In the twentieth century, this chapter was relegated to the role of add-on. In this century, cooler heads have prevailed. There are no—zero—manuscripts without this ending, and no one in ancient times ever suggested it was added later.
1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. ESV
The phrase after this tells us little. There is no way to know how long they lingered in the city. At the least three days were needed to walk to the north shore from Jerusalem, perhaps more. Nor can we know how dangerous it was for them to leave the city. They may have left singly or in pairs, arranging to meet along the road. Undoubtedly, if they walked out as a group in daylight, they would have faced possible arrest. Do not forget they would return to Jerusalem in another month or less.
The Greek records the lake as the Sea of Tiberias. By the end of the century, the name was the one most Christians knew.
Seven men, Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two others, decide to go fishing. The two unnamed disciples may not have been of the eleven. Notice that John is indirectly named here as a son of Zebedee.
I get the sense here that the disciples are waiting for directions. They may or may not know that Pentecost is the next milestone, but they have little to do for now except talk to one another about their years with their Master and try to understand more fully what it all means.
Peter, the man of action, is bored and decides to see if he can still catch fish. Six join him, and the others opt to watch from the shore. Or something.
Any fisherman can tell about a night of no fish. On the other hand, the disciples may not have been trying very hard.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. ESV
I like that Jesus called them children. They are children of God.
The disciple whom Jesus loved told Peter they were looking at Jesus. There were only seven men on the boat and John is named, but two are nameless. That narrows things down to three men as the one whom Jesus loved. I still vote for John over two who did not rate names.
Peter, likely like the others, had stripped down to his undies. He chose to slip his robe back on to be presentable before wading ahead of the rest. The boat was two hundred cubits out, which equals 300 feet, or a hundred yards. The slope was likely gentle there, so Peter did not have to swim far. The man of action.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. ESV
Jesus had arrived early enough to get a fire going and to have some fish cooking already. By this time, everyone knew they were looking at Jesus.
Notice Peter personally dragged the net ashore. If the large fish weighed two pounds each, that would be over 300 pounds, not counting the wet net. Do not doubt the strength of Peter.
As John records it, Jesus first appeared to the ten, then the eleven when Thomas returned; now Jesus appears for the third time on the shore of the lake.
Many people, especially on the internet, have tried to make a big deal about the number 153. There are a few important numbers in the Bible—seven, ten, three—but mostly they are just numbers.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” ESV
The Greek word translated breakfast simply means principal meal. The first of two meals was typically eaten mid-morning. This sunrise feast would have been a treat. John no doubt had fond memories of that particular meal for many reasons.
We should remember that John helped Peter enter the inner court of the High Priest. While he did not overhear Peter’s denials, he heard very soon after. Now, he may be within hearing as Jesus questions the man who was and will be the leader of the Twelve.
Jesus indeed used two words for love and Peter used only one. Ian Paul has an excellent post (April 30, 2019, on https://www.psephizo.com/) where he points out that John and others use the same two words interchangeably. The words are agapeo and phileo—the high moral love and brotherly love. Paul stresses that Greek speakers in the first century saw little difference in the two terms, so John did not worry about them. He seems to have followed the lead of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, which used them interchangeably.
The same is true of the three commands Jesus gave to Peter. The first and third were bosko, to feed, and the second was poimaino, to shepherd or tend. Both words end up with feed because the shepherd leads them to grass. Jesus uses arnia, lambs, first, then probata, sheep, for two and three.
Ian Paul concludes by emphasizing that Jesus is giving his number one leader a chance to heal from the shame of denying Jesus. It may be that the third question finally stirred up the caustic emotions of his denials of his Master.
William Barclay points out that Peter’s confession of love leads Jesus to command him to give up his life as a fisherman and spend the rest of his life helping the fledgling Church become an instrument for God’s Kingdom on earth. Satisfied, Jesus simply says, as he says to all of us, follow me.
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. 25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. ESV
I will give Karen H. Jobes the final words.
