Describe a time when you were challenged to move on faith and not on sight. What did you learn?

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1 Week 32, John 20:24 31 Hook Icebreaker: Break your class into small groups, between four and six people. Ask the following questions: What is the definition of faith? How does someone s faith grow? Describe a time when you were challenged to move on faith and not on sight. What did you learn? What are some characteristics that come to mind when thinking of the disciple Thomas? Did Thomas have less faith than the other disciples?

2 John 20: Book Text Summary: The disciples gather together once again; this time Thomas is present. They tell Thomas about previously seeing Jesus, but Thomas is in disbelief. Jesus appears and confronts Thomas unbelief by showing Thomas His wounds. John records lastly that all the things written about Jesus in his gospel were to show that Jesus was the Christ and there is life in His name. John 20:24 26 (Read) Sub Application: Believe without seeing. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared. He shares that he will not believe unless he sees Jesus for himself. Verse 24 opens with the unfortunate news that Thomas, one of the 12 disciples, was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them previously. Thomas must have had some amount of disappointment. After seeing Jesus perform many signs and wonders, he now missed the most miraculous: Jesus appearing in the flesh after His death. The disciples recall the event to Thomas and all that he missed. They tell him about Jesus wounds and His commissioning them with the task of going into the world. They tell Thomas about Jesus breathing on them the Spirit. But Thomas isn t phased. He doesn t believe a word they say. In fact, he says he won t believe until he sees Jesus himself. Thomas doubts, just as everyone has throughout the history of the faith. He hesitates to believe what his friends say because of how unbelievable it sounds. Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to the disciples in a locked room? But Thomas remains unconvinced, and demands not only a palpable sign, but the most personal and concrete evidence that the person whom he knew had been killed in a specific fashion had indeed been raised from the dead. The risen Jesus must have some sort of physical continuity with the Jesus who was crucified. 1 Verse 26 informs the reader that a week goes by with nothing resolved. The disciples are gathering together inside and once again, the doors are locked. The scene is quite similar to the 1 D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1990, p. 656.

3 previous one beginning in verse 19. But Jesus, not hindered by the locked doors, appears before His disciples. What hindered Thomas belief? Why couldn t he believe what the disciples said? What does the detail of the locked doors tell us about the disciples fear? Why might they still be afraid? What is the significance of the time period? Why do you think Jesus waited eight days to appear before the disciples? Why would the other disciple believe in Jesus Resurrection (verse 8) and yet Thomas does not believe? John 20:27 31 (Read) Sub Application: Make your faith public. Jesus reveals himself to Thomas and the other disciples. Thomas sees and believes. Jesus first words after His greeting are directed at Thomas. These verses don t say whether or not Thomas actually touched Jesus side or hands, but [the] impression given is that the sight itself proved sufficient, that Thomas was so overcome with awe and reverence that he immediately uttered his confession. 2 Jesus words to Thomas closely mirror Thomas s earlier statement. As he had done previously, by showing awareness of the disciple s objection, Jesus displays supernatural knowledge. 3 Jesus wasn t there when Thomas refused to believe the disciples. But Jesus steps in and confronts the specific unbelief with the specific demands. As a result, Thomas can t not believe in the resurrected Christ. Jesus didn t have to do this for Thomas, but He did anyway. This is the same with all Christians, and Jesus speaks to this. He knows that Christians, those who will believe after Jesus ascension, will not believe based on sight. And for that, He calls those who believe on faith alone blessed. Carson explains, Jesus here foresees a time when he will not provide the kind of tangible evidence afforded the beloved disciple and Thomas; in short, he will ascend to his Father permanently, and all those who believe will do so without the 2 D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1990, p Andreas Kostenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary On the New Testament: John. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2004, p

4 benefit of having seen their resurrected Lord. That is as true today as it was for this who first believed after the ascension. 4 John closes this section with a purpose statement for the book. The statement is built on Jesus previous statement, which implies that not all of His followers will get the benefit of seeing Him. John writes that he has recorded this whole gospel account for those who haven t seen Christ, in order that they may believe. This gospel then, in its entirety, was written for those who haven t seen Christ. And if John s purpose is completed in the reading of this account, those who read will now be able to make the same confession that Thomas just made. Why did Jesus tell Thomas to touch His hands and His side? What does Jesus say about those who will believe without having seen Him? Why did John record the specific events concerning Jesus in his gospel account? What were the events intended to do? How should a believer interact with a nonbeliever who has doubts? What should a believer do who is experiencing doubts in her faith? Another Perspective: The ESV Study Bible 20:28 Thomas s confession of Jesus as his Lord (Gk. Kyrios) and God (Gk. Theos) provides a literary link with the references to Jesus as God in the prologue (1:1, 18). This is one of the strongest texts in the NT on the deity of Christ (see 1:1). Some cults try to explain away this clear affirmation of Jesus deity by arguing that Thomas s statement was merely an exclamation of astonishment that, in effect, took God s name in vain. Such an explanation is unthinkable, however, given the strong Jewish moral convictions of the day and because it is not consistent with the text, which explicitly says that Thomas said these words to Him, that is, to Jesus. Thomas s statement is in fact a clear confession of his newly found faith in Jesus as his Lord and God. John s entire purpose in writing this book is that all readers would come to confess Jesus as their Lord and God in the same way that Thomas did. 5 Discussion: How would you describe the faith journey of Thomas? What were the implications of the statement My Lord and my God? 4 D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to John. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1990, p Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2071.

5 Week 32, John 20: Took Discussion: What is the purpose of the book of John? Is this the purpose of all Scripture? If John is concerned with bringing people to faith in Christ, what about the Old Testament? What is its purpose? How does Jesus reveal Himself to non-believers? Lesson Conclusion: Thomas will not believe without seeing the risen Lord. Jesus appears to Thomas who then proclaims Him to be his Lord and God. Jesus proclaims a blessing on those who will believe without seeing, and John shares that the book was written that people would believe in Christ. Challenge: Today, people are called to believe without seeing. God has given us His Word that we might read it and believe in the risen Savior, Jesus. Some in your class may be struggling with faith; either to make a commitment to the Lord for the first time or current believers who are fighting doubts in some area. Many will claim that they will believe in Jesus if He gives them a sign (much like Thomas). Remind your class that God has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus, in His Word. Challenge those in your class to dig deep into the Scriptures, to seek after the Lord with everything within them. Some have made a decision for Christ, perhaps years ago, but have been timid about their faith. Like Thomas, it is time to declare Jesus for who He is, Lord in life and God Himself.

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