Reflections on John 20:1-22 and the resurrection of Jesus in light of an Easter spent in lock-down.
It’s good to hear these familiar passages read to us isn’t it, it’s rather comforting in a way. At Christmas we read the story of the Nativity, at Pentecost which will be in a few weeks, we’ll be reading about the coming of the Holy Spirit, and at Easter, from Palm Sunday, right up until today, we have those readings that are so familiar to us. But there’s that phrase isn’t there that familiarity breeds contempt. And I think it’s certainly true that our familiarity with these great passages of scripture sometimes it can cause us to lose something of the wonder or the appreciation for the great truths they contain. But as we find ourselves in very unfamiliar times, I’ve found myself beginning to see passages like these in a new light.
Our discomfort and unfamiliar situation can actually have the effect of giving us a whole new appreciation or even understanding of what we’re reading as we see things through a completely different lens of our current experience.
When reading through the passage we heard read to us from Johns Gospel, I was particularly struck with last section where the risen Jesus appears to his disciples in that locked room. And naturally I suppose I felt it really resonate with me and with situation we find ourselves in.
For the Disciples, so much had changed, and in a very short space of time. In just a few days they had gone from the glory and celebration of Palm Sunday and that triumphal entry into Jerusalem with Jesus, that pinnacle of everything they believed in, to seeing him arrested, beaten, crucified and buried. And they had been scattered. An end to all their hopes and dreams. Despair, disappointment, and fear. And here they were huddled together under a self-imposed lock-down, anxious, afraid, fearing for their very lives. All hope gone. And you know perhaps we can relate to that? We just need to turn on the news or look at social media to see that same fear and anxiety in our country and community. I have felt quiet anxious about what’s happening and how it might affect those I care about and those I can’t be with.
But then Jesus comes and stands amongst them. Despite the wall that surround them, the shutters on the windows, ad locks on the doors, Jesus comes to be with them where they are. He shows the wounds that had been inflicted upon him, and says to them Peace be with you. Peace be with you. And then he says As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And I was thinking, how appropriate is that for us today. No matter where you are today, not matter who you may be feeling, in just the same way that the knowledge of Jesus resurrection brought comfort, joy and peace to those fearful and hopeless disciples so it can for us. This morning as we celebrate Easter under these challenging and difficult circumstances, we can remember the hope that comes with the resurrection of Jesus. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians “ Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”.
Jesus is present with us today. And I believe He is saying exactly the same things to us. Peace be with you. Here are the wounds that I endured for you. As the father sent me, so I am sending you. Let us be reminded of those words over the coming weeks and take them with us through this time of lock-down. Let us look for ways How can we live for Christ in ways that show his love, his light and his peace to others