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of pardon, and the terms of church fellowship. At the same time, Luke informs us, "that he opened their understandings to understand the scriptures." which is but another form of the power of doctrine, the ability to declare with authority, as inspired men the will of God for our salvation.
Such were some of the blessings linked with the Lord's day; blessings, all of which, in some form, are still connected with it, as the day of worship, the day of rest, and the day of instruction.
Ill: Thomas absent.
Why he was absent, we are not told. Perhaps he was sick, or engaged in some work of mercy; perhaps he thought this meeting for prayer useless, or uninteresting, that he could pray at home, or learn more there than he could at the meeting; perhaps he disliked night meetings; or perhaps he lived at some distance from the place of meeting; the night might have been cloudy, threatening rain, or the streets muddy and dark. Such reasons are very widely operative now, and might have been then.
But whatever was the reason, the fact is not stated to his honour. The implication is that his absence was caused by his unbelief, and that thus his unbelief continued. He missed the meeting with Jesus, and the peace, faith, hope, and joy that were connected with it. He remained in darkness for another week, and doubtless in sorrow, for unbelief is but another name for unhappiness.
And is it not so still? Do not the missing disciples at the meeting for prayer often miss precious visits of Jesus? Is not the cause of absence also often the same? Is it not at last unbelief? Is it not that we do not believe in the value of these ordinances, or have no heart to attend them?
Let us then beware of such a record about us in the books, as we have here about Thomas, that "he was not with them when Jesus came." Let us be with the friends of Jesus now, in work and in worship, lest when he comes again, in that last, great day of his coming, the world's great evening and end, it may also be recorded of us, that when he gathers his saints together there, we are not with them, but cast out into the outer darkness. Let Jesus, when he visits his people met for prayer, find us among them.
THE SIXTH APPEARANCE.—THE SCEPTICAL DISCIPLE.
The second Lord's day—The dark disciple. I. The causes of the scepticism of Thomas. (1) The original structure of his nature— Living in the shadow—(2) A wrong standard of belief.—The credulity of unbelief—(3) Absence from the meeting of the disciples—God honours his appointed means. II. The consequence of his unbelief. Wretchedness of soul—The sceptic wretched whether right or wrong. III. The removal of his scepticism. (1.) The awakening of his faith by a sight of Christ—(2) The confession of his faith—Did he blaspheme ?—(3) The personal character of his faith—(i) The benediction of Jesus—Goethe.
I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Come unto me and rest;
Thy head upon my breast.
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary, and worn, and sad,
And he has made me glad.
"And after eight days, again his disciples were within and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith be to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John xx. 26-29.
This meeting was a second observance of the Christian Sabbath. It was the evening of the Lord's day, i. e. after the eighth day, the day after the Sabbath, which was the seventh day; and as the day, by our mode of reckoning, ended at sunset, the evening of the first day of the week wag really after the eighth day had ended, and hence the phrase, "an eight days," for a week, naturally took its rise. There seems to have been no appearance of our Lord during the intervening week. Where he was, and what his employments, we need not conjecture, though this silence suggests a corroboration of the views formerly presented in regard to the physical properties of his risen body.
It would seem that Thomas, in the hasty conclusion to which he plunged after the crucifixion, that all was lost, had retired to some retreat, from which he did not emerge until after the first Lord's day. When he heard an account of its events, he rejected the whole thing as incredible. He assured the disciples that they had been cheated by an optical illusion. Had they tested the reality of Christ's body by the sense of touch, they would have discovered their error. As for him, he will not believe, unless he has this evidence, unless he can touch the marks made by the crucifixion, and thus prove, beyond contradiction, that it is the identical body that was crucified. This scepticism might have been removed during any other day of the week, but it was not done until the Lord's day, doubtless in order again to put honour and authority upon the Christian Sabbath. That hallowed day was again to be distinguished by the cure of a sceptical disciple, in the establishment of the great fundamental fact of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus. Hence we reach the special significance of this appearance, and the reason why it was postponed for a week, so as to fall on the Lord's day evening, the only time of the day when the disciples could meet in safety for worship. We have here then, I. The causes of the scepticism of Thomas. II. Its consequences. III. Its removal.
I. The causes of the scepticism of Thomas.
1. The original structure of his nature. Thomas seems to have been, naturally, a man of gloomy and saturnine spirit, prone to look on the dark side of everything, and live in the shade. There was little in him of the bright, sunny, and hopeful, and hence he was not so ready to believe good news as bad.
This frigidity of temperament made him sceptical, and by a singular phenomenon of mind, though slow in coming to favourable, he was hasty in coming to unfavourable conclusions. This is illustrated in the only other intimation we have of him in the gospel. When our Lord stated (John xi. 15) that he intended to go into Judea, on the