Have you been there, your world suddenly turns upside down? Shock has you in frozen disbelief. Your mind on rewind, over and over again, spinning, this can’t be happening. I would guess most of us have. So after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus’ followers were huddled together, behind locked doors, hiding in fear, gripped with shock, grief, and confusion. What just happened? Wasn’t Jesus the One Who would save them?
Painful experiences happen but then, somehow, life goes on. The pages of the calendar mark another day, a week, a month. Things get better but fear has a way of lingering. It goes underground, reinforcing the knowledge that bad things happen. In subtle ways we close doors and begin to erect walls of self-protection. These walls have a way of stifling us, robbing us of peace and the ease of living freely and lightly.
Living in fear can cause us to hold too tightly to people and power, to things and activities, to whatever helps us in our attempt to feel like we have some semblance of control. We use these things (and other things) as ways to numb out as the drip, drip, drip of doubt wreaks havoc on our souls
That evening, the disciples gathered together. And because they were afraid of reprisals from the Jewish leaders, they had locked the doors to the place where they met.
But suddenly Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace to you!”
Just like that, Jesus showed up. Locked doors are nothing to Him. Their Savior came right on in and stood among them. His words as usual, cut to the chase.
The Risen Christ said, and still says,
“peace to you.”
The beauty of it is there was no scolding for their hiding, their lack of faith. He knew they were still in school. The school of hope and of trust. He knew how broken they were because of His death. He spoke peace, because
He knew what they needed.
Their despair turned to jubilation. The funny thing is, again, a week later (John 21:26-28), we find the disciples behind those locked doors. Again He came to them and told them, “Peace be with you.” He knew of their slowness to learn. Being slow myself, I am ever grateful Jesus is patient with me too.
This time Jesus speaks to them all but He also has something to say to Thomas. When Jesus appeared to the disciples a week prior, Thomas hadn’t been there. They tried to share the exciting news with him but Thomas’ sarcastic skepticism was loud and clear. He told them, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” He dared not have his hopes dashed once again.
We do that don’t we? Use sarcasm and bitterness to prevent our hearts from being broken again, from our hopes being dashed? More walls. More locked doors. We need to be patient and loving towards ourselves and with others when we are too scared to dare to hope.
Jesus, in His loving grace, says to Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus’ intimate knowledge of Thomas made a huge impression on him as he realized Jesus heard his request when He wasn’t even seemly present. Jesus lovingly honored Thomas’ request (in spite of the sarcasm) in order to help him believe. Jesus helped move Thomas’ unbelief to awe-struck belief. He is constantly moving us towards trust so we can learn to rest in Him in this lost and chaotic world.
Jesus knows all of us with this kind of personal intimacy.
And He loves us so.
Jesus, You speak beautiful words of peace to me too.
Layer by layer.
Piece by piece.
Day by day.
You bring me peace.
Your peace replaces
My confusion My hurt My fear My doubts.
Through the locked doors of self-protection
You come to me, personally and you You tell me
over and over again,
with patience, persistence, and love
Peace be with you.
I am your Risen Lord and I am with you.
Thank you Lord. You have broken in.
The Kingdom of God is among us.
In considering the peace that comes from the ever dawning realization, God knows you and loves you, you might want to unlock the door of your heart and pray your way through Psalm 139:1-12. I pray the reality of God’s personal and intimate knowing – Presence with you – brings you peace today.
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and You know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness You follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.
With Your hand of love upon my life,
You impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.
Where could I go from Your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from Your face?
If I go up to heaven, You’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, You’re there too!
If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, You’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, You’re there waiting!
Wherever I go, Your hand will guide me;
Your strength will empower me.
It’s impossible to disappear from You
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for Your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
There is no such thing as darkness with You.
The night, to You, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.
Psalm 139:1-12 The Passion Translation