An unexpected appearance.
For a week now they had been keeping a low profile. Whilst not exactly in hiding, they were taking care to do nothing that might draw attention to themselves. As a precaution none of them went out alone and when they did, it was only for necessities. Didymus and Mary were out at the market, buying food.
The rest of them were in the upper room locked in, talking quietly amongst themselves as they had been for most of the week. It was not locked to keep them in but to keep others out, because they were afraid. They only unlocked it to re-admit one of their own. From time-to-time a voice would be raised as discussion turned to argument. The speaker quickly told to hush by the others, fearful that too much noise might draw unwanted attention.
Outside, shadows were lengthening and light failing. The sun dipped towards the horizon; soon they would have to light the lamps. The last rays of sun shone through the windows and where it fell was lit by the warm, evening light. Away from the windows, where those last shafts of light did not reach, the shadows deepened until they seemed even darker than the night that would come. Yet as dark as those shadows were, in the darkest corner it seemed to darken even more, thickening into an impenetrable, obsidian blackness.
Bartholomew saw it first. The others, after noticing he had fallen silent, turned to follow his eyes to where he was staring. Most of then stayed stock still, frozen to the spot they occupied. Some were holding their breath. Philip and Thaddeus edged closer to the door, ready to make a run for it. Finally James, the Son of Alphaeus, reached for a lamp and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts at lighting, a small flame guttered into life. Picking up the lamp and holding it out toward the darkened corner he moved closer.
As he approached and the flickering light lifted the shadows, they began to make out a figure, the shape of a man. A moment later the man moved. With an unhurried but sure footstep he came forward, stepping past James into the last shaft of sunlight in the room. Those closest took an involuntary step back and James dropped the lamp. At the same time his jaw dropped at the sight of who stood before them. When the lamp hit the floor and shattered, everyone jumped, startled. Fortunately, when the lamp dropped it went out so did not ignite the spilled oil.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were the first to speak, saying almost together ‘Teacher’. Everyone in that room had witnessed miracles but this was beyond their wildest imagination. Even those who had believed Mary Magdelene, when she had first returned from the open tomb a week earlier and said their teacher was alive, were taken aback. A second later there was a joyous uproar as the ten men there saw their Lord alive and well, bearing scars.
As the uproar began to subside Jesus said ‘Peace be with you.’ He had to repeat it to get their full attention. He continued ‘As the Father has sent me I am sending you.’ and as he breathed the Holy Spirit over them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.
Diddymus and Mary were not back from the market so did not see Jesus. When they were told about how he had appeared to them, Didymus did not believe them. He wanted to see it for himself.
A week went by and when the eleven remaining disciples were again gathered together in the upper room, Jesus appeared again. After greetings were exchanged he addressed himself directly to Didymus. He knew that, that disciple had doubts and needed reassurance. Jesus showed him the wounds where the nails had pierced his hands and feet, and the spear was stabbed into his side.
Didymus reached out tentatively, twice withdrawing his hand, wanting to touch the Master but fearing to do so. He did not know if he was more afraid that this was Jesus come back to them, or that it was not the man he had known. Eventually, needing proof one way or the other, he resolved to touch the wounds.
Meeting Jesus’ eyes fully for the first time, he pointed to the wound in Jesus’ hand and was given an almost imperceptible nod of permission. Closing the distance from pointing to touching Didymus gently felt the uneven swelling around the wound in his master’s hand and the deep depression where the nail had penetrated. As he touched his friend and teacher, he could not help a sharp in take of breath, just as Jesus had done when the nail was driven through into the rough cross.
Didymus eyes flicked back and forth between Jesus face and his side, while he reached to where Jesus had parted his robe, exposing the angry scar where the spear had gone. He ran his finger tips along the scar, carefully so as not to cause pain by his touch. A moment later Didymus, usually known as Thomas, fell to his knees grazing them on the rough wood floor and, clutching at Jesus robe. He cried out ‘My Lord, my God’.
Based on John 20: 19-31