“Lord, what about him?” I have no idea if John intended this to be humorous, but I find it amusing that, after being reconciled in his relationship with Jesus and appointed to shepherd Jesus’ followers, Peter’s first words were to get into another person’s business. There is an implicit comparison intended in the information Peter seeks. How does his relationship with Jesus stack up against Jesus’ relationship with the beloved disciple? How like human nature! We all seem interested in the question, “But what about him?” Jesus was quick to nip the direction of Peter’s thoughts in the bud. “What is that to you?” is a rebuke that tells Peter to mind his own business. And his business was to follow Jesus regardless: “You must follow me” (with the emphatic Greek singular pronoun su, “you”) emphasizing Peter’s charge in contrast to that of others. Peter apparently got the point, for many years later he instructs his own readers in 1 Peter 4:15 not to meddle in the business of others. …
Peter and the beloved disciple—whether he was John the son of Zabedee or another man—were two great apostles of the early Christian church. And yet as the fourth gospel tells it, they were quite different from one another, had different gifts and abilities, different roles in the Lord’s work, and different destinies in life. There may have been an element of competition between them. The worth of Peter could not be measured by comparison to the perceived worth of the beloved disciple, or vice versa. Sheep are not all the same, but they are called to unity in the flock when they all follow the same Good Shepherd.
1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” ESV
Matthew 28: 1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. ESV
Mark 16: 1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. ESV
Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. ESV
Looking first at the women, we see Mary Magdalene (4x), Mary the mother of James (2x), Mary (1), Salome (1), Joanna (1), and other women. The different lists should not be an issue; they all suggest that there were some unnamed women. Even John has Mary saying, we do not know where they have laid him.
Critics of the Faith make a great fuss about these different accounts. How can we believe anything in the NT when they can not get the most essential part of the story right?
Actually, the essential part is there in all four; Jesus left the tomb. And women were the first to know that.
Each of the women who saw the tomb remembered it differently. Think about a shared trauma, like 9-11 or witnessing a car crash; each person remembers bits and pieces, and even putting them all together may not tell the whole story.
John had Mary Magdalene walking the city streets in the dark during the hour before sunrise. Normally, no woman would have been out at night, let alone by herself. We do not know if Passover made it possible. We also do not know how difficult it would have been to pass through the guarded gate; a woman leaving the city probably would not have been considered a threat. What is not said is that she was violating the high Sabbath by going before the first day of the week began at sunrise. Whatever we say on that point would be pure speculation. I think John wanted to show her eagerness and her devotion.
We see in Mary a follower of Jesus who could not wait to see his grave. No one could go there on Saturday, the high Sabbath. According to William Barclay, the tradition in that culture was to visit the grave for three days after the burial because the person’s soul was believed to be hanging around that long before going up or down.
Matthew alone recorded Pilate ordering the posting of guards, so his including them in the visit by the angel from heaven is natural. However, the angel spoke only to the women and told them to tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where Jesus was waiting for them.
While the guards saw the angel, no one else did except the two Marys. No one in or near Jerusalem saw or heard them. This is like the visit of the heavenly hosts singing at Jesus’ birth; only the shepherds saw and heard.
Mark also has an angel, but he is a young man sitting inside the tomb. The angel says to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. The three women go into hiding, telling no one what they saw and heard.
Luke has two angels appear as men in ‘dazzling’ clothes. They also mention Galilee, but only to quote what Jesus said while he was teaching there.
Here is a quote from Vincent Taylor from his 1959 commentary on Mark about the differences regarding the women. The existing variations and obscurities have arisen from early traditions which identified the witnesses with the Galilean women who ministered to Jesus and His disciples and accompanied them to Jerusalem. Apparently the party consisted of several women, possibly as many as six or even more. Naturally, at different centres of Palestinian Christianity the lists would differ. All agreed that Mary of Maddala was one of the number, but at one centre the names of local women would be remembered and at another centre those of others.
When reading the Bible, it is always necessary to reshape our modern minds into the ancient way of life. In the first century, information sharing was primarily verbal. For three decades, people-told-people stories about Jesus. We must remember that the literacy rate in Palestine was most likely below ten percent. It could be challenging to find even one man who could read Hebrew in most small villages. In Synagogue worship, reading the scrolls was essential. Some faked it by reciting the text from memory while holding the scroll.
In Jerusalem, literacy might have been higher than ten percent. In Rome, the rate is thought to have exceeded twenty percent. Those numbers refer to the male population as women were seldom taught the skill in ancient societies.
For the first decade of The Way, as it was called, believers were mostly Jewish. They told the stories to one another in Aramaic because Hebrew was unknown to most Jews. As The Way spread into the Greek-speaking world, translations had to be made. That fell to the few well-educated believers. Initially, they would have written one or two stories on papyrus. Papyrus held up about as well as modern newsprint. Into the third decade, three men felt the call to collect the stories and put them together in Gospels—The Good News.
