Sermon on John 20:19-23 | What Thomas Missed

Pews in a church

What Thomas Missed (John 20:19-23)

Many Christians don’t attend as faithfully as they should. Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services aren’t as important to many Christians as they ought to be. Scripture admonishes us not to neglect the gathering of the saints (Heb 10:25).

We often build elaborate excuses as to why we can’t worship faithfully.

Many claim that they are just so busy that they don’t have time to attend. J.C. Penney said, “If a man is too busy to worship God twice on Sundays and once through the week, he has more business than God ever intended.” God tells us “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). We need to take time to be sure that we honor God.

Many will say, “I just didn’t feel that good, so I stayed home.” There are gong to be times that we aren’t well enough to attend worship. But it amazes me how many are well enough to go to work the next morning.

Many have company, and they hate to leave company to come worship. Are those who visit us more important than God? There isn’t a reason in the world that your company shouldn’t be invited to worship with you.

Many want to do as little as possible to get into heaven. These people really want to go to heaven, and they honestly believe that God will be pleased with the little they do. Shouldn’t we be offering God our best?

This evening Jesus was raised from the dead, he visited his apostles (Jn 20:19-23). However, Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. This morning, we want to investigate this passage and see what Thomas missed. We miss the very same things when we are not in worship.

Thomas Missed Fellowship with the Apostles, v 19

On the first day of the week the disciples were gathered together.

The apostles had been through quite a bit when they gathered together. They had high hopes for the kingdom of God, but Jesus was murdered—their hopes were vanished. They were meeting in secret, because they feared the Jews might try to kill them.

the apostles were together, and they were, no doubt, drawing strength from one another. The apostles needed one another.

Fellowship is an important part of Christianity.

Fellowship was important in the early church. The early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). As we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another (1 Jn 1:7).

Fellowship does much for us as Christians.

Fellowship allows us to instruct one another (Rom 15:14).

The word translated “admonish” in the New King James Version can also be translated “instruct.” This means that as we come together we instruct one another.

We are to teach and admonish one another as we sing (Col 3:16). As we sing, we teach one another by the words of the song. If we are absent from the assembly, we miss the opportunity for our brethren to instruct us through song.

Fellowship allows us to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).

As we go through life, we have burdens which are sometimes hard to bear. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are to help us bear our burdens.

But we can’t bear one another’s burdens from a distance. Bearing burdens requires a level of intimacy. Such intimacy is not possible if we have no fellowship.

Fellowship allows us to comfort and edify (build up) one another (1 Thess 5:11).

If we miss worship, we miss a prime opportunity to be build up by our brethren. If we miss worship, we are failing in our obligation to comfort and edify our brethren.

Fellowship allows us to stir one another up to love and good works (Heb 10:24).

it is impossible for you to stir your brethren up to love and good works if you are absent when they meet. Your absence discourages rather than encourages.

Wea cannot live the Christian life in isolation. We need one another.

Thomas Missed Being with Jesus, vv 19-20

Jesus was with his disciples. He came and stood in their midst. He showed them the wounds from the crucifixion. The disciples rejoiced when they saw Jesus.

However, Thom was absent and missed the opportunity to be with Jesus.

If we miss worship, we miss an opportunity to be with Jesus. Jesus is present with us as we worship. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). The “you” Paul uses here is plural—i.e., the church in this passage is the temple of God. A temple is a dwelling place for God. As we come together, the Lord dwells among his people.

Jesus told the disciples he would not take of the fruit of the vine again until he did so with them in his Father’s kingdom (Matt 26:29). The kingdom is the church. As we take the Lord’s Supper, we have a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with Jesus.

Since Jesus is in our midst, we should be eager to worship. God himself comes into our assembly.

Thomas Missed Hearing the Message of Jesus, vv 21-23

Jesus came to his disciples and spoke with them. He gave them peace. He told them that he was sending them as the Father had sent him. He gave them the Holy Spirit and gave them the power to forgive sins.

Because Thomas was absent, he missed this message from Jesus.

If we miss worship today, we are missing the message from Jesus.

Everything the preacher says should be based upon Scripture. Paul told Timothy to “Preach the word!” (2 Tim 4:2). Those who speak in worship are to speak “as the oracles of God” (1 Pet 4:11). “Oracle” literally means “saying.” Moses received “living oracles” (Acts 7:38). An oracle of God is a saying from God; those who preach are to speak the very words of God. The message Jesus has given is an important one—The words he spoke will judge us in the last day (Jn 12:48). The Scripture makes us wise for salvation (2 Tim 3:15).

We need to hear the message of Jesus. Do you regularly hear the message of Jesus?

Thomas Missed the Gift of Peace, v 21

Jesus came and stood in the midst of his disciples. He announces his peace upon his disciples. He shows the disciples his hands and feet, and then the disciples rejoice because they have seen the Lord. Again, Jesus announces his peace upon the disciples.

Just what was this peace that Jesus gave his disciples? “Peace” was the typical Jewish greeting. Paul included “peace” along with “grace” in every epistle he wrote. Yet, here Jesus seems to do more than just greet the disciples.

Jesus promised to leave his disciples (Jn 14:27). “Peace” refers to the inner tranquility of those who trust in God. Although we may struggle in this life, we can have the inner tranquility that Jesus offers.

Because Thomas was absent when Jesus appeared, he did not receive Jesus’ blessing of peace.

When we are absent from the worship assembly, we miss the opportunity to receive peace from Christ. As we worship, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and the peace he offers.

Therefore, we do not have the same peace of mind as if we were present at worship. One reason we can’t have peace of mind if we’re absent from worship is that we know we should be here. James says, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Js 4:17). If you know you should be in worship but you aren’t, you’re sinning. Sin keeps us from having peace.


Thomas missed much when he was absent from the disciples.

If we are missing worship, we are missing much. Don’t miss worship. Do what God would have you do.

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.

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