As we continue our study of this Forth Gospel, we are looking at the post resurrection appearances of Yeshua. All Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us an account of the resurrection, and the post resurrection appearances of Christ, which give us multiple evidences of its reality.
In the first message preached in the church, Peter preached the resurrection:
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Yeshua of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Yeshua, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24 ESV
Later in this sermon Peter says:
This Yeshua God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Acts 2:32 ESV
Peter is saying, "We all saw Him! He's alive!" And the remarkable thing is that not one voice is lifted in protest in this whole crowd of people. To me, one of the greatest proofs of the resurrection of Yeshua is right here, that this man could stand up in the city where these events had taken place, a little more than a month earlier, and tell these people that Yeshua had risen from the dead, and not one voice challenges him! They knew that Yeshua's body was not there. They could go out to the tomb and see that it was empty. They knew that the authorities could not produce the body of Yeshua, though they would have given a king's ransom to have done so. They had heard all the wild rumors that spread through the city that Yeshua was alive and that He was appearing to His own disciples from time to time. And there is not one voice who challenges what the apostle says. Instead they stand there in mute and stricken silence.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the resurrection of our Lord Yeshua. This is the main theme of Peter's sermon. It is the main theme of nearly every sermon preached in the Book of Acts. After spending one verse each on Yeshua's life and death, Peter spends nine verses on His resurrection, which is the main theme of the apostolic preaching in Acts.
The resurrection is absolutely critical to Christianity. It means that God was satisfied with the sacrifice for sin that Christ offered. It means that He conquered death, not only for Himself, but for all of us who put our faith in Him.
In our last study we saw that Yeshua's first post resurrection appearance was to Mary, Lazarus' sister. She is at the empty tomb weeping and the angels and Yeshua ask her, Why are you weeping? She was weeping because she didn't believe what the Tanakh and Yeshua had taught her about the resurrection. So the question, "Why are you weeping?" Is meant to mean, why are you weeping about an empty tomb? That should be a cause for rejoicing not weeping. Then Yeshua calls her name and she realizes that it is Him, and she goes from depression to excitement. Yeshua tells her to go tell the others that He is ascending to the Father. We ended last week with:
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her. John 20:18 ESV
So, Mary went and told the others, "I have seen the Lord." John doesn't give us all the details that Luke does so let's look at Luke's account of the post resurrection appearances of our Lord. The women go to the tomb early and find it empty, the stone is rolled away, the grave clothes are lying there. They also see two angels who tell them, "He is not here, but has risen."
and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. Luke 24:9-11 ESV
These are all women that they know, they were all disciples of Yeshua. But their words, "seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them." A little later that day two of the disciples of Yeshua were on their way to the town of Emmaus. They were talking to each other when, "Yeshua Himself drew near and went with them." They are talking to the risen Christ, but they don't know it. They are broken hearted over Yeshua's death, and then He says to them:
And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Luke 24:25-26 ESV
He is saying to them, Don't you guys know the Scripture? Then after teaching them what the Scriptures say, He opened their eyes, and they realize they are talking to the risen Christ. Luke goes on to say,
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:33-35 ESV
So how do they respond to another eye witness account? Even after being told by five different people, who they knew, that they had seen the risen Christ they still didn't believe it. Then the Lord shows up:
As they were talking about these things, Yeshua himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. Luke 24:36-37 ESV
Even after being told by five different people that He was alive, when He shows up they are terrified and think He's a spirit. It's obvious that none of the disciples understood Yeshua's repeated disclosures that He was going to be killed in Jerusalem and rise again the third day. They pictured a conquering and reigning Messiah, not a suffering and dying one. So, despite the teaching of the Tanakh and Yeshua Himself that the Messiah would rise from the dead, they just didn't get it.
The Feasts of Yahweh taught that Messiah would die on Passover and be raised three days later on the feasts of First Fruits. They watched Him die on Passover, and on First Fruits the tomb was empty, but they just didn't get it. An eye witness comes and tells them that they had seen the risen Lord, and they would not believe it. And as we look at our text in John, we see them in fear behind locked doors:
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Yeshua came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." John 20:19 ESV
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week"—it's Sunday afternoon, the "evening" is toward the close of the day. The time is probably about 3PM, the time of the third hour of prayer. So, the first appearance of Yeshua to the disciples took place on the evening of the same day that He appeared to Mary Magdalene, the first day of the week, Sunday, which was the Feast of First fruits.
