John 20:19–22: “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."
For the past few weeks, our entire world has been navigating the bizarre, challenging, and even painful experience of life in a global pandemic. As phrases like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” seem to dominate our conversations, many of us are adjusting to spending more time than we’ve ever desired within the four walls of our homes.
If you’re like me, maybe you’re anticipating that Easter weekend will make for an even more difficult experience of self-isolation. At a time when we should be celebrating in our local churches and gathering with family and friends, instead we find ourselves stuck at home as uncertainty and chaos seem to fill the world around us. It goes without saying that, this year, our experience of Easter will be very different than what many of us are used to.
But what if we recognized the way these circumstances provide us with a unique opportunity to share in the disciples’ experience on the very first Easter Sunday?
Having just witnessed the brutal execution of their master and friend, the disciples were hiding behind locked doors for fear of suffering a similar fate. Did you catch that? The disciples were locked inside with the threat of death looming beyond their door––sound familiar? Notice that it’s in this context that the risen Jesus came and stood among them saying, “Peace be with you.”
Although we find ourselves stuck at home under very different circumstances today, isn’t it true that there has often been a palpable fear behind even the wise measures we have been exhorted to take in recent days. Maybe you’ve likewise found yourself feeling threatened or afraid as you sit at home knowing that somewhere out there is a deadly virus that has the capacity to affect you or the people you love.
As we prepare to celebrate Easter, can I encourage you that Jesus is no less hindered by locked doors and the threat of death today as he was on the day that he rose from the grave and appeared to his disciples. Rather, let it be our expectation this Easter that Jesus will likewise manifest his presence in our homes and say to us, “Peace be with you.”
And may our response to Jesus’ presence be like that of disciples who, as John says, “were glad when they saw the Lord.” Consider that in just the previous verse, the disciples were described as being afraid for fear of the Jews, and now, upon encountering the risen Christ, they are filled with joy. This Easter, as we take time to direct our hearts and minds towards the reality that Jesus defeated death in resurrection, may we move from the fear of uncertainty, illness, and death to the definite joy of knowing that Jesus is alive.
Notice that in verse 21 Jesus again says to his disciples, “Peace be with you,” this time adding, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Let’s not miss this: the peace that Jesus brings us this Easter is both comforting and commissioning. To experience the peace and joy of Christ’s resurrection is to not only be personally comforted but to be commissioned by Jesus to make that comfort known to others.
To whom is Jesus sending you this Easter? What family member, friend, or neighbour do you know that needs to experience the peace and joy that are found in Christ? While we may not be able to leave our homes or physically meet with others we are no less sent in this season. Perhaps this Easter is the perfect occasion to pick up the phone or jump on a video call and tell someone the reason for the hope we have within us.
And to that end, how might we invest the time we have at home towards the powerful work of prayer? What if each of us asked Jesus to supernaturally manifest his presence in the homes of those around us this Easter, even behind locked doors?
However you might celebrate this Easter weekend, know this beloved: Christ is risen and he has promised that one day, we will rise with him. Until then, may the presence of Jesus fill your homes with peace and joy and may you be sent to announce the good news of his resurrection.