Our Gospel is John 20:19-31, taken today from the New International Version (NIV).
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
This passage tells us the disciples were in hiding and we can hardly blame them. Their teacher and friend had been tortured and brutally executed. They were in shock and afraid, not knowing what to do next.
When Jesus appears in their locked room, they are amazed and probably even more afraid. Most of them had scattered when Jesus was arrested and as far as we know, John was the only disciple at the crucifixion. How will the Master treat those who deserted Him?
Rather than anger or recrimination, Jesus says “Peace be with you”. As He forgave those who crucified Him He also forgives those who deserted Him. Jesus understands our fear but He replaces it with His peace. Human weakness is overcome by the strength Christ offers us and we can be forgiven and restored to life through Him.
Loving Lord, we are ashamed that we wander off into sin or flee in fear at the approach of evil. Help us to see the path and the plan God has for each of us and give us the courage to follow. Amen.