Summary: Christ reaches out to us to overcome our fears and doubts.

Little Johnny was in the kitchen helping his mother make supper. She asked him to go into the pantry & get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go alone. "It’s dark in there & I’m scared." She asked again, & he persisted. Finally she said, "It’s OK. Jesus will be in there w. you." Johnny walked hesitantly to the door, slowly opened it, peeked inside, saw it was dark, & started to leave when an idea came to mind, & he said: "Jesus, if you’re in there, would you mind handing me that can of tomato soup?"

All of us in this sanctuary this morning, despite how much we might deny it, have experi-enced fear in some form or another. We know that fear is a paralyzing emotion that can stop us dead in our tracks, preventing us from accomplishing some activity. I know people who are so afraid of being rejected, of having someone say “no” that they’ll attempt to do everything themselves instead of “risking” having someone turn them down.

Others, out of fear of failure, won’t take the steps necessary to succeed. They’d prefer to just sit back & let the world pass them by…like the farmer who was sitting on the front porch of his shack one July day smoking his corncob pipe when a stranger came long who asked, “How’s your cotton coming?”

“Ain’t got none,” was the answer. “Didn’t plant none. ‘Fraid of the boll weevil.”

“Well, how’s your corn?” asked the stranger.

“Didn’t plant none. ‘Fraid of droughth.”

“How about your potatoes?”

“Ain’t got none. ‘Scairt of tater bugs.”

The stranger finally asked, “Well, what did you plant?”

“Nothin’,” replied the farmer. “I just played it safe.”

Needless to say, he probably didn’t remain a farmer very long.

The disciples were “‘scairt,” too, &, for the moment, were satisfied to just play it safe. Many of them had chosen to run away, even as their friend was murdered in a horrific fashion. Could they have done something? Who knows? But they had chosen to play it safe & do nothing.

Now, these scared individuals silently gathered once again into the upper room where they had shared a final meal, the pungent scent faintly lingering. Terrified to leave it for fear of the consequences, the pain & wretchedness was evident in their faces & their behavior. Some stood by themselves, visibly shaken & pre-occupied w/ their thoughts. Others gathered in small groups but didn’t exchange many words He was the chosen one, the “Son of God.” If this could happen to him what would prevent it from happening to them. Peter & John sat off by themselves. They had told the others what they had seen…an empty tomb…but even to them it now seemed so unbelievable.

Because of the empty tomb, it might seem surprising to us that the disciples are afraid. Af-ter all, Peter & John have seen it & Mary Magdalene has even spoken w/ the risen Christ & told the others of her experience. But fear does strange things. They were traumatized by the cruci-fixion & afraid for their lives…a spiritual darkness surrounds them, causing them to doubt what they’ve seen & heard. It overshadows their souls even more so than the darkness that covered the land prior to Jesus’ death. It crushes their spirit, replacing their hope for a bright future w/ despair. Regardless of what they’d seen, they can’t believe their eyes. After all, sometimes our eyes can deceive us.

Harriet, the church gossip and self-appointed supervisor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several were unappreciative of her activi-ties, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck parked all afternoon in front of the town’s only bar. She commented to George & others that anyone seeing it there would know that he was an alcoholic.

George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment & walked away. He said nothing. Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Harriet’s house and left it there all night.

The disciples knew sometimes sight is not the best sense to use in determining what is real & what is not…they can mislead us, like George & Harriet. On the other hand, something may

not be seen at all, let’s say your breath, but be very real. That’s where faith comes in.

What the disciples saw at the tomb defied explanation, causing them to doubt what they saw, but they were about to have a faith changing experience.

Suddenly, a breath of fresh air fills the room as the light & life of Jesus Christ breaks thru their darkness. He stands before them & says: “Shalom” or in English, “Peace be with you.”

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