H ere are five observations about what happened when the risen Christ appeared to the freaked out disciples, as recorded in John 20:19-31.
1. Thomas wasn’t with the other eleven disciples. The group was hiding behind lock and key because they feared for their life. But since Thomas wasn’t with them, what does that say about Thomas? He gets the bad reputation for doubting, but if you read between the lines, it looks like he might have been the only one who was courageous enough to move about in the period immediately following the crucifixion. Is there a relationship between courage and doubt? A strong-willed nature, perhaps? The desire to do your own thing, and the need for firsthand experience?
2. After Jesus greets the disciples with “peace” and lets them marvel at his risen body, the first thing he says to them is, “I send you.” Our encounters with Christ are not just for our own fun. They are for the purpose of being sent out.
3. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them. I can imagine the breath of fresh air this was… having been locked up in a small room, Jesus’ arrival was perhaps both a spiritual and a physical breath of fresh wind that opened the doors and let the light shine on their fear. If we look for Jesus, he will breathe on our fears with the Holy Spirit and give us peace.
4. Jesus left after his first appearance – the one without Thomas present – and didn’t return for eight days. What was he doing? Appearing to everyone else? Taking a stroll? Regardless, Jesus doesn’t work on the kind of timetable we’d prefer. Thomas had to wait for the opportunity to experience Jesus again.
5. Before Thomas touched Jesus’ wounds, he said, “the Lord.” After his upfront encounter, he said, “my Lord.” It is when we get in touch with the suffering of Christ that we get to know a personal Christ.