On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, m“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
There I was almost 18 years ago now, behind a door that was closed from the world. No not a literal door. Here’s what happened, I had fallen 20 feet from a cat walk in Thornburg, VA. The day had started as if all was normal, I was learning the HVAC trade business, so I was a helper. As the lead tech and I were installing the diffusers for the air conditioning unit twenty feet in the air there was a nest of bees that I was not aware of. I stepped back to the catwalk that had no railing and down I went. My coworker took me to the nearest town to dial for help and then to the nearest hospital. I was forced into a situation in which I did not see the blessing of being alive. The event so traumatic, the recovery so bleek, that I closed myself off from joy, I closed the door between me and the world. I let this accident get to me in my mind. I didn't even see the joy of seeing my family. So, what did I do? I shut the door to my heart and dwelt in my pity. Even though my wife, family, friends and even people that I had not seen for a while came to visit me at the hospital. Still my door was closed. Why? How? When? I could have? I should have? “What did I do wrong?” was the conversation that I was having in my closed-door session?
Maybe these were the same thoughts that the disciples were having, as we find them today sitting behind a literal closed and locked door. Should they have done more? Could they have saved him? Are they the ones in danger now? Do the Pharisees want them dead? Do the Romans want them dead?
The time had come and past, Jesus had died. Their master was no longer with them physically, it did not seem real. Still the door was closed. Still the fear, the doubt, and the guilt remained. They put themselves in a situation when everything is slows down, and it just seems that this might be the new normal, here behind the door in hiding, it could last for a minute or two or three or more or forever.
For these disciples, and for any of us, when we are behind that door, now we second guess our every move, our every thought, our every emotion, every word and every decision. It becomes a game of defense only, where “you don’t dare to cross that line, you don’t dare open the door, or else”. We become a recluse, backing away from everything and everyone because I tried and tried and tried some more, but there behind the door hiding from the world, hiding in fear, or guilt, or shame. Nothing is making sense anymore. The disciples should have been joyful. They should have unlocked the door and felt the sunshine. Just a few verses back, this lady name Mary Magdalene did tell them that the Lord had risen, yet that did not sink in. Could it be true? Really true? Are they safe...really? In our Gospel reading we find, the disciples desperately needing direction and advice, but now there is no one to counsel them like their Master used to do. They were not only hiding in fear behind the door, they did not know where to turn for advice without Jesus. It was not an easy moment for them, the romans and the Jews might be looking for them and the same fate that met Jesus, could happen to them, as well.
They had closed the door to the world, maybe you, or I would have reacted the same way. But this is where they felt more secure because of the circumstance forced them. John does not give us their feelings in detail, but we can say that they were sad, scared, lonely, and probably filled with doubt. I mean doubting the whole story of Jesus, and everything that they had seen and been taught. Well it is only human to feel that, sitting there filled with emotion behind the door. How many of us have been in a moment in our lifetime when we are forced to shut the door and just lock it up. Or you might be going through that moment now? The moment when we say, “I’m scared and I don’t know if I can open the door”.
So, Jesus being Jesus decides to pay a visit, like none other. Almost as if he was having a little bit of fun with them. This is what Jesus does, not knock but just show up in the middle of the meeting that they were having, or more like the somber meeting. Jesus decides to do that what he has always done, that is to be with them especially when they need him the most. When Jesus arrives, He does not ask “why have you closed the door?”, or “why is it so muggy in here?”, or “why you in are the dark?”. He does not teach them in parables. He simply says, “Peace be with you”. and everything changes. You can almost hear the door unlatch and creek open. But this is not just any peace, but peace with God, peace in your conscience, peace with one another, peace to calm fears, peace of confidence in forgiveness, peace so complete that maybe, just maybe we can open the door and head out into the world with the peace of Christ with us. Not peace with the world, but peace in Christ. This peace that is golden and pure, even when all seems lost or at disarray, this is the peace that can bring hope and confidence into anything that we encounter in the world. The peace that will bring stillness and will let you understand that, that you can’t control.
When I was checked into the hospital because of my fall, I thought this would be over at any minute. I wanted to get out right away. Well one day became two days and two days became one week. During the first three days it was crucial because the doctor seemed to me, real eager to let me know that I was in a bad condition and that I was not going to make it. So, in my mind I creeped deeper into the fear and defeat that closed me behind the door. I tried to find peace. I tried to tell myself, “ok this is my time then. It was good, if I have to go I have to go.” I remember it was the fourth day that the doctor came in to repeat the same thing, that I might not make it. Well yours truly was fed up with it, and I just push the little medicine button and I went to sleep. After I woke up it was the middle of the night, again my thoughts creeped in and started to bother me. But this time it was different, I felt someone say out of nowhere, “you are going to be fine”. No, it was not the meds. I grabbed those words and ran with it. I had found peace in the Lord. I prayed and said to the Lord, I am yours, my wife and my daughter are yours, I will not worry. I slept peacefully. This was the moment in my story, of when Jesus comes in and does what Jesus does. Jesus did what he did for the disciples today. Jesus brought peace into a place the world could never deliver. Jesus does the same thing for every one of us. Jesus reaches into our lives at our worst moments, even when we lock the doors of our hearts and minds from the world, and Jesus does what seems impossible. Jesus looks into our eyes and says, “Peace to you”. Amen
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.