36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
“48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” –From Luke 24.
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, 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 in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, 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 believed.”–From John 20.
All right. How many of you have fallen off your devotional wagon since Easter? Show of hands, please. Ah, I figured I wasn’t the only one. The drama of Jesus’ Passion can be exhausting to walk through. Imagine what the disciples went through! Forget drama, enter trauma. It is a lot easier to believe in the Resurrection of Christ when you know the whole story. The disciples were stuck because of what they had seen. The evidence of their eyes overwhelmed Christ’s words to them. After Jesus’ death and burial, they huddled together to comfort each other, but also because they were afraid–they figured it was only a matter of time before the Jewish leaders would come looking for them to kill them.
Into this setting of fear and despair steps Jesus, greets them all with “Peace!” Notice the time it takes them to actually believe that it is truly Jesus, in the flesh, alive, human, resurrected–he had to go so far as to ask for food and eat it in front of them for them to truly believe! In Jesus’ presence, their despair turns to joy, their trauma is redeemed. The hoops Jesus has to jump through to make them recognize it is truly him give us a greater sympathy with Thomas who has not seen and does not believe. A week later, Jesus appears to all of them again, this time with Thomas present. Thomas sees and believes.
Did you notice the instruction Jesus gives the disciples? To stay in Jerusalem until power comes. Why do you suppose he doesn’t immediately send them out? I wonder if it was in recognition of their humanity, that they needed time to reconcile what they saw–death and resurrection–as one event, not as an end, but as a beginning. To realize for themselves what it meant that Jesus was alive and not dead, to process what it meant that his kingdom was heavenly rather than earthly. After huddling in disappointment, did they huddle again in joy to wonder what was coming next?
Lord, let my Easter exhaustion turn me to you; speak “peace” to my muddled soul and let me find joy and wonder as I contemplate your Resurrection and what it means for the whole world. Amen.