Chapter 20:24-31 (ESV) - Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.”
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.” 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.
Question to consider: For whom did John write this book?
Although it helps to have section titles within our scripture translations to easily draw our attention to a particular text, I think it has some disadvantages as well. The main one is that we tend to mentally break apart passages by these section titles as if they were entirely separate thoughts by the author. The same thing can be said of chapter breaks. Every translation has the last two verses of this chapter set apart as John’s purpose for writing this gospel account.
While it is good to know why John wrote his book, I’ve seen some commentators suggest that this was John’s original ending and that the next chapter was added later. I don’t believe the last two verses of this chapter are meant to be a separate thought from the events of this chapter. John was pointing out the unbelief of the disciples even after they had seen the empty tomb and had heard from Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, and another person who had encountered Christ risen from the dead. With all Jesus had said to them and with all of the scriptures that pointed to His mission on earth, the testimony of these people should have given them cause for rejoicing at the empty tomb rather than continuing to hide in fear.
Jesus appeared to them to create faith and equip them to continue His work. Even after hearing from the other disciples, Thomas still did not believe. We can commend Thomas for honestly dealing with his unbelief and for believing when Jesus appeared to Him and recognizing that Jesus was God, but Jesus’ statement was about those who would come later who would believe even without seeing Jesus.
John wrote this gospel to reassure those who were questioning whether Christ really came in the flesh, but it can also be applied to every generation since then so that we may have the same faith as Thomas and the other disciples even though we don’t get to see Christ this side of heaven. We also are sent out to offer Christ’s forgiveness of sins, and we also receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized into the new covenant.
John didn’t end here because there was one more loose end that needed to be dealt with— the restoration of a disciple who had denied his Lord.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for giving us Your word which blesses us with belief in Your Son. Please let it do its work of creating and sustaining our faith. Amen.