The Risen Christ Second Sunday of Easter: John 20:19-31
19 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then stretch out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!” 30 In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are
not written down in this book. 31 But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.
Other readings: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 118:2-4, 15-18, 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6
John provides us with a description of the risen Christ’s appearance to his disciples. Many such accounts circulated among the Christians living in Jerusalem in the first few days after his death, about 30 AD. The Gospel writers then used these same stories for teaching.
John takes us to a Sunday meeting with the disciples when all of a sudden Jesus appears among them. The disciples are overjoyed. Jesus sends them to spread the Gospel and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, one of “the twelve”, Thomas, was not there to share the experience. When the others tell him they have seen the living Lord Jesus, he doesn’t believe them. Rather brashly, he declares he will only believe if he can touch the nail scars in Jesus’s hands and the scar in his side.
The community meet again the next Sunday and Thomas is with them. The Lord appears and greets them. Shockingly, he invites Thomas to probe his wounds by putting his fingers in the torn hands and his entire hand in the hole in Jesus’s side.
Did Thomas do it? We don’t know. It appears that seeing Jesus was enough. So he too declares Jesus to be his Lord and his God. Thomas made a confession of faith because he saw the risen Christ. Jesus recognises all those who come after and still believe without seeing him physically.
What is the difference between the new-found Church community described above and the one to which you belong?
Is the risen Jesus present in your Christian community? Can he be seen and touched, apart from Jesus as the consecrated bread and wine? If Jesus is alive after his death on the Cross does it make a difference to you? Can you join Thomas and say, “my Lord and my God”?
The first words John records Jesus saying to the disciples when he appears among them are “Peace be with you”. Consider the significance of this. Maybe these are words you need to hear from Jesus too.
Using Psalm 118, choose some verses as a thanksgiving to your Father in heaven for Jesus’s Resurrection and the eternal hope this gives us. Also give thanks for Jesus’s presence within our communities.
The two New Testament texts take us deeper into our contemplation. Acts 4:32-35 explains how the Apostles witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In 1 John 5:1-6, John, an old man now, reflects on the outcomes of accepting the Resurrection of Jesus. It has to lead to loving our neighbour and being prepared to share with those in need.
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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