April 7th – John 20:19-31
Early on that first Easter morning, the Risen Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Mary showed great courage and faith by going to the cemetery while it was still dark. It is only right that her faith was rewarded with a vision of her Risen Lord. In this passage Jesus appears again but this time it is to the rest of the disciples – the ones who betrayed him, the ones who were too fearful to go to the tomb during the daylight much less at night. John describes them as hiding in fear behind locked doors. It is here the Risen Christ appears to them.
The disciples were living in fear. They were afraid that the authorities who arrested and crucified Jesus would do the same to them. Their fear was understandable. The Roman solders were armed and dangerous, and violence was how they maintained their authority in Judea. And yet, it was in the upper room that these very disciples assured Jesus they would never desert him no matter what, but when the going got tough, they quickly fled into the night.
Maybe they were not only afraid of the Romans, but, perhaps, also of the rumors that were circulating about Jesus having been raised from the dead. What if Mary Magdalene and the other women were right? What if Jesus was still alive? If so, that explains why Jesus, who now appears to them behind their locked doors, greets them with, “Peace!” The disciples were in fear because the Lord they loved was also the One they had betrayed.
The Risen Christ does not condemn these guilt ridden disciples for their lack of faith or courage, but forgives them – just like He did for those who crucified Him. Jesus breathes his Holy Spirit upon them but not before He first pronounces, “Peace” and forgives them.
Easter is not only about Christ’s victory over sin and death; it is also about His forgiveness. Thanks be to God!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, though we fail you time and time again, you do not fail us. You come to us as we are; you forgive us for who we are; and you send us forth as your disciples through the power of your Holy Spirit. For the gift of forgiveness and new life, we give you our thanks and praise. Amen.