We’ve locked the doors and sat around our own tables, fearful, haven’t we?
Will our neighborhood ever feel safe again?
Will the storm knock out the power?
Will the Soviets attack and invade and change our way of life?
I’m old enough to remember the 1980s, “Red Dawn” version of that last fear, the one that had people in my house reading books about living off the grid, my excuse for buying copies of all my favorite children’s books so my children (some merely speculative at that time) could read the classics when the libraries were turned into God-knows-what.
Anxiety gets us worked up enough; when there’s a good reason to be afraid, for real, our brain chemistry can rearrange our judgment.
It had to be that way in the house where the disciples locked the doors. According to John’s gospel, Jesus drew attention and trouble from the beginning of his ministry. Their Jesus waltzed into the Temple in Chapter Two and laid it down. When he returned later, he vanished his way to safety, inspiring murderous rage in the religious leaders.
The disciples knew it. They felt it. Jesus was dead, but things were no better.
They locked the doors.
But someone went out to get news and supplies. Someone had to do it, like my wife making the last trip to the Giant in the freezing rain a few weeks ago. Better get it done.
Since someone particular missed the visit from Reappearing Jesus, no more restrained by locked doors than by death, we may deduce the one who went out for whatever they needed was Thomas.
So when you go to preach this Sunday, or you sit in the pew and listen to this passage being read, remember he did more than doubt.
He offered himself up to die with Jesus. (John 11:16)
He asked the direct, even obvious, question. (John 14:5)
He left the safe house. (John 20:24)
He even risked when he expressed his doubts. Imagine how hard that must have been, in the midst of his rejoicing comrades!
Listen and read carefully. Does he ever touch the wounds? He risks one more time, declaring “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
You Won’t See Me Jesus gives him one more push; he gives it to all of us. “Believe in me,” he says, “whether I appear in body or not. That’s faith.” (John 20:29, Revised Songbird Version)
But they kept looking, and John tells us they had breakfast with him on the beach, and maybe other places, too.
In this liminal time of the Fifty Days of Easter, I’ll be looking for Him. You never know what might happen when you go out to get the paper.