Devotional Thoughts: "These are Written so that You may Believe!"

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John 20:19-31

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe/ continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Let's begin at the end this time for our message. Why? Because verse 30 and 31 is the Thesis Statement for the Gospel of John, telling us clearly and beautifully why all of this has been painstakingly written and preserved over the centuries by the direction of God.

Usually, I read this text on Easter or around Easter and I find myself tearing up in church most times I read it year after year. My voice cracks, or wavers in strength and tears well up, clouding my vision so that I have trouble reading my sermon notes. Why do you think that is?

Part of it I think has to do with the satisfaction of a good ending, where the audience is let in on the point of it all. That is pretty gratifying when you finally get it... "I finally figured it out!"

I try to be a person who focuses more on the "big picture" than on the minutia. I try pretty hard to not miss the forest for the trees. These two verses give us a big piece of the meta-narrative... or the grand story... of what God is doing within His Creation on a worldwide scale. Verse 30 and 31 provide a very big picture indeed!

What is God's intent for The Gospel of John? How is The Gospel of John to be understood and/or embraced and/or applied? We need to know the answer! These words were put to page so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life! It just feels good to be let in on the Grand Tapestry of God's redemptive plan!

I also think tears come a little easier to me when reading this verse because I'm pretty overwhelmed that God cared enough about me to send His Son so that I might be brought back home into the fold once again! That really does mean a lot to me personally. God cares for us deeply and I truly believe knew us by name 2,000 years ago and made sure that The Gospel of John said what it needed to say for our benefit and the benefit of humanity.

"These are written so that Ryan may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him he would have life." We could go around the room couldn't we... "These are written so that ________ may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah...." This is not some cold textbook or merely a clinical historical record. These scriptures have been revealed for a glorious purpose flowing from an eternal and unfailing love for us! What a gift we have received! "These are written that YOU may believe!" YOU! God has reached out to all of us on a personal level!

Maybe I get teary eyed when I read this text because, as a human being, I feel deep within that there should be something more to this life than living and working and struggling and running in that economic or materialistic rat race (There better be more than just breathing and paying taxes and dying). All human beings are looking for a deeper understanding of life or a deeper experience of life. A life with purpose. A life that endures. I life that transcends our environment and/or surroundings.

I think most everyone knows that they were created for something more, or hopes/prays/wishes that they were created for something more. To know that in Christ there is life is the gift of all gifts! The Greek here for life in The Gospel of John is zoe and contextually seems to be used throughout John to describe eternal life.... the life that Christ provides. Sometimes "Psuche" is used in this gospel (where we get psychology), but this word is used primarily to describe losing one's life or Jesus giving his life... his whole self... for us.

What peace flows into our hearts to know that our inner compass pointing us to something greater wasn't just wishful thinking or our imagination running wild, but instead something that God gave us to point us towards the eternal and abundant and meaningful and full life that Christ provides! That'll bring tears to your eyes... We have found what our comprehensive self has been searching for from the very beginning... from when we engaged in our first breath!

A few quotes continue to emphasize this point...

"As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My being thirst for God, teh living God. When can I go and see the face of God? Psalm 42:1-3

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. if one of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only arouse it, to suggest the real thing." CS Lewis

"The simple desire for God is already the beginning of faith. All of us have doubts. They are nothing to worry about. Our deepest desire is to listen to Christ, who whispers in our hearts." -Brother Roger of Taize

These truths have brought me tears of joy, season after season, as I have read this text, and I am grateful.

And how did we arrive here? How did we get to the point where we can say: "We Believe!" We have not seen the resurrected body of Jesus like Thomas and the other disciples did. We didn't have that benefit. Jesus taught us to "walk by faith." We cannot exclusively "walk by sight" any longer.

By the grace of God, unleashed fully through the cross of Christ and through the empty tomb, our souls have tenderized or softened or opened so that we can receive Jesus, becoming His disciples. This did not happen because of some intellectual ascent or because of inductive reasoning or because of state-of-the-art empirical research.

This happened because we have seen the Resurrected Jesus through the eyes of our heart, and this sight is possible because of the work of the Holy Spirit. Blessed are we, for we have not seen with our eyes, yet we believe. I am so thankful that our vision is much more comprehensive!

Thanks be to God,


[Ryan Edgecombe
Broadwell Christian Church
Central Presbyterian Church - Petersburg]


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