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How to handle doubts

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Topic Scripture: John 20:24-31

Thesis: Jesus will give every doubter who asks the miraculous gift of his presence

One of my favorite stories concerns a Baptist young man who went away to college and made himself obnoxious to his friends by bragging constantly about his Baptist heritage. According to him, everything about Baptists was right, and everyone else was wrong. That might have been tolerated at a Baptist college, but this wasn’t and most of his friends weren’t. They finally devised a plan to get even.

One Friday night they slipped some sleeping powder into their Baptist friend’s coffee. When he passed out, they loaded him into a car and drove him out of the city to a remote graveyard. They’d already done their work well. They had a large coffin there, with its lid open. They put their friend in the coffin and hid behind a nearby tombstone to see what would happen when he woke up.

For a long while, nothing happened. Night passed; dawn came. The sun began to rise and its long rays cast shadows through the mist collecting on the ground. And they were hiding and chuckling, “It won’t be long now.”

A moment later they heard a noise in the casket. Then they saw an arm come up and stretch itself. Then another arm. And then their Baptist friend sat up and looked around. And they were saying, “This is it. He’s going to look around, see where he is, scream and jump up and run out of the graveyard, and we’re going to laugh about it for the rest of our lives.”

Instead, the young Baptist looked around at the other grave plots and shouted, “Hallelujah! It’s the resurrection morning, and the Baptists are the first ones up!”

Easter is the highest and greatest day of the entire year. But a lot of people miss the celebration. In a recent survey, 46% of non-Christians said they didn’t even know why Christians observe Easter. This study will help.

On this Sunday after Easter, let’s meet a man for whom the resurrection occurred a week late. Thomas proves that it’s not too late for anyone to meet the risen Christ, no matter their doubts or fears. We know people who are struggling with their faith. And we know how doubts feel. What Jesus did for Thomas, he’s waiting this week to do for us.

Expect doubts (v. 24a)

Jesus made five appearances on the first Easter Sunday: to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to the two on the road to Emmaus, to Peter, and then to the other Ten. He would make five other post-resurrection appearances over the next 40 days. But none was more significant than the event we’ll study this week.

Our story begins with the fact of spiritual doubt. The disciples had met on the first Easter “with the doors locked for fear of the Jews” (John 20.19). Now , a week later, their doors were still locked (v. 26). Their fear of the authorities was still very real. The same people who executed Jesus might be looking for them. The most dangerous place in Jerusalem was with these followers of the convicted and crucified carpenter. But Thomas joined them anyway. If a man of such courage could experience doubt, so will we.

Here is a person so committed to Jesus that he exhorted the other disciples to join him in following their Lord to Jerusalem, that they might die with him (John 11.16). He was the one disciple willing to admit his questions so that he might follow Jesus more fully (John 14.5). He was still “one of the Twelve” (v. 24), the term used for Jesus’ closest followers even after Judas’s death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15.5, Revelatiom 21.14). Doubts are not just for the weak.

In fact, they affect everyone. The Bible is filled with Doubting Thomases. Think of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, doubting God’s commandment regarding the forbidden fruit; Cain doubting God and slaying Abel; Abraham doubting God, and Sarah laughing at her Lord; Jacob wrestling with him all night; Moses doubting him at the burning bush; the children of Israel doubting him and wandering for a generation in the wilderness; Peter doubting Jesus and denying him three times.

Thomas was not the first to have spiritual doubts, or the last. Even after they met the risen Lord, “the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28.16-17). Every one of us has been a Doubting Thomas at some point in our spiritual lives. Some of us are standing at his side today.

Frederick Buechner is right: “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” We all have doubts. To doubt that statement is to have a doubt about doubts. Such questions are part of every human experience.

Questions about the faith are not confined to those who claim such faith. According to George Hunter, the most important issue keeping secular people from Christian faith is doubt. Secular people doubt the claims of God’s word, partly because of the plural truth claims confronting people today. They also doubt the intelligence, relevance, and credibility of the church and its leaders.

Historian Will Durant speaks for millions: “God, who was once the consolation of our brief life and our refuge in bereavement and suffering, has apparently vanished from the scene; no telescope, no microscope discovers Him. Nothing is certain in life except defeat and death, a sleep from which there is no awakening. Faith and hope disappear. Doubt and despair are the order of the day.”

F. W. Robertson was widely hailed as one of England’s greatest preachers. One of his church members said, “I cannot describe the strange sensation during his sermon of union with him and communion with one another which filled us as he spoke. Nor can I describe the sense we had of a higher Presence with us as he spoke—the sacred awe which filled our hearts—the hushed stillness in which the smallest sound was startling—the calm eagerness of men who listened as if waiting for a word of revelation to resolve the doubt or to heal the sorrow of a life.”

