“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:19-23)
When Jesus became the risen Lord, certain things changed. The human limitations that Jesus had were lost in death, and what remained was Spirit, a Holy Spirit. But a Holy Spirit that was physical and tangible. When the gospel of John says that Jesus was with them, it did not mean that they felt it inside. Their physical senses of sight and touch told them Jesus was there. Jesus blessed them and granted to them authority to offer forgiveness to sinners who wished to avail themselves of God’s gift of forgiveness.
“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (Verses 24-25)
A good many years ago I was reflecting on the apostle Thomas and commented that he was a visual and tactile learner. We can learn about Jesus and our Lord God many ways. However in our time it is hard to learn about Jesus and our Lord God through visual and tactile ways. There are ways, but more likely to be indirect than direct. Many times these ways are accomplished through human conduits – us. But the Holy Spirit brings about physical miracles that cannot be questioned.
“A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”(Verses 26-29)
When we are presented with irrefutable proof of the Divine, we should accept that. Now . . . . sometimes it is a fine judgmental call as to what is “proof” and irrefutable. Many sincere (and not so sincere) people have questioned miracles and signs of God and Christ. I ironically it is through the testing of the Spirit that we can determine what is Spirit-filled and inspired, and what is not. This does not always clear up the murkiness that can surround an encounter with the Divine.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.(Verses 30-31)
It comes down to, I suppose, what one wants to believe and what one does not. I chose to believe. I believe in testing the Spirit, but I would prefer to err on the side of the Spirit than to negate or dismiss someone’s encounter with the Divine. There are SO MANY WAYS to encounter the Divine. The Lord meets us where we are, and leads us to where the Lord wants us to be, if we will allow it. May the Lord lead you, beloved reader. Selah!