Do Not be Unbelieving But Believing

The tomb is empty. And as Mary and the other women are leaving, they see Jesus. He adds a specific command to “tell my brothers that they should go to Galilee”. But later in the day, there are two on the road to Emmaus, ten hiding for fear in Jerusalem, and Thomas is no where around. Jesus goes to them and calms them. They touch him and he eats with them. And a full eight days later they are still in the room in Jerusalem, but now Thomas is with them. Now, Thomas believes. Now, they will go to Galilee as Jesus asked them to.

Jesus Greets the Women

Matthew 28:9-10
John 20:14-18

Go Tell My Brothers

Matthew 28:9–10
As Mary and the other women left the empty tomb, Jesus appeared to them with instructions in Matthew 28:10 “Go tell my brothers that they should go to Galilee, and there they will see me” and this the women do. But later in the day, we find the apostles still in Jerusalem. How often do we delay, or not listen? 

I Am Ascending to My Father

John 20:14–18
John 20:14-18 also recounts Mary’s experience with Jesus just outside the empty tomb. Jesus has finished his sacrificial work, he gave his life, but he hasn’t finished the work in God’s spiritual realm, Jesus must ascend and take His rightful place. Here we learn that Mary did carry the message to the Apostles. But the very next verse in John 20:19 says “it was evening on that day … and the doors had been shut where the disciples were because of fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst”. They were afraid and hiding instead of starting the walk to Galilee.

Religious Leaders Bribe the Guards

Matthew 28:11–15

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Luke 24:13-43
John 20:19-23

Two of Them Were Traveling to Emmaus

Luke 24:13–24
Luke tells us about two disciples that were on their way to Emmaus, a few hours walk from Jerusalem. And as they were talking about what had happened, Jesus began walking with them, but they didn’t recognize him. And we learn that one of them was named Cleopas and later that they met the eleven apostles back in Jerusalem, so Jesus was rounding up his disciples, not just the eleven. And these two were with the eleven later when Jesus appeared to them in Jerusalem. 

Their Eyes Were Opened

Luke 24:25–34
Jesus had gone out of his way to find these two disciples and they still didn’t recognize him. They invite him for dinner, it is late in the day and he joins them. It isn’t until Luke 24:30-31 that “he took the bread and gave thanks, and after breaking it, he gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he became invisible to them”. As soon as they recognized him, he was gone. So, in Luke 24:33-35 “they got up that same hour and returned to Jerusalem”. It isn’t clear what time they arrived but it would have been a few hours walking so it might have been nine or ten in the evening when they were telling of their day with Jesus.

He Himself Stood There Among Them

Luke 24:36–43
This comment in Luke 24:36 helps us understand John 20:19. Those who had seen Jesus on the road, were back in Jerusalem telling the Apostles, and any other disciples that were with them, that they had seen Jesus. Now Jesus appears in the room with them. As Jesus calms them, he does something very human, and in Luke 24:41 he says, “Do you have anything to eat here?”

The Doors Had Been Shut Because of Fear

John 20:19–23
Some of them had been at the tomb that morning and seen for themselves that it was empty. John 20:10 says “the disciples went away again to their own homes”, but a better understanding would be that “they returned to their own company … The Syriac renders it, “to their own place”, and so the Arabic and Persic versions; the place from whence they came, and where the rest were assembled together, to pray, converse, and consult together, what was to be done at this juncture”.1

And this makes sense that they would be hiding away talking and thinking about what would happen next, and the two disciples who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus had just returned telling them they had seen him.

“While John may have ‘believed’ (8), and Mary may have testified to her meeting with the risen Jesus (18), the reality of the resurrection has still to emerge among the disciple group with any degree of conviction; hence the locked doors and the continuing fear for their skins (19). Suddenly … Jesus is there visibly in their midst!”2 

Do Not be Unbelieving, But Believing

John 20:24–31
We have likely all heard the story of doubting Thomas. He is the one described here in John 20:24-28. Even though Jesus had told them to meet him in Galilee after his resurrection, they are huddled here “The setting is Jerusalem … in a room which may well have been where the last supper was held just three days before (cf. Acts 1:13; 12:12)”2

But in John 20:24 “Thomas … was not with them when Jesus came”. Now, this was “evening on that day” from John 20:19, the same day they found the tomb empty. So where was Thomas? From his attitude in John 20:25, “I will never believe!” it seems he was finished with all of this. In fact, it is eight days later that they are all gathered again in the same room, again with the doors closed, but now Thomas is with them in John 20:26-27. Jesus says to Thomas, “Place your finger here and see my hands, and place your hand and put it* into my side. And do not be unbelieving, but believing!” Now, Thomas responds, in John 20:28 “My Lord and My God!” And now, Jesus says, in John 20:29 “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”. How hard is it for you to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven? This is the message, the gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus died, his blood making atonement with God for our sin. But not only that, now we are accepted by God, his sons and daughters.

Study Verses

Today’s Reading

  • Matthew 28:9-15
  • Luke 24:13-43
  • John 20:14-31

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – The Gospels

This series follows the order of readings from the Tyndale One Year Chronological Bible. Covering these events chronologically as they happened, gives a much different context and helps us understand the move of God as He is introducing the Saviour, the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. This series begins with Return To Me And I Will Return To You at the end of Malachi and introduces the “Witnesses” writing the Gospels.

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  • 1. Gill, John (1748). Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
  • 2. Milne, B. (1993). The message of John: here is your king!: with study guide (p. 297). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.