Jesus’s very first action in His resurrection presence with His disciples was to grant and confer peace to them. He even said it twice to make the point: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you’” (v21, also Lk. 24:36). This was not a mere greeting, “hello” or “how’s it going.’” Rather, it expresses the recognition of “His peace accomplished” on the Day of Resurrection and focuses on the true bond of unity of those in Christ. We have peace with God (definitively after the resurrection, believe it!). From this Jesus, summarizes our mission. “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (v21). By this peace we are duly and actually empowered in His presence to be “sent” to the world.
Even so . . . one can still doubt. Here is Jesus standing right front of them for the second time, conferring peace, conveying the Holy Spirit of God by blowing air out of His glorified lungs, no less! But the darkness of the human heart “needs proof” beyond even seeing a dead man walk through doors, seeing a man crucified now alive and well, and even hearing the resurrected Lord speak peace and blow on them! Thomas needed “real proof” so Jesus met him all the way: “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side.”
Thomas was finally and fully able to believe despite his earlier skepticism in the face of many credentialed and credible witnesses, namely: at least twelve other men (10 disciples, plus the two on the road to Emmaus) and several women. This is a large number of witnesses, folks! Mary had hugged Him and Jesus had eaten broiled catfish right in front of ten men (Luke 24:42, well maybe not catfish, some dynamic equivalent). They had all seen Him but they had also “heard Him” and “handled Him” (1 John 1:1). Finally the word is plain: “do not be unbelieving, but believing.” If you are unbelieving there are no “proofs” which suffice. But if you are willing to believe the truth, then even seeing a folded veil inside an empty tomb will be all the proof you’ll ever need (John 20:8).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more