3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. ESV
Matthew: 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. ESV
Mark presents us with the problem of which manuscripts to accept. The oldest stop with verse 8. Newer ones add verses 9-20, but some also expand verse 8 with: Then they quickly reported all these instructions to those around Peter. After this, Jesus himself also sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen. Only one manuscript has the extension of verse 8 as the end of the Gospel. Verses 9-11: Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. ESV
Luke continues the sentence,11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.ESV
You can see that the four Gospels are all over the map at this point. Luke and John have Peter checking the tomb, and Mark mentions Peter, but only to send the eleven to Galilee.
As we read these four accounts, we see them as parts of a whole—side-by-side—which gives us the impression that they should be consistent. We must never forget that their writings were spread over nearly sixty years. The church had been expanding for more than two decades before Mark wrote the first Gospel, with Matthew and Luke following over the next decade.
We do not know where the first two authors lived in the years before writing, or even who they were for sure. We do know more about Luke, though not with certainty. The book of the Acts of the Apostles identifies him—probably. Luke is known to have traveled in Greece with Paul, but it does not prove the same person wrote the two volumes for Theophilus. I side with the early Church Fathers who first put the names to the four Gospels on the writings.
Assuming all four were disciples of Jesus during his ministry (though John Mark was a young teen), they would have traveled outward from Jerusalem to spread the faith. They may have seen each other a few times over the decades, but mostly they had different lives. Each of them wrote their Gospel from the perspective of the people they were working with at the time. To say it another way, they wanted their fellowship of believers to learn more about Jesus than they already knew. I do not believe that they were writing for you and me. They did not expect believers to be still reading their works two or three centuries later, let alone twenty centuries.
I believe that God inspired every book of the Bible, but he did not dictate the words. Mark sat down with a collection of memories, notes, and recent accounts by others, prayed for guidance and began to write. With the presence of the Holy Spirit, he was able to write a text that spoke to his people at that time. With the Holy Spirit, we can place ourselves in the first century and understand what Mark meant—to some extent. The more we know about the first century, the easier it is for us. [That is my plug for reading history.]
I cannot say which of the four has the most historically accurate account. My personal preference for this passage is John, mostly because he takes three key people and uses them to witness to the resurrection.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” ESV
We can only assume that Peter and John left the tomb without passing Mary. She arrived there a second time, not having entered the first time. When she looked this time, she saw two angels. Think back just a bit. Peter saw the empty bedclothes; John may have as well. There is no record of angels until moments later when Mary sticks her head inside. She does not seem to take them as angels but continues to cry for her lost Master.
J. Ramsey Michaels writes, John has left us with two cameo glimpses of what was in the tomb of Jesus: one through a man’s eyes and one through a woman’s, one consisting of so-called hard evidence, the other a “vision of angels.” The first is a stereotypical “male” vision, the second just as stereotypically “female.”
Michaels also writes that Peter clearly saw the linens, but John may have seen the same angels Mary saw minutes later. I have no trouble believing that God would present two different “pictures” for the men to see. Peter was hard-headed, while John was more of a mystic. It is speculation but an intriguing possibility.
The following exchange between Mary and Jesus is poignant. She is so distraught that she does not recognize him. She is in this state because of her love for Jesus. We have to allow that her love for him may have included a romantic, worldly element in addition to her strong agape love for her Master. Yes, that is stereotypically “female.”
More importantly, we learn that she is willing to carry his body back to his disciples. That shows us the depth of her devotion.
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. ESV
At first, I slid past the powerful meaning of three words in verse 16. J. Ramsey Michaels spelled it out for me. Only two words are spoken, Mary and Rabboni. As Michaels describes it, Jesus reverts to the account in 10:3b: He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. NIV Even here, John gives us another testimony that what Jesus says and does is Truth.
She turned tells us two things. Mary did not recognize Jesus by looking at him, but she, like the sheep, recognized his voice. She broke out of her pit of despair and turned to him. The turning is equal to a conversion. She instantly stopped believing Jesus was dead and accepted his resurrection. That testimony should help any of us turn our faces to Jesus.
The passage can trip up the unwary Christian. How did John know that Mary called Jesus Rabboni? He was not there. Did he invent the story? Do not forget that Mary and many other women were part of the hardcore discipleship. She may have told the Apostles that she called Jesus Teacher in verse 18. But, she may not have seen the importance of using the title until months or years later when she was retelling the story for them once again. This should not trouble anyone.
