Physical proof! That is what the Savior is offering to this group of believing saints. They are being given first hand evidence of his Atonement. The invitation is to touch his body; see and feel it for yourself… “that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”
There is something about this that is jarring for me today, in a good way. I am told, maybe falsely in my own mind, that the Gospel has to do primarily with the Spiritual and the intangible. But here is empirical physical evidence of Christ’s Atonement and he is physically demonstrating the effects of that Atonement to a group of people. All very real physical experiences.
“We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen;” John 3:11 We are not making things up here. We speak of knowledge of things as they really are. (See Jacob 4:13)
Continuing on this thought just a little longer, the Atonement of Jesus Christ was for him as much a physical act as it was also a spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or social act. It required him to have a physical body to perform the Atonement. This suffering could not be done in the spirit only, just as our spirits alone could not obtain salvation without our physical bodies.
I took a brief detour into John 12. I got there by studying the phrase “Hosanna”. I found the bulk of the chapter instructive on several accounts. 1) As John begins his account of the Savior, he focused on the theme of light. Chapter 12 continues with this theme of light, almost as a book end here as his mortal ministry is drawing to a close. This chapter also contains more proof of Christ’s fulfilling the words of the prophets. Finally, the separation between true disciple and those who believe but would not forsake the praise of man is illustrated here again. (I have already left the praise of man, would I return?)