“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.” (John 20:19 – 23)
As I am sitting here, trying to think what to say/write, I must be honest beloved reader. Scripture passages from days and years past during the Easter season merge and mingle in my mind. What did I say, and when did I say it? And which gospel passage did I say it about? I imagine for the disciples also, it was a confusing day.
If you remember, according to the gospel of John, Jesus has only been discovered missing from the tomb that morning. And Mary had brought news that she had met Jesus in the garden where the tomb was. Nothing was confirmed and sure. Maybe for the disciples, as it is for me, the short term goal was to get through each day. The day of his death was imaginable hard, and not being able to prepare him properly for the tomb was a hard burden to bear. Then waiting through Sabbath before their final act of mourning grief was cut short with this news. And what to do with the report that Mary gave? So with Jesus gone, they met together to plan and strategize what they should do next. Then, all of a sudden Jesus shows up! And lays upon them the obligation of leading the other believers?!
“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 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 24 – 28)
Just as Mary passed the unbelievable (now believable) news to the disciples, so the disciples told Thomas. Maybe the other disciples did not believe Mary at first. Thomas might have voiced his doubts, but maybe the other disciples doubted too until the proof appeared to them. When we are setting short term goals, we often do not look much further than the first few steps. But with Jesus with them once more, hopes for the future seemed more possible.
“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)
Where there is life, there is hope. And when there is hope, goals can be set. And when goals are met, there is joy and a feeling of accomplishment. There are many things we can accomplish, beloved reader, when the Divine is by our side. Shalom & Selah!