The evening of the same day Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were still in fear for their lives. They were meeting in the upper room in which they had celebrated the Passover feast with Jesus just three days prior.
The doors were locked. The windows were secured. The followers of Jesus were quite stressed out for fear they would also be arrested and receive the same fate as Jesus. Imagine them straining to listen for any sound of approaching danger — creaks on the stairs, muffled conversation outside on the street.
Then, without warning, Jesus stood among them. In my imagination I see Jesus raising his hand and saying, “Hi guys!” causing them to jump out of their skin.
But he quickly says, “Peace be with you.” He was assuring them it was he, and that they could be calm. They could feel safe because of his presence.
To help prove it was him, he showed them his hands and side. There they saw the telltale wounds he suffered just three days before. It really was Jesus.
He said once again, “Peace be with you.” He doubly wanted to assure them that he was alive and with them. All the disciples believed — well, all except one. Thomas was not present when Jesus was there. We don’t know where he was, but he was not in that upper room.
When Thomas returned from where he had gone, the others excitedly told him that Jesus had been with them. Thomas doubted them. He said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Thomas wanted proof! He had invested so much time and energy, had sacrificed so much to follow Jesus that he didn’t want to get sucked into the others’ delusions. He didn’t want to get his hopes up, only to have them dashed again. The testimony of his fellow believers wasn’t enough.
It’s that way today, too, isn’t it? People want proof. The word of our Lord’s followers isn’t good enough.
So what proof can be given? We can live the words of our Lord to the absolute best of our ability, to demonstrate what Jesus has taught and what he expects of us.
Live the Easter message. Live what Christ teaches. Worship the Lord your God. Nurture discipleship. Serve God’s people. Remember the words of someone long ago: “You may be the only Bible someone reads.”
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.