‘When it was evening on that day….and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said,
“Peace be with you.”’ From John 20:19-31.
‘Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.’ Martin Luther.
Today is traditionally called Low Sunday after the high point of the Easter celebrations. But, for the first disciples, the time now called Easter Day was itself a low point as they huddled in the place where they had gathered and locked themselves in out of fear. John’s Gospel tells us that they were afraid of the Jews but, being Jews themselves, it’s more likely that it was the religious leaders themselves that they feared. Being followers of Jesus, and believing him to be dead and buried since the events of Good Friday, they would presumably think that his associates would also be sought and that they might be in danger too. It’s also possible that, having betrayed and deserted him, they might be afraid of Jesus himself. So, out of fear they hide away – but no locked doors suffice!
For Jesus meets them in that place of fear, grief and uncertainty, standing with them and telling them to be at peace. He shows them the wounds of his crucifixion that he carries in his resurrected body so that they know it really is him, so great is their fear – understandably. From the perspective of two thousand years later, we know the story but those first disciples had to wrestle with the astonishment of what was happening as events unfolded and the leader they had thought dead now stood before them.
Easter is a season and not just a day – Eastertide lasts until Ascension Day and is a reminder of the events and circumstances facing those first disciples as they took time to come to terms with what was happening. From Good Friday until Easter Sunday, the time of waiting meant that it must have seemed to those frightened disciples that the death of Jesus had prevailed – and yet it was not so, despite the views of Doubting Thomas!
Today, with so much happening instantly due to such speedy communication in so many forms, perhaps a time of waiting is hard to accept and, when it ends, there may then be events unfolding that are hard to believe. Into it all, the voice of the risen Christ breathes words of peace and hope, with no recrimination despite what had happened.
Like those first disciples, perhaps we sometimes prefer to hide away or to let fear and guilt prevail – yet Jesus declares, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Sinful humanity is commissioned to continue the legacy of resurrection in the world today as then – how astounding is that as Eastertide continues to shows fresh revelations of God’s love at work, in creation as Martin Luther suggested as well as in books. And, if there’s something that’s hard to believe or come to terms with: is it just possible it’s actually true?!
With my prayers; pob bendith,