The first-generation believers continued to meet on the Sabbath at the local synagogues and at the Temple on set feast days. However, the rabbis instituted a "curse oath" that required synagogue members to reject Yeshua as the Messiah after AD 70. At this point they dropped the Sabbath services, but continued to meet with other believers on Sunday, the resurrection day, to commemorate Yeshua's resurrection.
The text doesn't tell us where they were meeting, but it would be my guess that they are back in the upper room, the last place where they had spent the evening in fellowship with the Lord. Maybe remembering that wonderful evening and grieving over the loss of their Lord. The text also doesn't tell us who all is there, but Luke tells us it was more than just the eleven.
"The doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews"—Why are the disciples afraid? Thy must have been afraid that the Jewish leaders would come after them next. I would say that they were probably afraid of the Roman soldiers also. They are afraid because their leader had just been crucified for sedition, which, as His followers, they would have been conficted. And now, the story was circulating that they had stolen the body of Yeshua:
And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, "Tell people, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Matthew 28:12-15 ESV
Remember that the tomb was sealed by Rome, and breaking that seal for any reason was punishable by death. They may have feared that if Rome got word that they had stolen the body they would be hunted down.
"Yeshua came and stood among them"—in some miraculous way, Yeshua enters the room, even though the door is locked. Was Yeshua's resurrected body different, was it a glorified spiritual body? Many say that it was. But I propose that the body of Yeshua that came out of the tomb was the same body that went into the tomb. Now someone who knows their Bible may say, "Well Mark says that Yeshua's body was different after the resurrection:"
But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. Mark 16:11-12 ESV
Because of verses like this many have assumed that Yeshua's resurrection body was different. But notice what Mark writes in:
And after six days Yeshua took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, Mark 9:2 ESV
That word "transfigured" comes from a Greek word from which we get our English word "metamorphosis"—to be changed into something else. The Greek word is a compound word from "morphe" meaning: "form" and "meta," which implies: "change." Very simply, therefore, the underlying meaning of the word has to be: "to change form." So at the transfiguration Yeshua appeared to them in "another form" and remember, this is before the resurrection.
Now you might also be thinking, "Well, Yeshua walked through walls after His resurrection." Did He really? Many would use our text in John 20:19 to prove that He walked through walls. But notice that the text does not say He "walked through walls." It simply says, "Yeshua came and stood among." Does that imply a different body? No, look at:
When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:28-30 ESV
What filled them with wrath? Do you know the context of these verses? Out of the many widows and lepers, God chooses to bless two Gentiles—this made the Jews very angry.
The crowd has Yeshua cornered on a cliff! And He "passes through their midst." How did He do that? He did things like this before He was raised from the dead.
Notice what Luke writes of Yeshua after His resurrection:
And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Luke 24:38-39 ESV
Obviously, the scars from the Cross were visible, and Yeshua said He was flesh and bone, not a Spirit:
And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:40-43 ESV
Here we see Yeshua eating fish. Will glorified spirit bodies be hungry, have a digestive process? It sounds to me like a regular human body:
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." John 20:27 ESV
Here again we see that Yeshua had the same nail holes in His hands and feet, and the same spear hole in His side, just like He did before His resurrection. Haven't we all heard that our glorified bodies will be perfect? Yeshua's wasn't, because it wasn't a glorified body; it was His SAME body. We could say that Yeshua's physical resurrection looked nothing different from Lazarus' physical resurrection.
So Yeshua appears in their midst and says, "Peace be with you"—this is a common greeting, in Hebrew it would be, "shalom 'alekem" (peace be upon you). The phrase spoken here by the resurrected Yeshua to the disciples must surely have been intended to reassure and calm them. You can imagine how startling it would be to have the risen Lord suddenly appear in a locked room where you were already afraid!
Yeshua was imparting "peace," rather than just wishing peace on them. I see this as similar to what Paul said of believers in:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Christ. Romans 5:1 ESV
What does peace with God mean? It means the war is over, it means that God is no longer our enemy, no longer promising judgment and death. Yeshua is telling them that because of His death and resurrection they now have peace with God.
How many of you have ever heard these words, "Peace be with you," at a Catholic Church? The Catholic Church says, these are the very words (peace be with you) the Priest uses, as he stands in "persona Christi," (in the Person of Christ) as he greets the congregation. Believers, the Catholic Church cannot give peace with God, only faith in Christ can do that.
