The Life of Jesus
Have you ever feared for your life? It is a terrible thing to go through. The disciples were met with this fear after Jesus had been brought before the authorities, falsely accused, condemned, mocked, beaten, abandoned, crucified, and entombed. They knew that their association with Jesus could bring about the same (or similar) punishments. In their fear, they did what most would do; they laid low and hid in a secure space. This space was locked from the inside, as was their fears …
Scripture: John 20:19-31 (NLT)
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
*Elie Wiesel, when asked to describe his faith, used the adjective wounded. “My tradition teaches that no heart is as whole as a broken heart, and I would say that no faith is as solid as a wounded faith.” Another honest believer writes: “It’s not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.” Sometimes it takes all we have to place our faith in God’s promises. Sometimes we forget the promises or, even worse, we dismiss them. However, even in the place of doubt and the embrace of fear, Jesus walks into the room where the disciples were hiding and brings His peace. Jesus then breathes into His disciples the very presence of the Holy Spirit and the authority to forgive sins.
Thomas was not with the others when Jesus appeared, so he refuses to believe that Jesus is alive. He demands to see Jesus for himself and to touch the marks of Jesus’ crucifixion. This is where Jesus shows us it is okay to have doubts. We see Jesus show back up to share with Thomas the evidence that he so desperately asked to see. After touching the wounds of Christ, Thomas gladly and humbly acknowledges that this is truly Jesus and makes a clear declaration of his personal faith: “My Lord and my God!”
How does Jesus greet the disciples in the midst of their doubts? How did the atmosphere of the room change after Jesus entered? What does this show us we should do in the presence of doubt in our own lives?
Dear God, give me the gift of faith. Allow me the assuredness that I can boldly ask of you anything and that if it is in your will, I will receive it. I ask that you grant me peace in the presence of my doubts and give me the courage to boldly proclaim, like Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” In the name of Jesus, AMEN.
*Elie Weisel was a Jewish prisoner who survived being placed in both Auschwitz, and Buchenwald, concentration camps. He was also a Nobel laureate and the author of 57 books, including Night (1960), that was part of the curriculum for my high school students in northern VA a few years ago. It's a fascinating, quick, read and I highly recommend the title.