After Jesus rose from the tomb, He appeared to His followers several times before returning to Heaven.
The first time He appeared was that Easter night, when Jesus’ disciples were gathered together in one room. They had locked the doors because they were afraid the temple leaders who didn’t want people to believe Jesus had risen might come to try and get them.
Jesus appeared to them, right there in the middle of the room. He showed them the holes that the nails had left in His hands. Jesus’ disciples were overjoyed at seeing Him again.
But Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. When the disciples saw him, they couldn’t wait to share the good news. They excitedly told Thomas what had happened, expecting him to leap for joy. But Thomas simply gasped in disbelief.
“I’ll believe that when I see it!” he declared. “I want to feel His hands for myself.”
A whole week went by before Thomas got his chance. This time, all the disciples were together. Just like before, the doors were locked. There was no way for anyone to get in unnoticed. And just like before, Jesus appeared in the middle of the room, right before everyone’s eyes.
Jesus looked right at Thomas. “Well,” Jesus told him, “here I am. Come, feel My hands and see for yourself. Have faith and don’t doubt the words of your friends any longer.”
Thomas, no longer thinking of needing the proof he had asked for before, whispered out, “My Lord! My God!” as he gazed lovingly at Jesus.
“It’s good that you believe after seeing Me,” Jesus responded. “But how much greater is the faith of those who believe in Me without seeing Me.”
Just as before, Jesus disappeared again, leaving His disciples wondering how long they would have to wait this time before He showed Himself to them again.
Sometime after this, Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John were all out on a boat fishing together on Lake Tiberias. They fished all night long but did not catch a single thing.
As the sun began to rise, Jesus stood on the shore, watching them as they brought their boat closer.
“Have you caught anything?” they heard a voice call to them from the shore, but they did not realize it was Jesus.
“Nothing!” they called back to Him.
“Try lowering your net on the other side of the boat!” He yelled back.
The disciples shrugged, thinking it could do no harm to try the stranger’s advice.
Instantly, their net was overflowing with fish. There were so many they could not even pull the nets into the boat.
John’s heart leapt inside his chest. He knew instantly that this was no coincidence. It had to be a miracle. The Man on the shore must be Jesus.
“It’s the Lord!” John called giddily to Peter. Peter jumped right into the water, clothes and all. He swam to the shore while the other disciples worked together to drag the net into the boat and row toward land.