But that young preacher saw his life and work very differently. He once wrote, “I wish I did not hate preaching so much, but the degradation of being a preacher is almost intolerable. The pulpit has lost its place.”

To be sure, there are those whose faith never seems to waiver. I still remember my awe at reading about an episode in the life of George Muller, the famous preacher and orphanage founder. On one occasion Muller was crossing the Atlantic by ship, when the vessel ran into a fog. Mr. Muller informed the captain that he was required in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.

“Impossible,” said the captain. “Very well,” replied Muller, “if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other means. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years.” “I would willingly help you,” said the captain, “but there’s nothing anyone can do.”

“Let us go to the chartroom and pray,” said Muller. “Do you know how dense the fog is?” asked the captain. “No,” was Muller’s answer. “My eye is not on the density of the fog but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.”

Together they went to the chartroom and Muller prayed, “O God, if it is consistent with Thy will, please remove the fog in five minutes. You know the engagement you made for me in Quebec on Saturday. I believe it is Your will that I make that appointment.” The captain was about to pray next, but Muller touched him on the shoulder and asked that he not. “First,” he said, “you do not believe He will; and second, I believe He has, so there is no need for you to pray about it.”

The captain looked amazed, so Muller continued, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to gain an audience with Him. Get up and open the door. You will find the fog gone.” The captain opened the door. The fog had disappeared.

Some believers have faith which never seems to waiver. But most of us agree with Steve Brown: “If you’ve never had a question about your faith, then you probably don’t have much faith.”

Tennyson was right:

There lives more faith in honest doubt,

Believe me, than in half the creeds.

Why are doubts so common to Christian faith? Because Christianity is relationship, and no relationship can be proven. Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God, and our neighbor as ourselves. It’s all relationship. And every relationship is founded on trust, on faith, never on sight. Seeing is never believing.

Prove that your wife or husband loves you. Prove that your friends care about you, that they’re not just using you. Prove that your parents loved you. All relationship, whether with God or anyone else, stands on trust. Seeing is not believing.

Tennyson was again perceptive on our subject:

Nothing worthy proving can be proven,

Nor yet disproven; wherefore be thou wise,

Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.

So what do we do when we doubt our relationship with God? Not if, but when?

Get with God’s people (v. 24b)

Thomas wasn’t with the rest of the Twelve when the risen Lord first appeared to them. He missed the first Easter evening. My home church pastor once used that fact to point out the peril of missing church—you never know when Jesus will show up.

But to his credit, Thomas rejoined them soon after. And he was still with them the next Sunday evening when the resurrected Christ appeared to them again. To meet Jesus, he had to get with his people. We still do.

The church is quite literally the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.12), his physical presence on earth today. We are his hands, his feet. But to be healthy, each part of the body must function well. The foot needs the hand, and the eyes the ears (1 Corinthians 12.14-20). Every image for the church in the New Testament is a collective metaphor—a body with many parts, a vine with many branches (John 15.1-8). Christianity was never meant to be sung as a solo. We cannot play football alone. Nor can we follow Jesus by ourselves. We need each other.

And so the first step to dealing with doubts about the Lord is to get with his people. When we forsake the family, we forsake the Father. But when we get with his family, we draw closer to him. It was with the other disciples that Thomas met his Lord. It is the same for us.

I once read of a church member who dropped out of worship attendance. After several weeks, his pastor paid him a visit. The evening was cold. The pastor found the man at home, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him inside, led him to a big chair near the fireplace, and waited.

The pastor sat down but said nothing. In silence he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After many minutes had passed, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning coal, and placed it to one side of the fireplace all alone. He sat back in his chair, still silent.

His host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone coal’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since their initial greeting. Just before the pastor got ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire, where it immediately burst to life with the fire of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door, the man said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

A coal goes out alone; it stays aflame together with the other coals. So do we all.

The huge redwood trees of California are the largest living things on earth. Some are 300 feet tall and more than 2,500 years old. We would think such gigantic trees have a tremendous root system reaching hundreds of feet into the ground, but it’s not so. Their roots are very shallow. When our family visited the redwood forests two summers ago, I was amazed at how many of the roots run even along the ground surface.

Their secret is simple: redwood trees intertwine their roots with each other. They are locked together. Then when storms come, winds blow and lightning flashes, they stand together. They support and protect one another. One cannot fall, for the others hold it up. In the church it must be the same. We must hold each other up. Then when one struggles with faith, the others support and encourage. And we stand together.

