Standing Among the Disciples

KEY VERSE: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me, and see me; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” —Luke 24:39


DURING the three-and-one-half years of the ministry of Jesus, the disciples had accepted him as the long-promised Messiah. From the prophecies they had concluded, along with the rest of the nation of Israel, that when Messiah came he would immediately establish his kingdom, and as the followers of Jesus, they were to have the privilege of sharing with him the honor and blessings. For this prospect, they had sacrificed friends, reputation, and business in order to devote their energy and time to declaring the presence of Messiah and the establishment of his kingdom. But they had a very limited knowledge and an erroneous idea of the manner and time of the establishment of the kingdom. A full knowledge was not then necessary; it was enough that they manifested faith in Jesus and that they demonstrated that faith by their actions. A complete understanding was not possible until they received the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. When he [it] the Spirit of truth, is come, … [it] will guide you into all truth … and show you things to come, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you.”—John 16:12,13; 14:26

It is impossible for us to appreciate the disappointment and despair that came over the disciples during and after our Lord’s trial and crucifixion. Jesus was aware that this would happen, and in many instances he endeavored to prepare them for this experience, but because of their preconceived ideas they were unable to comprehend what he was saying. A prophecy that our Lord was familiar with states, “I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31,32) Therefore during the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension, it was the purpose of Jesus to bring them together again and to reestablish their faith.

It is important to remember that during this time the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the disciples and that the learning process was still inhibited by preconceived ideas. Therefore, the Lord led them gradually to an understanding of what had happened. He broke the news of his resurrection first to the women who came early to the tomb to anoint his dead body with ointment and spices. (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1,10) The women then conveyed the message to the disciples that the angel had spoken to them, “Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.”—Matt. 28:5-7

This message was received by the disciples with a mixture of joy and reserved acceptance. Then the Lord accompanied the two sad and perplexed disciples as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The disciples did not recognize Jesus, who had assumed the likeness of a stranger. During their walk together the stranger opened the Scriptures to them, showing by the prophecies that what had happened to Jesus were the very things that were foretold. The account is recorded in Luke 24:25-27.

There were other appearances including the incident of our selected scripture where he appeared in the midst of a gathering of the disciples. His purpose, as in previous appearances, was to comfort them and calm their fears and to reestablish their faith. Jesus displayed his hands and his feet to assure them that it was he who had been resurrected. Thomas was not present, however, and when told about it later he said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, … and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24,25) It is worthy of note to see to what extent Jesus was willing to go, to reestablish Thomas’ faith. We read that about eight days later the disciples were again gathered together and Thomas was with them. Jesus spoke to him saying, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”—John 20:27,28

It was thus with wisdom, patience, and love that the Lord gathered his disciples together under his wings, and reestablished their faith in preparation for the experiences that they were soon to have.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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