Encountering a Tangible Faith
John 20:19-31 Jesus Appears to the Disciples
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.’
Jesus and Thomas
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!’ 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.’
The Purpose of This Book
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.
The power of this particular resurrection story for us this day, is that if Jesus showed up for the disciples in the middle of their despair and grief – then Jesus shows up for us in our places of grief and uncertainty with these same words, “peace be with you.” Jesus gives us words for anxious times – “peace.” Peace not as the world can give, but only our risen savior can give. And as we continue to live into anxious times – I think we need an experience of Jesus in this way – to be reminded that Jesus continues to show up in our world.
Jesus shows up for Thomas and quietly says to his doubt and fear, “do not doubt but believe,” offering his wounded side and hands for Thomas to experience. It’s in this tactile experience of the resurrection that Thomas comes to believe and know that Jesus is indeed still alive and at work in the world. Not that unlike our own tactile experience with Jesus.
Each week we gather around the table to have our own doubt transformed to believe when we take bread and wine, immersing ourselves in a sensory experience of Jesus. This meal that we call Holy Communion stands as our weekly reminder that God’s love for us finds us in our locked rooms of fear and worry with words of peace, forgiveness, wholeness and love.