Appearance Before Eleven Apostles: A Chronological Harmony

Appearance Before Eleven Apostles

Allaying Thomas’ Doubts (Mark 16:14; John 20:26-29)

            Eight days later, which would be the following Sunday, the disciples again were in a room with the doors closed. This time Thomas was with them. It is a shame that most people remember Thomas because he did not believe the report of his fellow disciples. It is not that Thomas was without faith. It was Thomas, who when seeing that Jesus was determined to return to Judea where people were looking to kill him, told his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). He might not have understood everything, but he did not lack courage. We forget that only John actually believed Jesus was alive before seeing him (John 20:8). The rest of the disciples did not believe until they saw him and saw the scars from his crucifixion. Thomas’ continued doubts were no different than the other disciples.

            But Thomas’ doubts of the witness of the other disciples is important in confirming that the disciples did not invent a story to push upon the world. Thomas demanded solid evidence, the same evidence that the other disciples claimed to have received, before he would accept their story.

            The appearance of Jesus was just like before. He came into a room, but not through the closed doors. Again he greats them with a message of peace. And he offers Thomas the same evidence that was given to the other disciples earlier, challenging him with nearly the same words Thomas spoke earlier. What is interesting is that Thomas goes further with the evidence than the other disciples. They rejoiced to see Jesus alive. Thomas declared him to be his ruler and his God. That he wasn’t rebuked for his declaration is another evidence that Jesus was God in human flesh.

            Jesus, however, does gently reproves Thomas for denying the prior evidence and demanding that only direct evidence would satisfy him. Jesus declares a blessing on those who believe even when they do not have direct evidence for themselves (I Peter 1:8-9; II Corinthians 5:7).

            Why did Jesus wait so long before appearing to the disciples again and allaying Thomas’ doubts? Likely it was to test their faith. Despite his own disbelief in the disciples’ reports, Thomas still gathered with them. He and they had not yet given up (James 1:2-4).

Others Miracles (John 20:30-31)

            Thomas’ confession becomes the climax of the book of John, which began with the declaration that the Word was God. The book of John was written that we as its reader might have faith that leads to eternal life (John 5:24). There were numerous other miracles that John could have mentioned and recorded, but he selected these few to prove to us that Jesus is the Son of God (Hebrews 2:3-4).