Note that the disciples were as willing to stay with Thomas as he was willing to stay with them. They did not judge him for his doubts and skepticism. They did not reject him in his faith struggle. Nor does our Lord. In fact, he invites us: “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 1.18). “Reason together” translates the Hebrew for “argue it out.” God wants us to be honest about our doubts, to admit them to the family and our Father. He welcomes our genuine issues, always.

It’s been said that the church is the only army which buries its wounded. It ought not be so. Most of those who are public skeptics today were initially private doubters. But they felt rejected by the faithful, their questions unwelcome, their issues unwanted.

When we have doubts about our Lord, we must go to his people. We will find his help in theirs, his love in their compassion. When members of our class or congregation struggle spiritually, we must go to them. We must initiate compassion and acceptance. They will wonder if we care about them. We must prove that we do, lest their coal go out and our fire diminish.

So expect to have doubts. Get with the family of faith as you seek the Father.

Be honest about your questions (v. 25)

It has been well said: “Most of us believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs. It is better to doubt our doubts and believe our beliefs.” But we must first know what our doubts are. We must get them out, express them in words, and be honest about them.

Verse 25 begins, “The other disciples told him.…” The Greek literally says, “The other disciples kept telling him” (Tenney 195). They repeated their experience for their doubting friend: “We have seen the Lord!” Note that they used the very language in the plural which Mary Magdalene had earlier used in the singular: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20.18). But these men had refused to believe her then (Robertson 315), just as Thomas didn’t believe them now.

He was blunt: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe it” (v. 25b). Thomas knew the details of our Lord’s death. Perhaps he witnessed the crucifixion itself, or heard the details from John or another eyewitness. But it is as likely that he heard the other disciples’ report of their earlier encounter with the risen Christ (20.20), or was simply familiar with the process of crucifixion.

And so Thomas wanted nothing more than that which the other disciples had already witnessed: : “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20.19-20). He was no more a “doubting Thomas” than they were when they heard Mary’s witness. And she in turn doubted Jesus at first, thinking him to be the gardener (20.15). We all have our doubts.

This man wanted only to have first-hand experience with the risen Christ, the same encounter which had changed the lives of his friends. He was right—we must never accept second-hand faith. Because faith is relationship, it must be personal. Belief without experience is shallow and inadequate. We must each seek what Thomas wanted for himself.

Paul upbraided the immature Corinthian believers on this score. The apostle could only give them “milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it” (1 Corinthians 3.2). What is milk but digested food? The cow eats and digests what she eats so her calf can take the results. So many believers are living on digested spiritual food—God’s word through the pastor, the Sunday school teacher, or a commentary such as this one. Our souls need the food itself, the word of God from its Author. We need what Thomas wanted—first-hand experience and encounter with the risen Christ.

The believers in Berea are my favorite church in the book of Acts: “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17.11). With this result: “Many of the Jews believed, as did a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men” (v. 12).

James Sullivan is right: “We must admire Thomas for his honesty. He would not claim that he believed so long as there were lingering doubts” (Sullivan 132). Neither should we. Our Lord wants us to be honest with him about our doubts and issues. The only wrong doubt is the one we don’t admit.

One side note: Thomas’s incredulity is proof that the resurrection was no illusion created by wish-fulfillment (Tenney 195). Skeptics have often suggested that the disciples wanted Jesus to rise from the dead so much that they imagined it so. Thomas’ doubts lay their doubts to rest.

Encounter Jesus personally (vs. 26-29)

“A week later the disciples were in the house again” (v. 26a). The Greek says, “after eight days,” a Jewish idiom meaning Sunday to Sunday inclusive (Hovey 406), specifically the next Sunday evening (Robertson 315). The disciples had waited a week with Thomas. Remember that Jesus had instructed them to leave Jerusalem after his resurrection as soon as possible to meet him in Galilee (Matthew 28.7, 10; Mark 16.7). Why their wait? Perhaps so Thomas could come to faith as they had come to faith (Hovey 407). They would leave no person behind. Neither should we.

Now they were in the same house, behind the same locked doors as on Easter evening. But no man-made door can bar the One who is the way, truth, and life (John 14.6). The only lock which can prevent his entrance is on the human heart. And theirs were unlocked.

So “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!'” (v. 26b). He had promised them such peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14.27). He gave such peace the week earlier to those gathered together (John 20.19, 20). Now he came again, specifically to bring his peace to a single doubt-torn heart.

Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side” (v. 27a). Think how it must have startled Thomas to hear his very words repeated to him (Tenney 195). But Jesus knew his doubts, as he knows ours. Milne is right: “The ‘other world’ of the Spirit is not beyond earshot” (303), a fact which should give us pause with every word we speak.

Several years ago, Janet and I spent part of a vacation in Hawaii snorkeling. I was astounded by the dazzling beauty of the world just below the surface of the water. Fish of spectacular color and coral reefs forming all manner of unique shapes lived in a world of water only two feet from my world of air. The fish had no idea that our world even exists, much less that we can see theirs from ours. But we can.

Thomas needed physical evidence for the resurrection, so Jesus offered it: “Put your finger here.” His post-resurrection body was very real. The King James Version mistranslates John 20.17 to quote Jesus, “Touch me not.” The NIV is correct: “Do not hold onto me.” Jesus could walk through locked doors, a miracle impossible for normal physical bodies. And yet he could meet physical needs with his physical presence when necessary.

We must not criticize Thomas for needing such evidence, for the other disciples required it earlier: “‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he said to them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence” (Luke 24.38-43).

Such physical reality sustained the faith of Jesus’ first followers, and became part of their enduring witness: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1.1-2). Twenty centuries of faith has stood on the physical fact of Jesus’ resurrection, an event without which there is no faith to hold. In fact, without Easter “we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15.19).

On the factual basis of his resurrection our Lord could now say to his struggling disciple, “Stop doubting and believe.” The Greek is much more informative than the English: “stop becoming an unbeliever and become a believer” (Tenney 195; cf. Robertson 316). There is a word play in Jesus’ statement: stop “apistos” (“one without faith”) and “pistos” (“be one who believes”). This is the only time “apistos” and “pistos” appear in John’s Gospel (Carson 657), but not the only time they have lived in the same soul.

This man had been willing to die with Jesus before (John 11.16). He had been a believer. But Jesus’ death had started him on the road to unbelief. Most who walk away from God do so in stages. Pentecost had not yet come; the Spirit had not yet made any human into the permanent child of God (cf. Romans 8.9). So “Jesus halted Thomas on the road to a despairing unbelief and offered him the positive evidence he could build an enduring faith on” (Tenney 195).

With this result: “Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” (v. 28). “Said” shows that these words were not the vocative, so that the NIV is wrong with its exclamation mark. Rather, they were a simple and profound statement of faith: “You are my Lord and my God” (Beasley-Murray 385).

Note the personal commitment. Thomas did not call Jesus “the” Lord and God or even “our” Lord and God, but “my” Lord and “my” God. His words are literally, “The Lord of me and the God of me.” Martin Luther taught that the most important word of the 23rd Psalm is the little word, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

Thomas’s faith declaration was blasphemy for a Jew. He made Jesus not just the Messiah, or even the Son of God, but God himself (Tenney 195). In uttering these words, the doubting disciple made “the most powerful and complete confession of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel” (O’Day 850). The eminent Johannine scholar Raymond Brown calls this statement “the supreme christological pronouncement of the Fourth Gospel” (1047).

This is the only time in the Bible that we find this exact statement of faith; the closest is Psalm 35.23, “My God and my Lord” (Brown 1047). What is more, Thomas is the only person in all the gospel of John to call Jesus by the title “God” (Hobbs, Study Guide 93). As we will see, most scholars believe that John originally intended to end his gospel with the 20th chapter, so that Thomas’s words would have been the last words spoken by a disciple to Jesus in this gospel, and the highest faith statement in the entire book.

The great English preacher F. B. Meyer gave Thomas his due: “Ah, Thomas, in that glad outburst of thine, thou reached a higher level than all the rest; and thou art not the last man, who has seemed a hopeless and helpless wreck, unable to exercise the faith that seemed so natural to others; but who, after a time, under the teaching of Jesus, has been enabled to assume a position to which none of his associates could aspire!” (391).

Thomas’s declaration became basic to the first Christians’ faith commitment. Pliny the Younger, the Roman governor of the province of Bithynia for two or three years around A.D. 110, wrote several letters reporting his decisions to the emperor Trajan in Rome. In one of these letters he described what he had learned about the “Christians”:

“They were in the habit of meeting before dawn on a fixed day, when they would recite in turn a hymn to Christ as to a god, and would bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal act but rather that they would not commit any theft, robbery or adultery, nor betray any trust nor refuse to restore a deposit on demand. This done, they would disperse, and then they would meet again later to eat together (but the food was quite ordinary and harmless).”

Thomas was not the last to call Jesus his “God.” But he may have been the first.