It is important that John felt the need, sixty years later, to use the Aramaic Rabboni instead of Teacher. By the end of the first century, the Church was overwhelmingly Greek. Did John want to remind his readers that every one of the first disciples was a Jew? He had been doing that all through his Gospel, but this one word and its translation seems to stand out.
Through the centuries and down to our times, some scholars have argued that John hated Jews because he so often had Jesus clash with them. As we have seen, the clashes could not be avoided because the Jewish leaders were wrong, and Jesus was on earth to bring the Truth of God. Yes, he lumped them into the term Jews, but he never disparaged the True Faith. As he writes at the end of the first century, he seeks to present the Jewish Jesus who was both Man and God. He does that by presenting Jesus as the perfect Jew.
Verse 17 has given us followers problems since John wrote it. Why did Jesus tell Mary Do not cling to me? A few verses later, Jesus invites Thomas to touch his wounds. With that contrast, many have assumed Jesus did not want to be touched by a woman, at least not after his resurrection. Sadly, that gender bias exists today as it has throughout the centuries.
If we read all four Gospels in one sitdown, it should become evident that Jesus had nothing but respect for women and often had them touch him. Mary likely reached out to her master as she had usually done. But now is not the time, so Jesus pushes her away with a mission. Karen H. Jobes writes; Mary, like Thomas later in the chapter, lives during the transition from Jesus’ earthly life to his resurrection life. While she nostalgically wishes for a return of their previous relationship, Jesus is establishing a new type of relationship with her.
The old male-bias argument loses its punch even before verse 17 ends, but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Jesus sends out his first missionary and she is a woman.
The brothers Jesus refers to are his Apostles. He calls them brothers because they are no longer just his devoted disciples, they are now fellow sons of God. With what we already know from the Gospel, we can add that anyone, then to now, who believes in the Son of God becomes brother and sister to Jesus.
Mary sets the standard for missionary work by going at once to deliver the Good News.
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” ESV
John harkens back to chapter 1 and to Genesis with this first day of the new week. While it is easier for us to call him Jesus now, it is inaccurate. He is no longer the Son of Man, he has returned to his true being, the Son of God. Through resurrection, the universe is recreated. We no longer depend on the power of one human being; instead, we have the capability of the Son of God to give us new life.
The locked doors are both physical and symbolic. Even though Peter and John ventured out in the hour before dawn, the eleven—and likely other followers—were hiding during the daylight, though Thomas was hiding with others. The symbolism is that the Son of God can join us wherever we are. The human Jesus would have been forced to knock to enter.
This entry to the room by Jesus should not be confused with Revelation 3:20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. ESV The disciples long before opened their hearts to Jesus; he only knocks on doors of those who do not yet believe.
I doubt that it took much effort to convince the disciples that Jesus was who he said he was. At least two of the men saw the empty tomb and Mary relayed Jesus’ message to them in the morning. As Mary was the first to be a missionary, Jesus now tells the men that they are to follow her example.
The next verse can confuse, but it need not do so. Yes, it is another fifty days to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit will descend like tongues of fire, but this giving of the Spirit is limited in scope and meaning. J. Ramsey Michaels writes; As we saw [in 19:30] the “Spirit” he handed over was the Holy Spirit that came down on him and “remained”, and was his “without measure”. When the Spirit left him, he stopped breathing and died, but now he “breathed” again. This was proof to the disciples that Jesus was alive, not a ghost. The Spirit Jesus breathed on them was a kind of small dose to tide them over.
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.” 26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ESV
While Thomas believed in Jesus, he had doubts about what the others had told him. Eight days later (our Monday) he was given the proof he asked for. We can now slide past the locked doors and deal with the important happenings. Jesus witnesses to Thomas and Thomas witnesses to us by calling Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus’ closing statement may seem to be a chastisement of Thomas, but it is simply a reminder to us that we can believe because Thomas touched the wounds and told us to believe. His doubt was satisfied and ours should be as well.
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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. ESV
John has provided us with plenty of witnesses of the humanity of Jesus, of his Messiahship, and of his return to his rightful place as the Son of God. The Gnostics were and continue to be wrong. Jesus freely gave up his position on the throne of God to become a human, one who experienced hunger, fatigue, frustration, and being a teenager. In all that, he never once turned away from God. He never once failed to do the will of God. He was the perfect witness of God.
But more than all that, he willingly met Death, defeated him, and took up the battle with the Prince of Darkness, all to save us from Hell.