Easter evening, having gathered together in an upper room, the disciples receive a visit from the risen Jesus.
He’s not willing to take anyone else’s word for things. Frederick Buechner says of Thomas: Imagination was not Thomas’s long suit. They can be annoying – how come he won’t believe our testimony?However, persons like Thomas push us to ask questions of our faith and push us to offer good solid answers to the questions of faith as well.Not only that, but as Levison also notes there is intimacy here—much like a kiss on the mouth.And with this breathing in of the Spirit, Levison writes: “Jesus gives to his friends the new found authority of the Spirit, to forgive or not – but not from arm’s length.We’re not told why Thomas was absent, but whatever the reason he didn’t receive the benefit of the earlier visitation.
He lacks that breath of the Spirit, and so he’s not sure he can trust their witness.
Jesus breathes upon and says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” When Jesus’s breathes on them it’s not just a general blowing of air into the room.
Jack Levison suggests that this is a rather intimate act.
The very personal act of inbreathing turns into a fresh call for his frightened and timid friends” [40 Days with the Holy Spirit: Fresh Air for Every Day, p. With this commission, accompanied by the intimate gift of the Spirit, the disciples are ordained and empowered to grant forgiveness (or retain it).
It must have been an exciting, if not also confusing moment (how do you make sense of Jesus’ ability to walk through walls).
These are people who struggle with the physical nature of Jesus.