Jesus said to him, “have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
– John 20:29
The bodily resurrection of Jesus is not a spectacular event with crashing cymbals and blaring trumpets. No, the discovery that He is alive is like the quiet dawning of a new day announcing the defeat of the night. The risen Christ meets his friends personally and intimately at unexpected times and places, overcoming their grief and doubt. They are flooded with joy and peace as they move from sight to faith.
Mary Magdalene who first comes to the open tomb assumes the body is gone runs to share the disturbing news with Peter, who with John race to the tomb. After Peter and John return to their home, Mary who is consumed by grief has returned to tomb, she stoops down and sees the two Angels who enquire why she is crying? Then, not recognising “a stranger, supposedly the gardener”, Jesus asks “Whom are you seeking”? Then the risen Christ speaks her name – tenderly but with authority, “Mary”. It is the Shepherd calling one of His sheep, and Mary knows the voice. Then she turned to Him, falls at His feet and utters “Rabboni!” (Teacher)
Mary is now sent to “My brothers”! Previously they had been called servants in John 13;16 and friends in John 15;15, a new title for the disciples who have now become sons and daughters of the Father through Jesus’ death and resurrection v17. When Jesus speaks of “my Father and your Father, and My God and your God”, He is defining a whole new standing for believers in the “divine household”.
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, out ran Peter and got to the tomb first, but he did not go in; he stoops down at the entrance and “peeps in”, seeing nothing but the linen cloths. Obviously there is no body. As soon as Peter arrives impulsive and courageous as ever, he goes in and sees the grave clothes lying neatly, all in place. “Still in the folds” as if the dead one had simply stepped out into life. Peter sees but apparently makes no response. When John enters v8 he sees and believes! The empty tomb and the folded clothes are quiet evidences for him that Jesus is alive. And John believes!
Then the living Lord joins the disciples who are gathered in fear behind bolted doors. These men who had deserted and denied Jesus were greeted with “Shalom” and a restored relationship, recreated and empowered by the Holy Spirit for mission as the “sent ones”. Their sadness is transformed to joy! Eight days later Thomas who had missed the first encounter with the risen Lord, is now with the others and Jesus again enters through closed doors to meet personally with Thomas and gently deals with his misgivings. Jesus offered Himself, “look and touch”! Thomas had no need to touch, he fell down before Jesus and cried out in adoration, “My Lord and my God”!