When Jesus appeared to his disciples two Sundays in a row after his resurrection what happened and what did he say?
Let’s understand that peace from heaven granted to us in our doubts.
We will look at John 20:19-23 and Jesus’ appearance to ten of the eleven remaining disciples and then to Thomas.
John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
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1. Peace in Our Fears
Jesus first appeared to the disciples on Resurrection Sunday. Then a week later, also on a Sunday, he appeared through locked doors to his fearful disciples and stood among them. Sunday meetings after the Jewish day of rest, in memory of the resurrection, became an early practice in the church. Jesus’ resurrected body exhibited the wounds of the flesh. He came to their fears and brought them peace from heaven. Three times Jesus proclaimed peace to his disciples. Is peace preparation for being sent, receiving the Holy Spirit, believing and by believing having life in his name? First came the resurrection, then blessings of peace to those who had no peace and weeks later the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Sent Proclaiming Heaven’s Forgiveness
John 20:23 does not support confessing to a priest who forgives on God’s behalf. It is not an ancient practice, but became popular from the 7th to 11th centuries. There is not one Scripture to indicate that this verse was then understood to be a priest-confessor act. Verse 23 literally says in Greek, If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have already been forgiven. They were already forgiven at the cross. It also says is that as the Father sent Jesus, so he sent them. Who were they? They were the 11 apostles specifically. Does this also apply to us? Anyone who is sent in power of the Holy Spirit is sent with this message of forgiveness.
3. Faith and Forgiveness
Does Jesus here contradict his instructions mandating forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer? Forgiveness relates directly to the gospel message. It is a message of forgiveness of sin to those who accept it. It also contains the message that those who refuse it will not be forgiven. Thomas saw Jesus’ wounds, but faith is evidence of things without visible proof (Hebrews 11:1), a mystery. It is written that we might believe and that believing we might have life through his name. All the disciples doubted, not just Thomas. Faith is given to us by God. God entrusts incredible authority to faulty disciples. We accept the message of Jesus, delivered by ordinary faulty people, and will be forgiven when we do.
4. MY Lord and MY God
At the cross all the disciples of Jesus abandoned him. Jesus appeared to them and offered his peace. Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” This was very personal. He did not say OUR Lord or even THE Lord, but MY Lord and MY God. This is what is meant when people speak of a personal relationship with God. Jesus then went on to bless those of us who would believe even though we have not seen, at least not with our physical eyes. We see Jesus but not with our eyes. When we see Jesus with inner spiritual sight, we like they believe. And as Jesus revealed himself to those disciples, so he reveals himself to each of us.
Jesus appeared that second Sunday through locked doors to fearful disciples, and stood among them granting them the peace which surpasses all understanding. As we come to the house of God on a Sunday, may he come and be with us in our fears and doubts saying, Peace be with you!