John 20:19-23 and Luke 24:36-49 are two descriptions of the first appearance to the disciples as a group on the evening of the day of His resurrection. Ten of them were gathered together, hiding from the Jews. Having seen Jesus arrested, beaten, and crucified, they were wondering if the religious Jews would come after them next. The day had been unusual. Peter and John had themselves seen the empty tomb, along with several of the women. Mary Magdalene and Peter testified that they had seen Jesus personally, that He was indeed raised from the dead.
As they wondered and marveled, unsure of what would happen next, Jesus suddenly appears in their midst. His resurrected, glorified body did not have to come through the door; He simply manifested Himself in their presence. Their first thought was that they were seeing only a spirit. I would imagine that would be our first thought as well! Nobody comes back from the dead!
Of course, Jesus knows the doubts that fill their mind and heart, and He sets them at ease. He shows them His hands and His feet, still bearing the physical scars of the cross. He invites them to touch Him, proving that He is still made of flesh and blood and is a real person, alive! When they still had trouble believing, He asks for food. He eats a piece of fish, and finally, they are convinced He is real.
John tells us that Thomas was not present when Jesus first appeared but shows up after Jesus has gone. He has unfairly been called “doubting Thomas” because he says he won’t believe until he also can physically see and touch Jesus’ scars. John reminds us that they ALL doubted, even when Jesus was standing right in front of them. A week later Jesus sets Thomas’s doubts to rest when He appears a second time to the gathered group. He tells him, “do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
What happened after they finally set aside their doubts and believed? Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. All the things written about Him in the Old Testament (the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms) suddenly made sense.
Belief comes before understanding.
Faith comes before revelation.
Romans 1 tells us that all men are accountable before God because He has already revealed enough of Himself in creation to cause us to believe.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).
What we do with what we ALREADY know about God is up to us. The disciples had a choice. They could believe what was right in front of their eyes or suppress the truth, attributing it to a crazy dream and go on about their lives without Jesus. They could consider the last three years a nice experience with a really cool but unusual guy and go back to their tax collecting and fishing boats, or they could choose to believe and experience eternal life.
Biblical faith is not blind faith but entrusting our lives to who God has already revealed Himself to be. What we do with that knowledge will determine not only what happens to us in this life but in eternity. The choice is up to us.
Do you want to know the truth? Then be humble enough to admit you don’t already know it. Jesus is still willing to show you His scars. You only have to ask.