The two disciples told the eleven and their companions what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’
Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.
In this season of Easter we celebrate the most amazing thing that has happened in the course of human history. We celebrate the raising of Jesus from the dead. The man who was very publicly put to death is dead no more. Just as publicly, he rose from the dead, appeared to many and then ascended to be with his Father in heaven. All of this was to fulfil God’s promise that a Messiah would come amongst us and would bring us into the closest of relationships with God himself. Put in these terms it is not difficult for us to see why people are sceptical about the truth of Jesus Christ. This had never happened before and it will never happen again. Why should people believe the unbelievable?
We all know the apostle Thomas as ‘Doubting Thomas’ because of his insistence on seeing the wounds of the crucifixion before he would believe that he was not being deceived. In today’s reading, as Jesus appears to his disciples and offers them his peace, there is a little detail that is often overlooked. Jesus said to them: Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. We are told that: They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. The disciples doubted the evidence of their own eyes, and Jesus proved the truth of the situation by showing them the wounds of the crucifixion.
There was an urgency in Jesus’ mission at this point in the gospel narrative. Jesus would soon be ascending to be with his Father in heaven, he could not wait for the faith and resolve of the disciples to mature. Jesus needed them to believe in order that they might go out and share the Good News of the resurrection far and wide.
We are in a very different position from those first disciples. We are called to be disciples and apostles and Jesus is certainly ever present with us. But, we can only come to the realisation of his presence through faith. Faith can take a long time to mature, but it is no less powerful for that. We cannot stretch out our hands and physically touch the wounds of Christ but we can, through prayer and the study of scripture, come to realize the truth as the mustard seed of our faith dies and grows and strengthens and flourishes.
Let us pray that we may come to know the depth of Christ’s peace in our lives. And then let us pray that we may be strengthened and inspired to share the peace of the risen Christ with all we meet as we journey through this life.