Summary: There are all sorts of things around us that can put worry into our lives. Whatever it is in our lives today, God has a plan to restore our peace.
Opening and Introduction
Our Gospel lesson today starts with words that set the tone for todays’ message. It starts with, “the doors were locked for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19, ESV).
Fear is something that’s been around us for this past year as we all had to adjust to a virus run rampant across the globe. Everyone I know, adapted in some way.
Things are different today than they were before the virus. For some this is an awkward time. For some this is inconvenient time. For some, this is a scary time. Although COVID is a relatively new thing, fear is not. People fear all sorts of things.
Today, we’re going to look at the fear of the Disciples.
We’re going to look at the many struggles in life that we deal with.
And we’re going to dig into how God can grant us peace too.
Let’s start by looking at why the Disciples were so afraid.
These eleven men were a close band of brothers. Each chosen by Jesus Himself. They were chosen from some of the humblest of lifestyles.
Andrew, Peter, James and John were all fishermen. But, Matthew… he was a hated tax collector and an outcast of society. His profession had the reputation of stealing and cheating fellow Israelites by abusing power… and taking more taxes than were owed.
Yet here, even the Tax Collector found acceptance into the inner circle of Jesus’ followers, and found a home in the company of men would become an extended family.
They bound together and shared what they had, sometimes living off the land, and sometimes living through others’ hospitality.
They faced problems together, followed their teacher together, witnessed miracles together, including Jesus’ healing the sick and raising the dead.
When Jesus was arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, they even felt fear together.
Fear overtook them as they scattered away from the threat of imprisonment. And that fear continued up to the crucifixion. Scripture only mentions the disciple John at the foot of the cross. The others likely watched from a distance.
Fear remained after Jesus’ death, and they came back together, locked in a room, still fearful of the world outside their door.
For these eleven remaining disciples, life was torn upside-down. They lost their leader, lost their teacher, lost their friend. And yet, the same forces that threated Jesus, threaten them too. Where they scattered in fear just a few nights ago, they clung together in fear tonight. Door closed. Door locked. Protected for the moment, from anything getting in.
Challenges Around Us
In some ways, we might be like the disciples. We might cling tight to a few close friends and family, while we lock the dangers of the world out. For many, a wrench has been thrown into a life they were just getting through.
For the past year, there have been an untold number of wrenches out there. Many have been hit with problems they didn’t see coming. Some of these problems have been around us for well over a year now.
We might not struggle in the same way the Disciples did. But we still have our own problems that we face. What difficulties are you facing today?
The Disciple Thomas faced a problem of belief. When he doubted, he was able to talk openly and freely, with 10 of his most trusted friends. He was able to express his uncertainty.
Then Jesus showed up in a way he never expected, and tried to put him at ease by saying “Peace be with you,” (v26) Jesus gave Thomas exactly what He needed. He showed him that He was still alive, that He was still there for Thomas, that His words were still true… and that nothing would stop Jesus from doing anything that He said He would do.
Thomas felt that PEACE and showed his understanding when he said, “My Lord and My God!” (v28) Sometimes it takes difficult situations to convince us that God is near us.
Like Thomas, God gives us what we need too. We might have days where things don’t go the way we plan. Things might happen that don’t make any sense. Together, they can fill us with worry, concern, anxiety, and perhaps even a little bit of fear.
Gaining Peace, Even in Turmoil
In the time that we have remaining, I’d like to look at three ways that God treats us like Thomas, eases our troubles, and bestows us, with the PEACE that we need.
First, God gives us peace by talking with us. He can speak to us in common and ordinary ways that we might not always recognize.
Sometimes, God puts people in our lives to support us, to influence us, and perhaps keep us from falling astray of His Word.