June 8, 2020
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
For the disciples, their fear of the Jewish leaders was not in any way overblown or illogical. Jesus, their rabbi and friend, the leader of their movement, had just been crucified. The religious and political powers in Israel had just proven that Jesus and his followers were targets — and getting caught could mean death. Real fear made perfect sense.
We have much to fear today. My brother and his family live in Chicago. When we spoke on the phone last week, he said their neighborhood is filled with sirens and gunfire almost every night. Stores just a few streets over are being ransacked and burned. We have a close friend, a nurse, who was sick with COVID-19 for weeks — unable to breathe and quarantined from her husband and daughters. She described it as the sickest she has ever been. Unemployment is hitting record highs, and we know people who are struggling to pay their bills and wondering whether their businesses will ever recover from the economic slowdown. Like the disciples, danger feels very, very close. Fear makes sense.
What brings me to tears as I read this passage is Jesus’s response to the disciples’ (and our) fear. He came and stood among them. Quite honestly, I could write pages about the significance of these six words. We could talk about how Jesus didn’t wait for the disciples to “get over” their fear before he drew near. We could talk about how he didn’t alter their circumstances. We could talk about his supernatural ability to break through their walls of protection. We could talk about how he is clearly not afraid.
But at the end of the day, what I need most right now is for Jesus to be near me. I need to feel like someone is bigger than the madness and injustice I see around me. That’s my prayer for you as we begin another week. I’m praying you feel Jesus standing near you and that his presence brings you comfort. Come, Lord Jesus.