Summary: The fearful disciples were assured of Jesus' peace when he visited them in a house that was securely locked because of their fear of the Jewish leaders.
In the Name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit- amen
Last week we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We may tend to get the notion that all that happened that day was ‘up from the grave He arose’ and the visit to the tomb by some brave women and few men of valour. We often hear of this scene of the resurrection story on Easter Day and nothing more.
But that was not all that happened on Easter Day. As usual, Jesus had always been busy. On that very first day of his resurrection, he had a busy itinerary. He was out there at dawn and at his grave side (the tomb) to assure the brave women, that he was alive. At dusk, he was in a room packed with discouraged, disappointed, hopeless and fearful disciples behind lock and key ‘for fear of the Jews’. People whose hopes were high approximately a week ago, who saw their dreams coming to fruition- dreams of becoming great guys in the society. The day they saw Jesus riding on a donkey to Jerusalem, with throngs of people round him chanting ‘Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord’; they thought that alas they were are going to be great guys for the public had shown great support for their boss. For opinion poll had swayed in favour of their boss. Only for their boss to succumb to the cries of the crowd- ‘crucify him’ instead of fighting back with his billion of angels at his behest. Therefore they preferred to withdraw to a room away from the public, for they didn’t know what next and who next. The future seemed bleak for them. It was in this state and condition that Jesus visited them and assured them of his peace.
This is what the first part of the Gospel reading for today (John chapter 20 verses 19 to the end) is all about and that is what I want to major on this morning (with an emphasis on verse 19) as we look at two things this morning- fear and peace.
A FOCUS ON VERSE 19
Verse 19 tells us.... (read it)
The Greek word used for fear in this text is ‘φόβος’, when transliterated it is phobos. It is from this we have the English word ‘phobia’. Phobos means (among other things) fear, alarm, terror, fleeing, withdrawing because of inadequate resources, etc.
Therefore we see these disciples, fleeing and withdrawn from the public because of the Jewish leaders. They saw their situation as lacking adequate resources to face the Jewish leaders.
In their perceived state and condition, Jesus appeared and assured them of His peace- ‘εἰρήνη’. When transliterated it is ‘eiréné’ (pronounced- i-ray'-nay). This means peace of mind and wholeness.
Each of the fearful disciples (who saw their dreams or aspirations of being somebody great in their society not coming to actualization) needed Jesus’ peace. In their minds, they saw their lives being shattered and in pieces. Jesus therefore came to them and offered them peace in place of pieces. He assured them of wholeness instead of bits and pieces.
Therefore what can we learn from this? The disciples had withdrawn because of fear of the Jewish authorities. They saw their lives in pieces and Jesus came and assured them of his peace- wholeness.
We too like the disciples, could be in a state of fear and withdrawn from others because of certain conditions one may be facing. The element of fear may be as a result medical concerns, financial issues, job situation, problems with the children or child in terms of their behaviours or it may be the behaviour of your partner or spouse and/or a friend. These conditions, situations, issues or problems may have put your life in pieces and a feeling of isolation.
On this first day of May, I bring you great tidings of great joy- Jesus is assuring you of peace, wholeness; in your current situation of fear.
The message I want you to go home with on this first day of the fifth month is- all is not lost- he will raise you from zero to hero, from nothing to something and because ‘he lives all fear is gone’; since ‘he holds [the] future and ‘life [should be] worth the living because he lives’.
Perhaps your problem or situation may seem acute or chronic and perhaps you may be about to give up. May be in the morning, the problem is still there and in the afternoon, it still persists. But watch out, it was in the evening- ‘ὄψιος’ (transliterated ‘opsios’ and pronounced op'-see-os, in Greek) that Jesus visited these withdrawn and fearful disciples. ‘Opsios’ op'-see-os connotes the meaning of late. Perhaps they may have locked themselves in that room for hours. It was rather late when Jesus visited them and gave them His peace.