John 20: 19-31
2nd Sunday of Easter, Year C
What Locks You In?
Who do you most want with you when things are going south, when all you can do is huddle behind a locked door? For the disciples, I’m betting the person they most wanted to see was Jesus. But Jesus was gone, gone for good they thought, and so they huddled together in the upper room, frightened and unsure, not knowing what to do next. And then Jesus appeared. Because that’s what Jesus does. He comes when we’re frightened.
He didn’t say everything was going to be okay or that His followers would have an easy life. What He said was, “Peace be with you” (v. 19). Would you rather have eternal peace in the midst of the chaos of life or one tough situation solved? On a day-by-day basis, I’d probably choose the solution of a tough situation. But, Jesus doesn’t go day-by-day. Jesus does eternal.
What Jesus gives us, just as He gave the disciples that day, was His breath, His very life. When “He breathed on them” (v. 22), He gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, the way to an everlasting peace. He gave the disciples, and therefore us, the gift of His presence right here and right now, on an everlasting, day-to-day basis.
Jesus also issues a challenge. Now that He’s equipped the disciples, He knows they have what they need to go out in His name. So He sends them forth. Just like He sends us forth. We don’t have to light the world on fire, but we do have to put ourselves out there. That’s all Jesus asks of us, to go forth in His name. He will take care of the rest.
Well, actually, Jesus does ask one more thing. When we’re out there in His name, He challenges us to forgive. Those whom we forgive will be forgiven. That might be the hardest thing. To forgive and to let go. It doesn’t mean being a doormat. Jesus certainly wasn’t. But it does mean respecting each other, and our opposing points of view and vast array of sins, as children God loves, as people who are also out there in His name. It doesn’t necessarily mean losing our point of view or our morals, but it does mean listening with real respect.
And then Jesus shows Thomas His wounds, lets Thomas touch His gaping skin. Thomas needed to see to believe. To be honest, I probably would have too—still do. It’s a lot easier to believe the impossible when God’s grace is right in front of me. So Jesus meets Thomas where Thomas is and gives him concrete proof. He gives us all concrete proof every day. It’s all around us. Look around with the disciples’ eyes—no longer frightened but empowered by the Holy Spirit. Empowered by the presence of the One they had prayed to when they were locked away.
We can do the same, burst through the locks on our doors empowered by the Holy Spirit, empowered by Jesus. What locks you in? What keeps you from going forth? If it’s concrete proof, look around you. Do you see? Jesus is right here with us, right now. It’s not going to be easy, but He’s sent us out. Peace be with you.