In today’s gospel we have the famous scene of doubting Thomas. It is a moment of great proclamation and witness to the risen Christ. At the same time it demonstrates the profound doubt of the human heart in the person of Thomas. This witness account speaks directly to us today.
The Apostles follow Jesus for three years. That was the duration of His public ministry. They became His closest friends. They truly believe that He was sent from God the Father. They believe that He was the Messiah the Savior. However they did not understand fully what that meant. Until Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit in the moment of Pentecost they are still thinking in terms of earthly salvation. They thought in terms of freedom from the Romans who occupied the Jewish land. They did think in terms of spiritual freedom but did not fully understand what Jesus was offering in terms of salvation. Until they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit they had incomplete understanding. They had doubt. They had fear.
In today’s Gospel Jesus comes to the Apostles. It is eight days after the resurrection. They are in a locked room filled with fear. It is important that that is exactly where Jesus goes and appears. Jesus comes to them in the midst of their fear to give them peace. Not only where the door is locked, but one could imagine their minds and hearts were locked as well. This means that they were imprisoned by their own thoughts and anxieties in mind and heart.
Imagine the relief and peace and joy Jesus provides them. Jesus tells them to be at peace. He then breathes on them. This is the ancient symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been called the breath of God. The Spirit of God. The life of God. And so when Jesus breathes on them He is giving them the Holy Spirit. He says to them “receive the Holy Spirit “Jesus then speaks about the forgiveness of sins. Jesus helps the Apostles understand it is not freedom from the Romans He delivers but rather freedom from sin.
Jesus also clearly states that He then sends the Apostles out into the world to continue His work and ministry. “As the Father sent me so I send you“. This is very important. For those of us who follow Jesus we receive what He gives. We receive the Holy Spirit. We receive His forgiveness. And then we go forth living in that spirit. We overcome our anxieties and fears and live confident of His love and mercy.
Even though we have this powerful witness account, we too may be like Thomas. At times in our life we may question God. We may wonder how things really connect in our lives. We may doubt God‘s presence or care for us. And we see what Jesus does. He makes a special visit just for Thomas. Jesus then makes the point of stating blessed are those who have not seen and believe. That is us. We believe because of the witness accounts such as today’s gospel.
Jesus knows that’s hard for us. He knows it’s a challenge for us not to have a direct encounter with him and still place our trust in him. We gather today trusting in God. We come perhaps with fears and anxieties and maybe even some doubt.
On the second Easter Sunday let us receive this Gospel and know God comes to us. He comes to us in our worship and in scripture. He comes to us and care and love we receive from others. He comes to us in our prayer. It is not the same as the Apostles. But it is still very real. Today my prayer for you is that you know his presence and love. May we are unlock our minds and our hearts to receive the Lord. Amen hallelujah.