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. John 20:20 ESV
To show them His wounds dispels any impression that they are seeing a ghost or imposter. They are truly seeing the risen body of Yeshua Himself. Were His wounds, now healed, were they just scars, or were they the fresh wounds of a crucifixion that happened three days ago?Both the Greek and Hebrew words for "hand" includes the wrist as part of the hand.
"The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord"—this is a fulfillment of Yeshua's words to the disciples in the Last Discourse:
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:22 ESV
The word "rejoice" here and "glad" in our verse are the same Greek word, chairo, which means, to be cheerful, happy or glad, to have joy. They were glad because they "saw" the Lord. The word "saw" here is from the Greek horao, which is the same word used in verse 8 where it says that Lazarus, "saw and believed"—it means, to discern clearly (physically or mentally); by Hebraism: "to experience." So now we see that the rest of the disciples came to believe.
Yeshua said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." John 20:21 ESV
In using this greeting again Yeshua is reassuring the apostles, who must have been feeling ashamed of their conduct after His arrest, that He has lovingly reestablished the intimacy they had previously enjoyed with Him.
"As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you"—the words for "sent" and "sending" are two different words in the Greek language. The first word "sent" is from the Greek word apostello, which refers to one who is sent as an authoritative representative. This is the word that is used in both instances in John 17:
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. John 17:18 ESV
In our text apostello is a reference to our Lord being the solitary representative of the Godhead to humanity, having been sent to affect our redemption by the sacrifice of His own life before the judgment of God. The second word, "send" (pempo), indicates one being sent to participate in the work of another.
The Father had "sent" the Son "into the world" with a mission (10:36). John 3:17 indicates that God sent the Son into the world in order that the world be saved. Yeshua sends the disciples into the world for the same purpose—though the salvation of the world will be accomplished by the proclamation of the saving work of Christ, not by the work of the disciples. Yeshua is setting them apart for the work He has called them to do. They are, in a sense, being commissioned. There is nothing in the context to suggest that we should limit the words of the commission only to the Twelve. Believer, all believers are called to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
I don't think that this is solely a call to share the Gospel. As we have seen over and over in this Gospel, Yeshua came to reveal the Father:
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. John 1:18 ESV
All Yeshua said and did was to reveal the Father.
Yeshua said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? John 14:9 ESV
The emphasis of John 14:7-11 is pretty clear. Six times Yeshua says virtually the same thing, that He and the Father are so profoundly One, that His presence is the presence of God the Father:
Verse 7a: "If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also."
Verse 7b: "From now on you do know Him and have seen Him."
Verse 9a: Philip asks to see the Father, and Yeshua says, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip?"
Verse 9b: "Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father."
Verse 10a "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?"
Verse 11a: "I am in the Father and the Father is in Me."
This is what I have been saying since the beginning of this study in John, Yeshua is Yahweh. Yahweh is revealed in Christ. He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In Him is the very wisdom and truth of God personified. So, everything He ever said was to reveal the Father—to reveal Yahweh.
"As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you"—who is the Lord talking to here? This is addressed to His first century disciples. Does it apply to us? Are we sent to proclaim the Gospel and reveal the Father? Yes, I believe we are. The most fundamental reality of human existence is that we're made by God in His own image to be His representatives in His created world. The image is not an ability we have, but a status. God intends us to be His representatives on earth. So practically what does this look like? As Christians, as children of the heavenly Father, we have a duty to imitate Christ, if He is compassionate, we as His image bearers, are to be compassionate, If He is loving, we are to be loving. We are to display Him in all we say and do. We are all sent to bear His image.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 ESV
This is a controversial verse. What is happening here? Is Yeshua giving them the Holy Spirit? It sounds like it, but notice what Yeshua said earlier:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7 ESV
He did not intend to send the Spirit until after His ascension. In other words, the Holy Spirit would not come until Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit is prophesied in the Tanakh as taking place on the Feast of Pentecost, which was fifty days away.
In A Theology of the New Testament, George Ladd summarizes the possible interpretations of this passage:
"This passage raises difficulties in the light of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, which may be solved in one of three ways. Either John did not know about Pentecost and substitutes this story so that it becomes in effect the Johannine Pentecost (this is the most frequently espoused view today); or there were actually two gifts of the Spirit; or Jesus' breathing on the disciples was an acted parable promissory and anticipatory to the actual coming of the Spirit at Pentecost" (p. 289).
