We gather with the disciples in an upper room, behind locked doors, for fear of the Jews. The fear of the Jews pervades the Gospel of John. The Resurrection has been seen moments ago. Yet the followers of God are not yet Easter people. That moment will come, but it is not yet. Jesus appears among them, breathes on them and says receives the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the first born of the new creation, is so filled with the Holy Spirit, the presence of Love, God’s presence, that Jesus becomes a source of God’s presence for others. Jesus then breathes on us his followers, filling us with holy breath, and sends us out as apostles, to live as Resurrection People, Easter people, who are so filled with the presence of God that we become a source of that presence for others.
It is a relief to know that the disciples are given the gift of God’s presence while behind locked doors, while it is evening and while fear of the Jews is the atmosphere. There is no ordered-ness about their lives; there is no deep manifestation of faith, just darkness, fear and locked doors. Jesus appears within their place of fear and breathes on them the holy spirit and commissions them as apostles.
19 When 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.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So 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.” 26 A 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.” 27 Then 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But 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.