John 20 : 19 - 31 ( NRSV )

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples 1 had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ":Peace be with you."2(19) After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.3 Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.(20) Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."4(21) When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.5(22) If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."6(23) But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.(24) 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."(25) 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."(26) 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."(27) Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"7(28) 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."7(29) 8Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.(30) 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.(31)


     Originally this passage was the end of the gospel of John. Throughout his account John weaves themes of blindness and seeing. Some 'see' - but they really don't. Some who are 'blind' come to see! Some can pick up the signs while others miss what's right under their noses!
        Jesus appeals to His practice as indicating His authority. But He also taunts His enemies that the only sign they will get is that they will not kill Him for good. The issue behind the signs is: What do we make of Jesus? Is He the chosen one of God, the hinge of history, the point to which eratic Hebrew wanderings lead? Is he perhaps even more than all these things?
        On the evening of the week's first day - the day on which the tomb of Jesus had been discovered empty - Jesus appears to a group of disciples. Jesus appeared to Thomas exactly one week later, when the community had again assembled. This indicates that Sunday had early become the Christian, "Day of the Lord." The characteristic greeting of the Risen Jesus to His followers is, "Peace be with you;" a liturgical greeting rich in Hebrew and early Christian tradition. Coming from the Risen Jesus it expresses the new covenant's benefits.
        The report of the story of Thomas situates the incident during the week between the two Sunday assemblies. These assemblies link vv.26-29 with the first appearance. The account raises the important question of the grounds for belief in the Risen Jesus. Thomas comes to faith during the assembly. Two points are emphasised. First, although the Risen Jesus has a mode of being that is unrelated to time and space (v.26), He is the same person who died on the cross (v.27). Second, with or without seeing, faith is absolutely required to confess God's presence in the Risen Jesus (vv.28-29).
        At one time, emphasis may have been on the reality of the Risen Jesus. In John's gospel, however, the significance of the Risen Jesus had to be clarified. John wants to show the possibliity of belief for those who had not shared in the early experience of the post-Easter community. The evangelist concludes with a statement about his intention to write an account of the practice of Jesus' apprenticing His disciples, for the benefit of later generations of disciples.
John 20:1-31 The risen Jesus reveals his glory and confers the Spirit. This story fulfills the basic need for testimony to the resurrection. It is a series of separate stories.
1. [ v.19 ] The disciples: By implication from Jn.20:24 this means ten of the Twelve, presumably in Jerusalem.
2. [ v.20 ] Peace be with you: Although this could be an ordinary greeting, John intends here to echo Jn.14:27. The theme of rejoicing in Jn.20:20 echoes Jn.16:22.
3. [ v.20 ] Hands and . . . side: Lk.24:39-40 mentions "hands and feet," based on Ps.22:17.
4. [ v.21 ] By means of this sending, the Eleven were made apostles, that is, 'those sent' (cf Jn.17:18), though John does not use the noun in reference to them. A solemn mission or "sending" is also the subject of the post-resurrection appearances to the Eleven in Mt.28:19; Lk.24:47; Mk.16:15.
5. [ v.23 ] The Council of Trent defined that this power to forgive sins is exercised in the sacrament of penance. See Mt.16:19; Mt.18:18.
6. [ v.28 ] My Lord and my God: This forms a literary inclusion with the first verse of the gospel: "and the Word was God."
7. [ v.29 ] This verse is a beatitude on future generations; faith, not sight, matters.
8. [ vv.30-31 ] These verses are clearly a conclusion to the gospel and express its purpose. While many manuscripts read come to believe, possibly implying a missionary purpose for John's gospel, a small number of quite early ones read "continue to believe," suggesting that the audience consists of Christians whose faith is to be deepened by the book; cf Jn.19:35.

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