’t have the same opportunity to see and speak to Jesus as the disciples did. But we do have something that is intended to produce the same result as being in that locked room with the resurrected Jesus. God inspired John, and the other writers of the Bible, to records certain events, and according to John, these things were written that you might believe. John is saying to his readers, that the reason he wrote his account of the life of Jesus, was that people might believe.
Scripture is not just a bunch of rules, of “Thou Shalls” and “Thou Shall Nots.” While obeying God’s Word is important and profitable to us, it is for our own good, Scripture has the purpose of drawing unbelievers into fellowship with God. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit, Scripture turns unbelief into belief.
Think about it. Why is the Bible so important? Or should I ask, is it important? What makes Scripture important to you? I hope you can say that is draws you closer to the living God. What we read about Scripture is that it has the words of life. When some Jews were seeking to kill Jesus because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God, Jesus told them this:
John 5:39-40 (ESV) 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Scripture is important. It is in the Bible that we read about God’s plan of salvation, where we read about our Lord and Savior Jesus, and it is in Scripture where we read the words of life. The Bible is extremely important, not just for unbelievers, but also for believers.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV) 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God [inspired] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Scripture is important for believers and unbelievers. Scripture is how God communicates to us. Now, let’s talk about belief.
Point 2 – The Purpose – Belief in Jesus as Christ and Son of God
God inspired men to write Scripture to reveal those things He wanted us to know about Him. But, according to John, the passage we just read, what is the purpose of Scripture?
John stated that he wrote his account of the Gospel so that we would believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Not many people who know about Jesus claim that he was fictional. Most people agree that he lived and breathed and was indeed a historical figure. What many disagree about is just who Jesus was. Some believe Jesus was a good man. Some believe he was a prophet. But what are we told to believe? When Jesus asked his disciples what other people were saying about him, and then asked them,
Matthew 16:15-16 (ESV) 15 …“But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
We are told to believe that Jesus is the Christ AND the Son of God. These two things concerning Jesus were important to John, as they were to the other writers of the NT, and John wanted to convey this to his readers.
The first label concerning Jesus is Christ, which is the Greek word for Messiah. This literally means one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. As a title for Jesus, however, this designates him as the Messiah prophesied in the OT who was sent from God. If you recall, the Messiah was the expected king and deliverer of the Jews. Jesus showed, however, that a military leader was not what God had in mind, but rather a spiritual redeemer who would save mankind from his sinfulness and restore a broken relationship with God.
The second label that John wants people to believe about Jesus, is that He is the Son of God. This statement points to Jesus’ divinity. What was Thomas’ response to finally seeing the resurrected Jesus? He said, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas believed, and acknowledged Jesus for who He is – Lord and God. Thomas’ response echoes what John had already stated about Jesus in John chapter 1.
John 1:1-3 (ESV) 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John identified Jesus as the Word that was God and through whom all things were created.
Now Thomas affirms this in one simple response: My Lord and My God.
Therefore, John’s purpose, or more correctly, God’s purpose in this Scripture, is for people to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of mankind and the Son of God.
The last thing I would like to mention about John’s statement of purpose here is that it certainly seems evangelistic. John appears to be trying to help those who do not already believe in a Jesus as Lord and Savior. Recall John 3:16, a very evangelistic passage:
John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Point 3 – The Result of Belief – True Life
So, God reveals himself through Scripture, and the purpose of Scripture is that we would believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior. What does John say the result of this belief is?
John 20:24-31 (ESV) …these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
So, the result of believing Jesus as Lord and Savior is that we may have life. This may seem rather pointless to say since we are all alive. But the life John is referring to is true, spiritual life. Earlier, John writes about this life.
John 1:1-4 (ESV) 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men.
In Jesus was life. So before there was anything made, you, me, this church, the whole world, there was life. This means that before all creation there was life. Life isn’t a result of chance or random conversions of non-organic material. Life was already there and has always been there. And specifically, life was and still is in Jesus.
So what does that say about us? Before a person believes Jesus is his/her Lord and Savior, he/she is spiritually dead in his/her sins. Once a person accepts and puts their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, they experience true life. Another way to say this is, to experience true life, one must experience the true God. Jesus stated it this way:
John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that [the sheep] may have life and have it abundantly.
John 17:3 (ESV) 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Finally, Jesus made it clear that life is through Him and only through Him.
John 14:6 (ESV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Therefore, God has revealed Himself through Scripture, the written Word, for the purpose of people believing that Jesus is the Savior of mankind and the Son of God, and that by believing in Him, they may have life, even eternal life.
Application - Response
So, how do we respond to this? I think there are a couple of ways we can respond to this message.
When we read the Bible, we could approach it as something academic, something that, yes, while these things happened, they have no real affect on my life. We could also read Scripture as someone who either does not believe that it is God’s revelation to us, or as someone who does not care what it has to say. Others believe Scripture is no longer relevant today and thus has nothing substantial to say to us.
I challenge you, however, to view Scripture as something that gives life. We do not have Jesus with us as He was with the disciples. But we do have God’s Word. God has left these written things so that we may believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and by believing we can have life. This is even true for the Christian who has already believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Scripture is a reminder and encouragement to believers of our need and desire for God. As the song the choir sang this morning said, Jesus is the real joy giver and the apple of the Christian’s eye, and Scripture reveals this to us.
In this book are the words of life and they continue to give life.
Jesus told Thomas, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” He still says that now, “Believe what I have written.” He is saying, “Look at how I have provided salvation. Listen to what I am telling you. Read my words. Don’t disbelieve, but believe in me that you may live.”
This is good news, thanks be to God. Amen!
 Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (410). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.