THE MEETING place of all who believed in Jesus, after his death on the cross, seems to have been the upstairs room, where Jesus had his last supper. There they met from day to day; and it was to this place that the two men came from Emmaus with the report of their meeting with Jesus. On the evening of Sunday, the first Easter day, the followers of Jesus were gathered together in this room. Ten of the eleven disciples of Christ were there, Thomas being absent; and with them were the women and a number of others who were believers in Jesus.
The doors leading to this room were shut and locked, for they feared the Jewish rulers and people. They were talking together of these reports that had come to them of Jesus having risen and having been seen, when all of a sudden they saw Jesus himself standing in the middle of the room. He said to them:
“Peace be to you!”
At the first sight of him, they were frightened, for they thought it was not Jesus alive whom they saw, but the ghost or spirit of Jesus dead.
“Why are you so startled?” said Jesus to them, “and why do doubts come to you? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I, myself. Feel me, and look at me; a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see that I have!”
With these words he showed them his hands and his feet, with the holes left by the nails on the cross still in them. Even yet, they felt the sight of Jesus was too good to be true, and could scarcely believe that it was their Lord living. He said to them:
“Have you here anything to eat?”
They brought to him a piece of broiled fish; and he ate it while they looked on. This was not because he was hungry and needed food, for he no longer needed anything; but simply to show them that he was really living.
Then at last they were afraid no longer, and believed fully that their Lord was with them living; and their hearts were full of joy. Jesus said to them again :
“Peace be with you; as the Father sent me forth, even so I send you forth.”
Then he breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit of God ! I give you power that if you take away the sins of men, they are taken away from them, just as if I myself forgave them; and if you do not take away their sins, then the guilt of their sins shall stay upon them.”
After talking with his followers for a time on that evening, Jesus disappeared as suddenly as he had come. This was his fifth appearance on that day, the day of his rising from the tomb.
But, as we have seen, Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, was not with the others on that evening, and being absent did not meet the risen Jesus. The other disciples said to him:
“We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas would not believe them. He thought that they were all mistaken, and said:
“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails on the cross, and put my finger on those marks of the nails; and unless I can put my hand into the wound made by the spear in his side, I will not believe that he is alive ! ”
A week later, on the next Sunday evening, they all met again in the upper room; and at this time, Thomas was present. Though the doors were shut, Jesus came again and stood among them, with the words as before: “Peace be with you!”
He looked at Thomas and said to him :
“Look at my hands, and put your finger there; and look at my side, and thrust your hand into it. Do not longer refuse to believe that I am alive, but believe in me.”
Thomas answered him: “My Lord, and my God!”
“Is it because you have seen me that you have believed in me?” said Jesus. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed!”
You remember that John, the beloved disciple, believed that Jesus had risen when he looked into the empty tomb, and before he had seen him alive.
This meeting with the disciples on the second Sunday evening was the sixth appearance of Jesus after rising from the dead.