The third view makes the most sense to me in light of the context. Notice what Yeshua tells the disciples later:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8 ESV
The subsequent behavior of the disciples hardly suggests the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Down in verse 26 of our text, they were still fearful, they were still hiding. John does not report anything out of the ordinary happening as a result of our Lord's actions. The disciples are not transformed, as they will be at Pentecost. The Gospel is not preached. In fact, the next thing to happen in John's Gospel is that some of the disciples go fishing.
It seems to me, therefore, that these verses are not about the Spirit's indwelling of believers. I believe Yeshua is symbolically bestowing the Spirit upon His disciples, although it will not actually take place until Pentecost.
The text does not say, "he breathed on them" but simply "he breathed" or, perhaps, "he exhaled" the verse should be translated, "And with that, he breathed, and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld." John 20:23 ESV
Do we, or did they, have the power to forgive peoples' sins? The Roman Catholic Church uses this verse to support their teaching that ordained priests have the authority to forgive or retain the sins of people contingent on private confession and penance.
The Catholic Church teaches that it is necessary to bring those venial sins (unintentional sins) before the Lord in the Penitential Rite of the Mass in order to receive forgiveness, and any mortal sins must be confessed to an ordained priest of the New Covenant Church, who is a successor of the first ministerial priesthood in Christ, to whom we confess as though we are confessing to Christ Himself.
This text does not justify some priestly hierarchy, who hears confessions and grants absolution from one's sins. There is no example in the Bible of the apostles forgiving or retaining the sins of anyone. The New Testament is clear that there is no distinction between ordained clergy and laity. The Scriptures are clear that only God can forgive sins. When the paralytic was brought in the presence of the Lord Yeshua, and He said to this individual, "Your sins are forgiven you." The Jewish leaders said, "Only God forgives sins." That was right, but the "power" of proclaiming this forgiveness was entrusted to the disciples. This is consistent with the idea that the disciples are to carry on the ministry of Yeshua after He has departed from the world and returned to the Father.
"They are forgiven them… it is withheld"—the second part of each conditional clause in this verse is in the passive voice, and the perfect tense in the Greek text. The passive voice indicates that someone has already done the forgiving or retaining. That person must be God, since He alone has the authority to do that (Matt. 9:2-3; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). The perfect tense indicates that the action has continuing effects; the sins stand forgiven or retained. Believers have the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19) if they will only use them.
If people believed the Gospel, the disciples were given the authority to tell these new believers that God had forgiven their sins. If they disbelieved, they could tell them that God had not forgiven, but retained their sins. Notice what Peter says:
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:42-43 ESV
So, if you believe in the Lord Yeshua, then I can say to you, "Your sins are forgiven." If you reject the Lord Yeshua, I can say to you, "You're still in your sins, your sins are retained." We do not confer forgiveness; we only recognize what God has done. And the terms and conditions of it are set down in the word of God.
Scriptures tell us that we are all sinners before God, and we need the forgiveness of sins. The Scriptures say that Yeshua the Christ has died for sins, has rendered an atonement to God that is sufficient for the sins of men. And the Scriptures say that if you will stop trusting on the other things, your church, your good works, your education, your culture, or whatever it may be, and trust totally and completely upon what Christ had done in the merits of His death, then you can be assured of the forgiveness of sins. It's all about trusting Christ:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
"Unless you believe that I AM," means that unless you believe that Yeshua is Yahweh in the flesh, you will die in your sins.
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Yeshua came. John 20:24 ESV
John is the only evangelist who recorded this post-resurrection appearance. Thomas' confession is John's climactic argument for belief in Yeshua as the divine Messiah, the Christ.
What do you think of when you hear Thomas' name? We think, doubting Thomas. But that isn't fair. First of all, John's previous pictures of this disciple present him as a loyal and courageous follower of Yeshua. Let's remember that the other disciples did not believe until they saw, either. Thomas is really demanding to see the same things that convinced the others. He is not asking for anything more than what the others saw.
Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers. He had faithfully carried the Gospel to what was then the end of the earth!
So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." John 20:25 ESV
The Greek text clarifies that the other disciples "kept saying" that Yeshua was alive. In spite of this repeated verbal testimony by those who knew Him best, Thomas refused to believe. Just as the rest of them had.
"Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe"—this is the only place in the New Testament where we learn that "nails" pierced Yeshua's hands and feet (cf. Ps. 22:16).
