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.
You thought I forgot about the third “Peace be with you” yesterday, didn’t you?
I was saving it for today because peace is declared a third time when Thomas is now with the disciples. Jesus begins again with peace and invites Thomas to see his scars—and also to touch them with his hands.
But Jesus’ visit is for more than just Thomas. Notice that the doors are still locked, the disciples still cautious and afraid for their physical safety. Jesus comes face-to-face with their best intentions and quiet anxieties to love them up close, to encourage their faith, and to send them back out into the world with purpose.
Perhaps this story leaves us waiting for a third appearance behind locked doors. Divine presence comes uniquely in each of our lives, often when we least expect it, when we’re most closed off, when we are holed up and afraid. (How’s that for a little unsettling, but also awesome gift?)
God of peace, find us when we are keeping the story to ourselves. Speak peace and breathe power that sends us back out into the world like your first disciples, forgiven and recommissioned for holy work that mends the world you love. Amen.