Believe in Christ and Find Life (John 20:19-31)

“I’ll believe it when I see it!” I heard this often early in my marriage after promises to pick up after myself. “Sweetie, I promise I will stop throwing my socks in the middle of the floor.” “I’ll believe it when I see it!”
“Sweetie, I promise I will clean my dishes after I use them.” “I’ll believe it when I see it!” “Sweetie, I promise I will fold my clothes before I put them in my drawers.” “I’ll believe it when I see it!” I learned an important lesson early in my marriage, it was much better to show my wife what I was going to do rather than tell her what I was going to do. As the saying goes, “Seeing is believing.”

The Apostle John wrote his gospel so people could see Jesus and believe that he was the Christ, the Son of God. John was the last one to write a gospel account. He was very familiar with the Matthew, Mark, and Luke and wrote a gospel to further declare of the divinity of Jesus Christ. The gospel of John is written different than all the rest of the gospels. John gives us the reason why he wrote this gospel in John 20:30-31,

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.

I want you to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Believe in the Resurrection of the Savior

Jesus was crucified and was buried. He was dead and gone. You can imagine the fear and astonishment that gripped the disciples as they waited into the room. They had just lost their master and close friend. They were afraid that they were also going to be punished so they locked themselves into a house. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Jesus Christ appears and is standing among them. The natural response would have been fear and amazement. “I can’t believe what I am seeing!!! Could this really be happening?” Jesus said to them (at the end of verse 19),

“Peace be with you.” When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

The disciples were naturally in disbelief at first. They didn’t know what to think. It is like when you are in a dark room and step out into the sunlight, it takes a few seconds to adjust to the light. Jesus showed them his nail scarred hands and pierced side. After seeing that this was not a ghost, but the literal, bodily resurrected Christ, the disciples became glad. Their hearts that were filled with darkness and fear were now bursting with light and hope. They saw the risen Christ.

It is hard to overestimate the dramatic change that happened to the disciples in that moment. The resurrection changes everything. And more importantly, for us, believing in the resurrection changes everything. Jesus shows his nailed scarred hands and his pierced side reminding his disciples of his brutal death for sinners then he calls those sinners to be witnesses of his resurrection. In Acts 1:22, Peter, in speaking of a replacement for Judas Iscariot said, “one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 

The disciples knew their purpose was to testify of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now notice how the resurrection is intimately connected with the forgiveness of sins. Without the resurrection there would be no forgiveness of sins!! 1 Corinthians 15:17,

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Beloved, the resurrection is the reason that we have any hope for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus died for our sins and was raised as our hope. His resurrection proves that God will forgive the sins of those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Rejoice!! Rejoice in the living hope that has been given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

And as we rejoice, we are called to share our hope. John 20:24,

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.”

The disciples did exactly what the Lord sent them out to do. They shared with Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” He is risen. He overcame the grave. We saw his hands. We saw his side. He is alive. Thomas responds, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” This is the only account in all the gospels of “Doubting Thomas” incident. It would be wise for us to ask, “Why?” it is here.

In God’s providence, he shares this story with us because there are many today that think just like Thomas. Unless I see with my eyes and feel with my hands, I will never believe. Naturalism rules our society. If we cannot observe it in nature, then we disregard its veracity. Thomas was a realist. He wanted to see, he wanted to touch. Like Thomas, many in our day disregard the biblical account because they themselves cannot see it. God knew there was going to be people like Thomas.

And God meets Thomas’s demands. John 20:26-27,

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.”

Jesus is so kind. He knew Thomas’s doubts. He knew his heart. He came with 5 words that are true for
every “Doubting Thomas,” “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” He said, “Unless I see, I will never believe.” And after seeing the resurrected Jesus, Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” This is a stunning declaration. One writer notes, “Thomas’s response forms the high point of confession in the Gospel.[1]

John brings his readers back the beginning of this gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ is indeed Lord and God. This is the highest declaration that any person could make of Jesus Christ. The New Testament writers clearly viewed Jesus Christ as God. His resurrection proves that He is God. Paul writes in Romans 1:3, concerning Jesus, that He “was declared to be the Son of God by the Spirit of holiness in his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thomas got it. He listened to Jesus’ words, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Thomas believed in the resurrection from the dead. The realist believed, but how he came to believe is what John wants us to see. Verse 29,

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John’s gospel is one of the latest written books in the New Testament. By the time of his writing, many people would have not had the opportunity to see Jesus in the flesh, but would only have the opportunity to hear of him. John wanted people to hear the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We have not seen Jesus in the flesh and we have not touched him, but we are blessed because we believe. This story is written so that we would know that we are no less than those who had the privilege of seeing Jesus in the flesh. Thomas heard the words of Jesus regarding his death and resurrection, but when he heard that the Lord was raised from the dead, he doubted. “Unless I see, I will never believe.”

Is that you today? Are you like Thomas the realist? Do you need to see it in order to believe it? Jesus is saying to you, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 1 Peter 1:8-9,

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Beloved, believe in the resurrection of the Savior. Do not disbelieve, but believe. Christians have not seen Him in the flesh, but we love him. We do not now see him, but we believe and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible. We believe we are forgiven in the resurrection. We believe we have a living hope in the resurrection. We believe we have purpose in the resurrection. We believe the dead are not lost in the resurrection. We believe we are not condemned in the resurrection. We believe we have peace with God in the resurrection. We believe in the resurrection and that causes our hearts to rejoice with joy that is inexpressible. Believe in the resurrection and believe in all the benefits promised to us in the resurrection.

One benefit is the resurrection reconciles sinners.

Believe in the Reconciliation of the Sinner

Verse 30-31,

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 (meaning these things were written so you would believe in the resurrection Rom 1:3), and that by believing you may have life in his name (emphasis & parenthesis added).

John does not want you only to believe in the resurrection, he wants your life to be changed because it. He wants you to find life. Jesus Christ died and rose again that you may find life in his name.


The believing that John speaks of is not an easy believing, but a believing that should change your life. If your life looks like every other person in your neighborhood or at your job and there is no distinct difference in your life because of your belief in the resurrection, then you do not have the right kind of believing and you do not have true life. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

God wants to give you His new life. He wants to make you a new creation. He wants you to live a resurrected life. It is a resurrected life because our former life is dead. Our old life is buried in the tomb, but the stone has been rolled away. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come. The resurrection brings new life and the only way to find that new life is by believing that God can reconcile sinners. Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. Put your faith in Jesus Christ. Believe in his death and resurrection and find life in his name. Do not be deceived, true believing is having life in his name. If you know you do not have true life, then repent and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. True believing equals true life. Do not disbelieve, but believe.


[1] Borchert, G. L. (2002). John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, p. 314). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Steven Brazzell

Charlotte, NC