Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. – John 20
Have you ever watched a toddler play hide and seek? It is the best! They are so funny when they cover their eyes and assume because they can’t see you that you can’t see them. The way they giggle and laugh at their ability to fool you.
Have you ever put something important someplace in your house so you would keep it safe. But you turn around later and forget where it is altogether?
Have you ever hidden something from someone you care about because you don’t want to hurt them? May be it was something small like food that was stuck in their teeth. Or may be it was something larger like someone saying bad things about them behind their back.
Have you ever hidden the fact that you loved Jesus, for fear of how someone would react? May be you thought they weren’t a believer. May be you thought you would come off as preaching. May be you were just scared.
The disciples were no different from us. They were fearful for their lives because not only did they believe Jesus was the Messiah but they were Jesus closest friends. These were the people that spent all their time with Jesus. They were fearful that they would be the next to get attacked by the Jews and may be even die themselves. It was no wonder they hid their meetings from the public. No wonder they locked their doors to outsiders.
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
We know from previous stories that Jesus told the disciples that it was the Holy Spirit that would be with them when he could not. It would be the friend that would never leave them. It would be there to guide them. This is exactly the point where he gives that gift to them. Jesus is letting them know that they need not fear his departure, because with the Holy Spirit’s help they can continue his ministry. They can continue teaching people about God just as Jesus once did. It was to be their job to continue on.
It is also our job to continue. We need not be scared of what others might think of us. If our faith is important to us – we need just be ourselves. We don’t need to hide our faith from our regular lives because the Holy Spirit will be with us to guide us. We need not hide behind locked doors any longer!
But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”
But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood month them, and said, “Peace to you.”
Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”
Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
I know that we’ve all heard many stories on the meaning of Thomas’ unbelief. But I’m just going to throw this out there. Thomas was human. Could it be that he just felt left out and a little jealous of what his close friends got to experience without him? I know that you’ve experienced a group of people talking about something that happened or an inside joke. You may feel hidden and alone, or even invisible. Thomas may have felt the same. He seemed to be the only one not there that day. He was probably hurt and felt hidden from that group experience of seeing their beloved teacher. He may have felt like he would be left out forever and be the only one that didn’t get to see and touch him again.
We can all relate to that human side of Thomas. But we also need to relate to the other side. A majority of people would not have the privilege to see and touch Jesus, but they would still believe. Jesus wanted Thomas to know that we need to find a way to believe even when we cannot see and touch because that is what their ministry would be based on moving forward. Without Jesus there in the flesh, they would need to find a way for people to still believe.
It is our job as believers to live a life that reflects Jesus actions. To live a life full of love and generosity. To live a life with actions that proclaim the good news of God’s great love for us. To show others that it is because of Jesus that we have real and eternal life. It is our job not to hide our faith but to live it proudly. I leave you today with the last verses of John 20 that say it better than I:
Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so that you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.