Behind locked doors
Text study on John 20:19-31 Lectionary text for May 1, 2011
It’s the Sunday after Easter, and the crowd is gone, the lilies are fading and the atmosphere is more relaxed. The Easter story continues even without the drama of an empty tomb or a woman crying out "I have seen the Lord!"
In the Gospel of John, the disciples were so scared they locked themselves in an upper room. They were freaked out. Their leader, the one who they had begun to believe in as Lord, had been brutally killed.
They were left without a guide, without the Shepherd, without the person of whom they had always been able to ask tough questions. Until they saw Jesus with their own eyes, they were going to stay put.
The doors were locked because of the disciples’ fear. Into this locked room, the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples. This only added to their fears. Jesus was dead, they had seen it with their own eyes. They panicked.
The first thing Jesus addressed was their fear. Jesus came and stood among them. "Peace be with you," he said. …Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you."
We live in a world that causes fear in our hearts: the worries of the ages -- health, grief, broken relationships; the worries of this century -- war, terror, the Great Recession; the worries of this day -- from oil spills a year ago to earthquakes and radiation scares of the last few months. Any of which could make us want to hide behind locked doors.
And yet in each of our lives, in every case, in every moment, our God appears to us as one who offers us peace. Just as Jesus came to the fear-filled disciples through locked doors, he comes to us when we are filled with fear and the first thing he says to us is, "Peace be with you!"
Jesus is bigger and stronger than either our hopes or our fears. He is present among us as surely and as fully as he was with the disciples in the locked room on that first Easter. He frees us from our fears speaking his peace into our hearts, forgiving our sins, turning our sorrow into gladness and blessing us.
And the peace that Jesus gives isn’t just for our private use. Jesus goes on to say, "As the Father sent me, so I send you." The peace the risen Savior gives is to be shared, passed on to those around us who may also be paralyzed by fear.
• What is causing fear in your heart (making you want to hide behind locked doors)?
• How or through whom is Jesus offering words of peace to you this very day?
• With whom or where are you being sent to share this word and gift of peace?
Michael A. Dubsky is executive director of the Lutheran Home and Hospital Foundation, Inc. in Baltimore -- a foundation that gives out grants supporting health and wellness ministries -- and has served for 10 years as pastor of St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. He and his wife, Kristin -- also an ELCA pastor -- are the parents of two beautiful children, Sarah and Joseph.