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Gospel according to John 20: 24-31 (NIV)
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The last verse of John 20 presents the reason why this disciple recorded in writing his personal experiences of being with Jesus. His immediate purpose was that the reader “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,” however this begs a “why?”. Believing that Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah and continuing to behave as if gaining personal pleasure is life’s objective plays right into the hands of Satan. Satan knew Jesus’ true identity – and did all he could to impede him!
That is why John added a purpose for believing “that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” The ultimate goal in believing is to “have life in his name.”
“Life in his name,” – what does that mean?
Jesus himself is the “life” as he proclaimed in the sixth of his “I am” statements: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14: 6).
John had perceived that this life was to be the light of the world: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all (humankind)” (John 1: 4).
The “life” Jesus offers to those who believe and put their full trust in him is a full and a complete life. He said so himself, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10: 10b).
This life extends beyond death to life eternal with him: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16).
John’s statement of purpose in verse 31 has immediate relevance to all of us who, unlike Thomas (together with the other Apostles), have not have the benefit of seeing Jesus in the flesh. Thomas believed because he had seen Jesus. Those who rely on the accounts of eye witnesses like John and the other evangelists are, said Jesus, blessed in believing and then in acting on that belief by putting their full trust in the risen Lord.