“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.” (John 20:19 – 24)
I am trying to be mindful that the gospel of John might have been written a decade or two (or more) down the road from when this event happened. I can imagine the casual conversation when this event was talked about.
Disciple 1: “Remember the time when Jesus just showed up! Didn’t knock or open the door! Just poof! There he was!”
Disciple 2: “Yeah, yeah! We had the door locked because we were not sure what the non-believing Jews would do to us!”
Disciple 3: “Who all was there then? Was Thomas there?
Disciple 1: “ No, no. He was out taking care of something. I always felt badly that he did not receive that first blessing>”
Disciple 2: “Are you sure he wasn’t there? He always got excited when he talked about seeing Jesus wounds.”
I can imagine too the writer of the gospel of John taking note and trying to remember the sequence of events.
“So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (Verses 25 – 28)
It is a natural human impulse to want to be around when something significant happens. It is also quite natural to want to be far away when something awful happens. The tension between the feelings can result in inaccurate accounts being told, and false memories being created. And when such events are connected to faith issues and theology – the results can be heartbreaking. One hopes so strongly that at the points where the four gospel passages are in agreement, that it is an accurate report. And then of course, trying to make sense of the discrepancies.
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (Verses 29 – 31)
I am sure there are many people (including me, beloved reader) who would have liked to have been there when Jesus walked the earth. But then I remember that my belief is blessed because it came not from seeing and touching but being seen and touched by the Holy Presence. That my faith rests not in human senses but in Divine inspiration. And then, I am content.
May you, beloved reader, cherish your beliefs. And may the Holy Presence bless you with faith that has its sources from above. Shalom & Selah!