What do you do, when you are feeling scared? Do you lock the doors, or double check them to make sure they are locked? Do you turn on every light in the house to make it feel safer? Do you hug your loved ones or call someone that can calm you down? What do you do when you are feeling scared?
In our gospel for today, the disciples are beyond scared. They have watched their Lord and teacher be led away to the courts. They have seen him whipped and beaten and then hung on the cross to die. They have seen him take his last breath and be placed in the tomb. And now? Now that he has gone? They are terrified. What will happen now? Jesus is dead, and what about them? Could they be next?
The gospel tells us that it was the first day of the week and the doors of the disciples house were locked for fear of the Jews. They were scared and they had gathered together. They were scared and they had locked their doors. They were scared and alone and wondering what was going to happen. And you know what? Jesus showed up. Even though he had been hung on the cross. Even though he had died and been laid in the tomb. Even though they were afraid and had barricaded their doors to keep people out, Jesus showed up among them and said “peace be with you”.
Can you imagine? How they must have felt that day? When Jesus showed up? When he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side? How must they have felt then? Do you think they were still afraid? How do you think they felt when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on each of them that was there?
And then we come to Thomas. I think Thomas gets a bad rap sometimes. He is labeled doubting Thomas, but he is the only disciple who hasn’t locked himself in the house. For whatever reason the first time that Jesus shows up, Thomas isn’t there. Maybe he isn’t as afraid as the others. Maybe he is more afraid, we don’t know. But Thomas hears about Jesus showing up and he doesn’t believe it. He wants to see Jesus in the flesh himself. He wants to put his fingers in the mark of the nails and his hand in Jesus’ side where the spear had gone. He wanted to know that the Jesus he had seen killed and buried was the same Jesus who was showing up.
So a week later they are once again all in the house. And the doors are shut. They are still scared. Still worried. Still wondering what is next. And again, Jesus shows up. He shows up and says to them again “Peace be with you”. And then he shows Thomas he has heard his request by letting Thomas touch the marks of the nails in his hands and put his hand in side. And Thomas is so excited he praises him there on the spot. “My Lord and My God!” Thomas says.
So what about us this morning? What does this text have to do with us? I mean, we weren’t there to see Jesus crucified. We weren’t there to see him laid in the tomb. But we have heard the story. We weren’t there that first Easter, but we are just like the disciples that first Easter. We are just like them with our locked doors. Now maybe, when people look at us, they see us out in the world and they think we do not fear. Maybe when people look at us they think we have it all together and life is just awesome. But really? When we are alone? When the worries crowd out the other thoughts? When the sadness and darkness seem to be winning? When we don’t know what is going to come next, and we are worried and feeling so incredibly alone? What about us?
If you hear nothing else today, hear this. When you are feeling like you are closed off to the world, and no one understand? When you are struggling with grief or depression or fear? When you have built so many walls around you it seems that no one can get close? Jesus shows up. He shows up in spite of the walls you have built. He shows us to begin taking down the walls piece by piece. He shows up to love you and bring you his peace.
He may not show up like he showed up for the disciples. You probably aren’t going to see him in his body form. But Jesus can show up through other people. He can show up through the beauty of nature. He can show up through the written word. He can show up in music.
No matter what walls we have built or how afraid we are, Jesus shows up for you and for me. He shows up and loves us in spite of our fear. He shows us and heals us of our brokenness. He shows up and brings us his peace.
And if you can cling to that belief, if you can know that God loves you enough to send his Son to die for you and he will be there when you need him? Then you can hear the promise in this text. Blessed are those, Jesus tells us who have not seen, and yet have come to believe.
That’s the good news my friends, that you are blessed by the God who loves you so much that he shows up in spite of your locked doors and he loves you through all of your fears. You are blessed by the God who sent his Son to die for you. You are blessed by that Son of God conquering death that first Easter and reminding us all that death doesn’t have the last word, life does. That hate doesn’t win, love does. And that’s a story we all can tell.
Gracious God, we are so thankful that you are able to come in past the walls we build and the doors we lock and that you show up and love us anyway. Help us this Easter season to see signs of your Son all around us. Fill us with your joy and peace, and help us to share it with others. In your heavenly name we pray, Amen.