19 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, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Jesus and Thomas
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
“My Lord and My God!”
Thomas was apprehensive. He had agreed to meet with The Twelve tonight, to have dinner with them. He had been avoiding them more or less, keeping to himself ever since Jesus had been tried and crucified. He remembered how Judas had betrayed Jesus, sold him to the enemy for thirty pieces of silver. He wasn’t sure who could be trusted any more. His lord had failed him, his friend had betrayed them.
He knew the tomb was empty. The whole town knew this. He wasn’t sure what had happened, but he knew the Pharisees were upset about it. Rumors were circulating that Jesus had risen from the dead. That he had appeared to the other disciples. The other disciples even claimed this when talking face to face with Thomas. They told him they had seen him. Had the world gone mad?
Thomas couldn’t believe it. It was bad enough that Jesus had been given up and had been crucified. There was every reason to believe that at any moment the authorities would start the mop up operation and get the others who were with Jesus, especially if these rumors persisted. Now his friends were telling him that Jesus had given them the ability to forgive sins in his name! Mere men! This couldn’t be. Hopefully they hadn’t let that bit be known to too many. He remembered how upset the Pharisees had gotten that day when Jesus had forgiven the sins of the paralytic. They were incensed that a man could claim to forgive sins. They had claimed only God could do that. But Jesus claimed he had the authority to do it, and then made the man walk to show it. This just enraged the hard hearted ones even more. And now his delirious friends were saying Jesus shared that authority with them. What would the Pharisees do with that?
What were his friends thinking? That they could forgive sins? That a ghost, a figment of their imagination, some hallucination had given them the ability to forgive sins? This was dangerous. And why should he believe them? He saw Jesus die. But the tomb was empty.
He couldn’t figure that out. No one in town could. Grave robbers would leave a body. And there was nothing of value on Jesus anyway. The authorities were all upset about it. Pilate had left a guard at the tomb, but they weren’t talking. The Pharisees were catching wind of the rumors of resurrection. This was upsetting them. It may upset them enough to go and grab all the disciples, and torture them to find out what had happened with this body, if they had stolen it and put it somewhere else. The Romans themselves were beginning to be concerned about the whole affair, worrying if this was going to cause some sort of unrest. Indeed they could see unrest cooking. It simmered between those who believed the rumors, and those who refused it. The Galilean twelve were being watched, their comings and goings being monitored. Thomas could feel eyes drilling his back wherever he went. Part of him wanted to disassociate altogether from the others. If Judas could betray Jesus, what was to stop one of them from betraying him?
But when Peter asked that he stay with them that night, he couldn’t refuse his good friend. He watched as they carefully locked all the doors. They were as afraid of the Pharisees as anyone. They too realized the threat of a mob. But now they were locked in, no way to run. If there was a mob, they would have to wait it out. Perhaps, the Romans would come and spare them. The Romans never liked a mob.
As they ate dinner the disciples told Thomas about the week before, when Jesus had appeared to them. Some of them even bickered about the details. Did Jesus show his scars? Some couldn’t remember that, others said they saw the nail holes in his hands. But they were all agreed that it was Jesus, and that he wasn’t a ghost. But then how did he appear in the locked room if he wasn’t a ghost? What happened to the body if he was a ghost? If he was just a ghost wouldn’t the body still be dead in the grave? Of course it wasn’t a ghost. This was Jesus who forgave sins and made the blind to see, the lame to walk, who even raised others from the dead! Why should it be so hard to believe he himself had also risen from the dead? Herod had thought he was John the Baptist who had risen from the dead, was it only half brained heathen that could have such faith in God that he could raise prophets from the dead?
Still this was dangerous and Thomas wasn’t sure he wanted to sign on to a resurrection theory if it meant an untimely death, not if he didn’t witness for himself, not if he didn’t get to see the nail holes, and put his hand where his lord had been stabbed by the spear, right through all his viscera and piercing his heart. Only then would he believe this was Jesus, only then would he entrust his life to this rumor of resurrection.
But then he heard a familiar voice, “Peace be with you” he looked up and saw that it was Jesus, his Lord, addressing him.
“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
Thomas did as he bid, poked his finger into warm flesh pulsing with blood, full of life. And fell to his knees. “My Lord and My God!”
Yes, this was his Lord, this was his God. He would follow him, entrust his life to him who had risen from the dead, knowing now that whatever may happen, his life could belong to no one but him who had power over death.