Sermon Preparation -
April 11, 1999

John 20:19-31

The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.

After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me." Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don't forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven."

Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"

A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!"

Thomas replied, "You are my Lord and my God!"

Jesus said, "Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!"

Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life.


1. Being locked in has many literal and figurative meanings. Probably as many as there are people. Do you see others as "locked in"? Do you see that in yourself? How would you describe your being "locked in"? What will it take to make you happy enough to become "unlocked"?

2. Do you remember the last time you felt someone was telling you a tale beyond belief? Was it a tale that you were glad you weren't a part of? Was it a tale that made you envious? What is this deal about human beings and proof or authority which keeps us from living in faith but only living is surity?

3. Can you be sure about something and still not be right? Can you be correct, but not sure? How would you write the tale of your life to help someone else have faith similar to yours? Is there a key event in your life that led you to say, "My Lord and my God!"

NOTE: A wonderful new translation in "The Message" by Eugene Peterson has this to say:

[Jesus] took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"

What will you do with the sins you don't forgive, the sins that are not gone for good but continue to hang around?

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