The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says, "Romans most often tied persons to crosses with rope, but sometimes nailed them, as a sadistic (but often death-hastening) variation on the execution. Unless the person were also tied to the cross, a person could not be simply nailed to it through the palm of the hand, as this would not support his weight (the hand would simply tear open). The Greek term translated "hands" does allow for the nails to be in the forearms."
It was not just that Thomas disbelieved the resurrection. What he doubted, what he disbelieved, was everything that Yeshua had claimed. In his mind death had invalidated all that Yeshua had said about Himself. Death had proved Him a liar and a fraud. Death had proved Him a blasphemer. Just a man, claiming for Himself the power and authority and honor of God. Only a real resurrection could turn that around and authenticate everything Yeshua had said.
Before you're too hard on Thomas, let me ask you, "Have you ever doubted things in the word of God?" We know that the Scriptures say that "all things work together for good to those who love God" but have you ever questioned that? We all fall into doubt at times, and seeing how Yeshua dealt with Thomas' doubt is encouraging.
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Yeshua came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." John 20:26 ESV
"Eight days"—evidently included both Sundays. Perhaps he identified the day because, by the time he wrote, Sunday had become the day of worship for Christians.
The setting is identical with the previous incident a week earlier (20:19), and Lazarus makes a point of repeating the same statement about the doors being locked when Yeshua came and stood among them and said, "Peace to you." The only difference was that this time Thomas was present.
"The doors were locked, Yeshua came and stood among them"—the disciples were still meeting behind closed locked doors because they feared the Jewish authorities. Doesn't sound like they had received "power."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." John 20:27 ESV
Yeshua knew what Thomas had said, even though He had not been physically present when Thomas had said it. This is a further implication of Yeshua's deity. We do not know whether Thomas actually pressed his fingers into our Lord's nail-pierced hands or not. Since John does not tell us that.
Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:28 ESV
Thomas professes to believe in what the resurrection proved—that Yeshua was God, and that He was Lord. The literal translation is "the Lord of me and the God of me." Thomas' profession of faith is one of the strongest statements affirming the deity of Yeshua in the Scripture!
Think about this, who is Thomas? He is a Jew, and for a Jew to call another human being "My Lord and my God" was blasphemy under normal circumstances (cf. 10:33). Yet that is precisely who Thomas believed Yeshua was. It is also who John presented Yeshua as being throughout this Gospel. Both titles were titles of deity in the Tanakh.
John 1:1 had declared the Word not only to be with God, but also to be God. As we come near the end of the Gospel, the same affirmation of the deity of Christ appears when Thomas says, "My Lord and my God," and we have come full circle from 1:1, where Lazarus had introduced the reader to who Yeshua was, to 20:28, where the last of the disciples has come to the full realization of who Yeshua was. What Yeshua had predicted in 8:28 had come to pass:
So Yeshua said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. John 8:28 ESV
By being lifted up in crucifixion (which led in turn to death, resurrection, and exaltation with the Father) Yeshua has revealed His true identity as both LORD (used by the LXX to translate Yahweh) and GOD (used by the LXX to translate elohim).
Thomas' confession is the climactic exemplification of what it means to honor the Son as the Father is honored (5:23). Thomas's reaction is precisely the reaction that Lazarus wants from all those who read his Gospel, that we would believe that Yeshua is Yahweh.
Yeshua said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 ESV
"Yeshua said to him"— "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." NO, Yeshua didn't say that. Lazarus said that to an angel. Yeshua accepted Thomas' confession because He is God.
"Have you believed because you have seen me?—this could be translated as either a question or as a statement. It confirmed the reality of Thomas' belief in either case.
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"—who is this referring to? Yeshua is speaking of a time when He will not provide the kind of tangible evidence given to Thomas; He will shortly ascend to His Father permanently, and all those who believe will do so without the benefit of having seen their resurrected Lord. This is us! We have never seen the risen Christ, but we believe. Peter seems to take up this same thought in his First Epistle:
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV
Believers, we are blessed. We cannot share Thomas' experience of sight, but because we read of Yeshua's words and works, we can come to share Thomas' faith. For us, faith comes not by sight, but from what is heard (or read!), and what is heard comes by the word of Christ:
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. Romans 10:17 CSB
Oh look, another reason to spend time in the Word of God. It will increase our faith.
Thomas' declaration is the last assertion of personal faith recorded in this Gospel. It marks the climax of the book, because it presents Christ as the risen Lord, victorious over sin and death.