Reading John Chapter 20, the story of Jesus, risen from death, appearing to the disciples, I was thinking about how frightened those men were for their lives, to the point that they were hiding behind locked doors. It struck me that in the midst of the corona virus that’s brought so much uncertainty, loneliness, anxiety and grief, there are many people in the world today, troubled and afraid and hidden behind closed doors. So much so, that governments are concerned about the huge spike in mental health issues and looking for answers to try and help.
But we’re told that right into the midst of the disciples’ anxious fear, ‘Jesus came and stood among them.’ How comforting that He didn’t wait for them to get their act together, to try and somehow muster up faith and overcome fear themselves. Their fear wasn’t a blockage to Jesus any more than the locked doors! Right into the midst of their anxiety, as their friend not their judge, ‘Jesus came and stood among them.’
And He came with exactly what they needed more than anything else at that moment. He said, ‘Peace be with you.’ He gave them the gift of His peace. Not a fluffy peace. Not false peace. Not something we can somehow drum up ourselves. The peace Jesus gives, was won for us when He died on the cross, ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus offers the precious gift of His peace, not just to the disciples, but to us all, but like any gift, it has to be received. And really, it’s about receiving Jesus Himself, for ‘Christ is our peace’ (Ephesians 2:14). We can receive Jesus into our lives, with the forgiveness, cleansing and healing He won at such cost for us at Calvary … or reject Him. And we can receive Him into the fears, worries and anxiety we may be hiding (and perhaps even nurturing) behind closed doors … or reject Him.
Maybe we have financial worries, fears of the unknown, of the future, of getting sick or dying, or other worries and anxiety about things that perhaps no-one else knows about. Sometimes, as Christians, we can feel ashamed to admit to fear or anxiety, and the door we’ve closed is a door of shame. But, just as the locked doors were no barrier to Jesus coming to the disciples, neither is a door of shame or any other kind of door. Jesus doesn’t keep His distance. He doesn’t tut and disapprove. He sees, He knows and He understands, and He can reach us where no-one else can, and He comes lovingly with His comfort right into the midst of where we’re at, to help us, ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you’ (Isaiah 41:10).
Perhaps this time of enforced isolation - when the busyness of life is suddenly halted, the familiarity of daily routine thrown out, the security of financial well-being threatened and there’s perhaps a feeling of it all spiralling out of control - is a time for us to allow Jesus to show us if we have closed doors on worries, fears and anxieties, and to invite Him in. He has the answers to our deepest concerns, He knows them all and wants to come with exactly what He knows we need, to reassure us that He is in control and we can trust Him. As the old hymn says, to ‘calm the troubled breast’ with the relief and comfort of His blessed peace.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the encouragement that Your Word is to me. Thank You that You understood the disciples’ fear and came to them with exactly what they needed. And that’s Your heart for me too. I am sorry that I have closed areas of my life to You: worries and concerns, fears and anxieties. Please show me any doors I have closed and help me to let You in. I want to receive the comfort of Your presence and the heart knowledge that my life and all my concerns are truly safe in Your hands. In Your precious name, Amen.
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