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 2:42-47; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Peter 1:3-9
In the Synoptic Gospels and in John’s Gospel, we find descriptions of a number of meetings between the disciples and the risen Christ. The entire faith of the Church is based on the testimony of those who met Jesus alive after having seen him die on the Cross. The Apostle Paul strongly defends Jesus’s physical resurrection in response to doubts among the Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15).
Jesus’s Resurrection confirmed all he had said and done. It also assured the disciples’ faith in Jesus as the Son of God.
Thomas is not present when Jesus appears to the other disciples and he is not willing to accept their testimony. He wants to see Jesus for himself and touch his wounds. Jesus graciously allows Thomas to come to faith in his Resurrection on his own terms. But Jesus is mindful of the majority of Christians who believe in his Resurrection through the gift of faith, the testimony of God’s word and the simple witness of other Christians who daily say: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again.”
In this passage Jesus also commissions the disciples to continue his mission of restoring people into a right relationship with God and extending God’s kingdom rule on earth, saying: “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” This is followed immediately with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The passage ends with a clear declaration of faith. Real life is only possible lived out through faith in Jesus.
Have you encountered the risen Christ and accepted his lordship and divinity? How did you come to accept Jesus as your Lord and God?
Is your faith in Jesus something that is only formal or intellectual? How does it affect your daily life?
What do you feel that Jesus has sent you to do? What part can the Holy Spirit play in this?
Prayerfully offer your life to God, especially the areas that you find difficult to surrender to his Lordship. Pray the words “Jesus, My Lord and God” as you submit each area to him.
Three times in this passage Jesus says to his disciples: “Peace be with you.” We all need to hear these words. God’s peace keeps our hearts and minds safe (Philippians 4:7). Take some time to be renewed by God’s peace.
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