When the inevitable doubts come, we must expect and admit them. We take them to our fellow believers, seeking the Father in his family. We pray, search the Scriptures, and search for the Lord. And he finds us.

What Jesus did for Thomas, he now waits to do for us: “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (v. 29). “You have believed” is in the perfect tense, showing an action which has begun and now continues (Hovey 408). Thomas now has the same present-tense faith we all need.

And the same faith we can each have. Those who “have not seen” can still believe. We can stand on the witness of those who saw and touched the Lord, and know that he will see and touch us. John wrote these words to include an entire generation which came to life after Jesus’ return to glory, including them in its promise.

Now we say with Paul, “We live by faith, not sight” (2 Corinthians 5.6-7). Peter could encourage his readers: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1.8-9).

When we trust Christ by faith we are “blessed.” This promise is the last beatitude to be found in the gospels (Howard 799), and one of only two in John’s gospel (cf. John 13.16-17; Carson 659). It promises joy which transcends all circumstances, for all who make Thomas’s “Lord and God” their own.

This man who sought the same first-hand experience we all need would spend the rest of his life giving it to us. He was with the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 1.13). After the Spirit filled his life and soul he became a missionary for his Lord. Reliable tradition teaches that Thomas eventually made his way to India, where he is still considered that church’s patron saint. St. Thomas Mount is named for him there. Legend suggests that Thomas worked as a carpenter for King Gundaphorus, where he built a “palace” for the king, not with wood but words. When the king wanted to see his mansion, Thomas assured him he would see it when he departed this life (Barclay 278).

One day “Doubting Thomas” would see his own: “The walls of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21.14). Of these Thomas was one. His name is on the foundation of the City of God today.

As it was for him, so it can be for any of us. Robert Robinson was an English clergyman of two centuries ago. In addition to his gifts as pastor and preacher, he was a wonderful poet and hymn writer. But after many years in the ministry, his faith and life began to drift. He left the ministry and traveled to France, where he sank further into sin and lost his assurance.

One night he was riding in a carriage with a Parisian socialite who had recently become a believer. She was reading some poetry to him and asked, “And what do you think of this one?” Then she read,

Come thou Fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing thy grace.

Streams of mercy never ceasing

Call for hymns of loudest praise.

When she looked at him, she saw that he was crying. “What do I think of it?” he asked in a broken voice. “I wrote it; but now I’ve drifted away from him and can’t find my way back.” “But don’t you see?” said the woman, “the way back is written right here in the third line of your poem: ‘Streams of mercy never ceasing.’ Those streams are flowing even here in Paris tonight.”

Robinson recommitted his life to Christ and regained his assurance of faith. Those streams of mercy now flow to you and to your class, this very week.

Share what you find (vs. 30-31)

The epilogue to our story is also epilogue to our study of miracles. It seems likely that John at first intended to close his gospel with these words, but then added the 21st chapter. We know John 21 to be written in the same style as the previous 20 chapters; no manuscript of John’s gospel exists without it (Bruce 867; Robertson 317). But John 21 builds on John 20, which ends with the apostle’s own enduring statement of faith and purpose.

John documented that “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book” (v. 30). Later he added, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21.25). But these “miraculous signs” were recorded for a purpose: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (v. 31).

“You may believe” is best translated “you may keep on believing” (Robertson 317). John’s readers were most likely already believers living in Asia Minor, so that this book was written to encourage and spread their faith (Hovey 409; Carson admits that most scholars agree, though he argues that the book was more intentionally evangelistic, 661).

When John’s readers continue to believe, they “continue to have life” (Robertson 317). We have our eternal life “in his name,” drawing on his account, claiming his merit and mercy. And all who ask, receive.

John’s purpose statement applies to each of the miracles we have studied across this series.

•Our Lord turned water into wine, proving that he always meets the needs we trust to his care.

•He healed a nobleman’s son, as he heals our hurts today.

•He cured the paralytic, as he cures our bodies and souls.

•He calmed the seas and the souls of his followers, as he still does.

•He opened a blind man’s eyes, as he opens our hearts.

•He raised Lazarus to life, as his Easter resurrection gives life to us all.

Each miracle was documented by John, Jesus’ best friend, to encourage us to be his friends and followers as well. None fulfills its purpose until we meet the One who works miracles still.

Now you and I stand before people in need of a miracle. They need to be healed physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They need to be loved and to love. They need to know that God cares when the world does not. In the hardest places of life, they need the miraculous presence only Jesus can give. He walked through locked doors to say to his frightened followers, “Peace be with you.” Now he waits to walk through the door of your heart to your class, to speak his peace to and through you this week.

This is the promise, and the miracle, of God.