On Easter evening, the disciples were gathered behind locked doors. In spite of the beloved disciple’s belief when he saw the empty tomb, and in spite of Mary’s announcement “I have seen the Lord!” the disciples still feared persecution. The hostility of the world around them still carried more weight for them that Jesus’ words and resurrected reality. They were still letting fear determine their actions and attitudes.
But the risen Christ cannot be held back by a stone-sealed tomb or a locked door. He breaks in on us, as he did on the disciples. And he comes pronouncing and bringing peace and power. He suddenly appears and shows them his hands and his side, thus making the connection for them between his crucifixion and his resurrection.
As soon as this is accomplished and the disciples have rejoiced in his presence, Jesus gives them a commission, just as he did with Mary Magdalene. In John’s account, this is the time when Jesus breathes on them the power of the Holy Spirit.
Interestingly, the first power that Jesus mentions is the power to forgive!
All of the Easter witnesses were victims of misunderstanding or outright unbelief.
“Doubting Thomas” does not fully convey the state of mind of Thomas. The word doubt sounds to me like someone is a bit skeptical or sort of on the fence about something, not sure which way to jump. “I doubt it” is not a very firm conviction about something.
Disbelief implies that a person has evidence in front of them that is so astounding that they are not able to fully believe it.
But unbelief, especially in the case of Thomas, demands that specific criteria be fulfilled before the person will accept the evidence. Thomas makes demands:
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in this hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Of course, when Jesus did appear to Thomas and offered himself to be touched, Thomas did not touch him. He already had enough evidence to believe.
The risen Christ continues to break in on us. Can you see Him?