So much had happened in just a few days to the devoted friends and disciples of Jesus. Could it have been such a short time since they felt the jubilation of the Passover crowds cheering for Jesus as He entered Jerusalem? With each shout of approval, it had seemed like the cheers were also meant for them.
And now they didn’t know what to think. The One they believed was from God had been arrested, tortured, publicly humiliated, and executed. Only the strongest of believers could hold on to their hope and belief that Jesus was their rescuer after those gruesome, frightening, crushing hours. This was not the first time they had faced the fact that following Jesus was different from what they had first believed it would be. But this was without a doubt the most troubling and traumatic of those times.
Hours lengthened into days as they mulled over the hatred of the crowd, Jesus’ death, and the fact that He was gone from them. Confused and scared, they wondered if they were next in this manhunt.
Scenes of their time together with Jesus played again and again in their thoughts as they tried to make sense of it all. Adding to their confusion was Mary, John, and Peter’s insistence that Jesus was alive. It was a muddle to their exhausted minds and bodies.
For now, they “were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders” (John 20:19). They knew a locked door would not keep them safe from those intent on destroying them, but it made them feel a little bit more secure at a time when security was in short supply. That locked door represented their attempt to have some control over their destiny if those they feared pursued them, but it also represented the wall they had built between themselves and everyone else in Jerusalem.
They were indeed correct to think that someone was pursuing them, but to their real pursuer the locked door was of no importance. “Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! ‘Peace be with you,’ he said” (John 20:19). Jesus had broken through their feeble defenses, and their useless attempt at control. And He did it in an amazing, unexpected way. As He often had done, Jesus went right to the heart of their situation. With their previous beliefs now in question, their hopes shattered, and future unsure, Jesus spoke of the peace available through Him for their minds, souls, and bodies.
Jesus understood that all they had based their lives and futures on had been shaken by the events of the past few days, so “he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his side” (John 20:20). He was real; He was alive; His promises could be counted on! As that reality sank in, “They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord!” (John 20:20).
But so much had happened, so much remained confusing, and so much was still unknown that their doubts wrestled with their joy as they stood together in that room. Jesus understood and “spoke to them again and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (John 20:21).
They needed not only peace but refocusing. Standing among them, Jesus gave them that refocus, saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). Images of Jesus’ ministry—to them and to others—flashed across their minds, and they knew what they were being sent to do. It was time to come out from behind those locked doors. There was an entire world that needed to know what they knew and have what they had.
Jesus knew they could not do this without help. “Then he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). And with that breath there was renewed strength, courage, and wisdom. There was an assurance for that day and all future days. There was empowerment to carry out the great work they were being sent to do.
And so it can be with us. It starts with our belief in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. That belief moves us to trust Him for everything we need and gets us out from behind our locked doors.
© 2010 Arlina Yates