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.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[a]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.”26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 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.”30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31 NRSV)
Where was Thomas? Why was he missing from the group when Jesus showed up?
Perhaps it was his turn to get food for the group assembled behind the locked door. He had to take the back roads, trying not to be noticed by the authorities. His circuitous route delayed his arrival.
When he finally arrived, later than usual, he must have been so disappointed. He’d missed something momentous! Rumors had begun that morning about Jesus’ resurrection, but he didn’t believe them.
Now his friends and colleagues have more to report.
“He came into this room despite the locked door.”
“He greeted us just like he used to, ‘Peace be with you.'”
“He told us to continue his ministry. That God had sent him and now he was sending us.”
“He breathed on us. We received his Spirit!”
“He reminded us that we have the power to forgive sins or not.”
Thomas couldn’t hear any more of this. This isn’t right. People don’t resurrect. He saw the dead body. There was no sign of life in it. It didn’t happen. The disciples are mistaken.
“I need proof!” The conversation ended abruptly.
For the next week, the disciples prayed and made plans and prayed some more. They worshiped, while outside they heard the sounds of the pilgrims to Passover packed up to return home. They discussed how to go about moving Jesus’ ministry forward. While, outside soldiers marched passed keeping Roman peace.
And Thomas yearned. He yearned for the experience of Jesus that his comrades had experienced. He felt as if he’d missed the boat. His mind shut down to the possibilities of miracles and new things. He became confused and dissatisfied.
We know all about yearning, don’t we? We yearn for an end to abuse of any kind; for an end to terrorism; for diseases to go away and stay away; for political leaders to come together for the good of all; for the end of mass migration from dangerous conditions.
We yearn for peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace that Jesus gave his disciples that day. Peace of mind. Well-being. Peace with our neighbors and enemies.
It finally happened for Thomas. Jesus appeared. Despite the locked doors, he appeared and greeted them as always, “Peace be with you.” That’s when Thomas saw with his heart and fell to his knees.”My Lord and my God.”
As the soldiers marched past the disciples’ hiding place searching out insurrectionists, he received Jesus’ peace. In the midst of fear over the future, the disciples received peace. Bolted doors and closed minds couldn’t hold peace back.Thomas yearned to see Jesus just one more time.
We don’t know where he was during Jesus’ first visit to that locked room. What we can surmise is that it served to increase his yearning. Despite his disbelief Christ entered in with his message of extraordinarily good news and breathed peace. Thomas’ response was filled with awe and submission.
Wherever you are in your journey, know this: Jesus can enter locked doors, locked hearts and locked minds; Jesus breathes peace while the world breathes hate and retribution.
Whatever you yearn for, know that Christ enters in breathing peace.
All glory and honor be to God.Amen.