Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, He appeared to
the apostles and some others to prove that He had actually risen from the
dead, and to encourage them to continue on with the ministry He started.
Let’s begin by looking at what we are told in John 20:19-31.
19. When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews [Temple leaders], Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
The important thing for us to understand is that the emphasis on having
the doors shut is to show that Jesus did not come through the doorway, but
just appeared in their midst.
This tells us that His bodily form was all spiritual, for He could pass through walls and appear and disappear as He chose, and at the same time have a body that appeared to be physical.
20. And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
This last statement seems to indicate that Jesus looked somewhat different than He did when He was alive among them, for their recognition only came after He showed His wounds to them.
21. Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
This is the encouragement for them to continue in the ministry. They are not to just return to their home and feel sad. They are to rejoice in Jesus, and spread His teachings of being loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God to everyone else that they possibly can.
22. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
This is the power to go forth and carry out the ministry with authority,
just as we are to do today.
Then Jesus gives them an awesome responsibility.
23. "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
Meditate on this for a little while, and at the same time think about
where we came from, and the horrible things we may have done, such as our
indifference to the suffering of animals, particularly so-called “food
animals,” and how we changed and were forgiven.
This is why it is so important for us to have a forgiving spirit, so that we can forgive any truly repentant person no matter what they may have done previously.
And if some of you are still living in the sinful and corrupt ways of the world with all its pain, suffering and death, then it is even more important for you that we have a forgiving spirit.
Keeping this in mind, let’s return to the Bible passage before us.
24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not
with them when Jesus came.
25. The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
This is why he has been given the nickname of “doubting Thomas,” and that name has also been applied to doubters even to this very day.
26. And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you."
Note again that Jesus just appeared with them behind closed doors.
27. Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and
see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not
unbelieving, but believing."
28. Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29. Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."
Are any of us a doubting Thomas, or are we true believers?
30. Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the
presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
31. but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
This is the key to being a Christian, but we cannot stop here. We are being sent out into the world as children of God, to free the whole of creation from its present corruption, and because of our love and the fruit of our actions and lifestyle, others will believe and follow. Note what we are told in Romans 8:18-23.
18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
20. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21. that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
23. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Only the hard of heart would turn their backs on the suffering of
As children of God, we are to help free creation from its present corruption.
This is a vital part of our ministry.
But ministry isn’t always easy, as we are told in Acts 5:27-32.
27. And when they had brought them [the apostles], they
stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them,
28. saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name [Jesus], and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
This shows that these religious leaders really know the truth, and the
evil they did and are continuing to do because of their hardness of heart.
And a similar problem exists today among most church leaders, particularly when it comes to their indifference to the suffering of animals and the people who care about them.
29. But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men.
Do we have the same kind of courage and confidence to speak out boldly as they did to the people in authority? Well, this is exactly what we are to do.
30. "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had
put to death by hanging Him on a cross.
31. "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32. "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."
This is proof that Jesus had no intention of starting a new religion. His
real intention was to bring Israel back into the kingdom of God, but their
leaders kept leading them astray.
This is also very similar to what is happening in the world today.
And, like Jesus and the apostles, we are to openly challenge their hardness of heart.
In Revelation 1:4-8, we are given a message from heaven that confirms our call to service.
4. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to
you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the
seven Spirits who are before His throne;
5. and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood,
6. and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We are specifically being told that Jesus made us to be a kingdom of
priests to minister before the world to free the whole of creation from its
present corruption, to bring glory to God.
Jesus sends us to heal the world as the peacemaking children of God that He called us to be.
This is who we are to be every day of our lives as witnesses to the world of who Jesus was and is, and as proof that He will come again.
7. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will
see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will
mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
8. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
We hope we all believe this, because this truth affects our very hearts
Have we accepted the call and commission that Jesus sends us to heal the world from its present corruption as peacemaking children of God?
We sure hope so, for this isn’t a call to someone else; it’s a call to each and every one of us.
We need to feel the pain and suffering of every animal who is being exploited by our fellow human beings.
We need to feel the pain and suffering of our fellow human beings who are caught in our warring madness.
And we need to feel the suffering of our environment that is being polluted and destroyed by human selfishness.
For the whole of creation is anxiously waiting for us to reveal ourselves and end their pain and suffering.
Accept the call.
Accept the challenge.
The whole of creation needs us.