The Apostles left everything behind to heed Jesus’ call to follow Him and become fishers of men. Their faith grew as they got to know Jesus in His preaching, teaching, miracles and holiness of life. Yet when Jesus was arrested, "they all left him and fled" (Mark 14:50). Jesus’ death shattered their hope that He would be the one to redeem Israel (Luke 24:21). Even after news of the empty tomb and other disciples seeing Jesus (John 20:6-8,18; Luke 24:33-35), they remained in fear within the tomb of their locked doors.
The Risen Lord resurrects the Apostles’ faith
The Risen Lord did not stand at the door and knock (Rev 3:20). He stood among the apostles despite locked doors (John 20:19,26). He gave them His peace (v.19,21,26) to vanquish fear. He showed them His hands and side (v.20,27) as proof that He was the Crucified and Risen Lord, appealing to their faith and reason, which St. John Paul II said “are the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” The Lord commissioned them, breathed on them the Holy Spirit and empowered them to forgive sins (v.21-23).
The Apostles’ reactions
The disciples rejoiced when they saw Jesus. They promptly testified to Thomas that “we have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). But Thomas asked to see and touch the Lord’s wounds before he would believe. Why? His friends’ testimony went against his personal knowledge that Jesus was arrested, crucified, died and was buried. And his friends were not exactly fully trustworthy: one denied Jesus, they all deserted Him in His time of need. To redeem Thomas, the Lord appeared a second time. He invited Thomas to look at and touch His wounds. Seeing the proof he had asked for, Thomas gave his free and absolute assent to God, calling Jesus, “my Lord and my God!" (v.28).
Lessons for us
Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (John 20:29) are directed to us who live in the age of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11), He will give life and strength to our faith too. “No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the holy Spirit” (1Cor 12:3). “The Spirit is the one that testifies and the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6).