John 20:19-31 (NRSV)
Verse 19When 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." Verse 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Verse 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Verse 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Verse 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Verse 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. Verse 25So 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."
Verse 26A 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." Verse 27Then 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." Verse 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Verse 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Verse 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. Verse 31But 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.
Jesus was tempted in the wilderness three times.
He foretold his suffering and death three times.
Peter denied Jesus three times.
Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times.
And here, the risen Jesus appears with his disciples to declare peace three times.
The first time, Jesus shows them his hands and his side, scarred with the truth of what he had foretold: Jesus really suffered and died. And it is really he standing in front of them.
The second time, Jesus breathes on them—and he’s not just checking his breath or spreading germs. The gesture reminds us of the Creator filling Adam’s earthen form with breath in the garden. The disciples are being reborn and sent back into the world. Their baptismal promise is being fulfilled and they are rising with Christ to new life that begins right then and there!
Spirit of God, you fill us with life. We often forget your might, but today we remember: the same Spirit who had the power to raise Jesus from the dead is alive in us. This is miraculous resistance and forgiveness meant for the whole world! Send us out to share it in your name. Amen.