1. I felt that God had gone away. I felt little hope and the joy of ministry had disappeared. I no longer had the desire, the mission to bring the good news that had motivated me into ministry. It was a dark time, one of the worst times of my life.
2. Do you know what I am talking about? Have you ever felt that God was so far away that you wondered if He existed at all? You wondered if the hope and faith you had was all a mistake? Those around you in church seemed to be singing with joy but you did not share in the joy they felt? Others told you that God was there, but you wanted to experience Him for yourself? To see His presence.
3. Perhaps you were filled with fear. Fear of what you had done in the past - that which may have made God leave you. Fear of circumstances that were pressing down on you with a weight you could not bear. Fear of life and that which lay ahead. Perhaps you locked the door - to your house or room. Perhaps you locked the door to your heart. To stay behind the protection of the door so no one can get in and hurt you again.
4. These are the feelings that the disciples may have been struggling with on that first Easter Day. Their Lord had been crucified. Their ministry had been stopped. They had heard from some of the women and from the two who had gone to Emmaus, that Jesus was alive. But was this real, was it just something they imagined?
1. It was late in the day. It was evening. And they had not seen Jesus. They were afraid - perhaps of the Jewish leaders who might also have them killed. Perhaps even of Jesus. How we he respond to them? They had run away from Him in the hour of His greatest need. And could Peter face the one whom he had denied three times?
2. They had locked the door. Perhaps locked to the Jewish leaders, perhaps to Christ and perhaps even to keep out any hope that might end up disappointing them.
3. It is in this dark time, that Jesus comes to them. And He comes to us in our dark times as well. But we must see Him and listen to Him to receive that which He offers to us.
4. As believers, we know that He is always there.
Deu 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
5. Jesus came to them. Some wonder how Jesus went through the locked door. Others says He was with them all this time, but He revealed Himself in a way they could see Him. Spiritually He had been there but now he showed His resurrected body to them.
6. Jesus comes to us in our times of despair. And He says to us the same things He said to the disciples. Hear what the risen Lord says to you today.
7. The first thing Jesus says to the is "Peace be with you!" He says this twice. He had said this to the disciples when He last saw them before He was crucified. Jesus says to us "Peace be with you!"
8. As we said, the disciples may have wondered how Jesus would react because they had deserted him. Years ago I felt deserted by all my friends over an issue we were dealing with. The next day some of them came to apologize and say they had been wrong. They had been afraid to stand up for what they believed. To be honest I found it hard to accept their apology right away. I kept my mouth closed but there were a number of things I wanted to say. The last thing I wanted to say is "Peace be with you!"