huddled in fear | John 20.19-20
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. John 20.19-20 | ESV
Then evening fell on that day of days, that first day of the week. The doors had been sealed tight – locked, bolted, and chained – the disciples huddling behind them in fear, terrified that they would be the next targets of the religious powers that be. And then, poof!, right in the middle of that huddle of fear stood Jesus – and before they even had time to react he breathed the words “Shalom alecha!” meaning “Peace be with you” or in every day lingo, “Hello there!” No sooner had he breathed the greeting than his hands were on display right before their faces showing the tell-tale marks of crucifixion, and then he lifted up his tunic, exposing a nasty wound in his side marking the impact of that lethal spear thrust. Fear beat a hasty retreat before the joy that now flooded the soul of each of the disciples – they saw the Lord, and one look was all they needed! MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
This is so us.
Huddles and puddles of fear.
We live in a nation that spends, what, $500 billion annually or whatever amount on defense? Let’s not go all political here, but we tend to become reflections of the prevailing culture around us. We seek the security of locked doors, impenetrable walls, building defensive works in our lives more elaborate than those of the Japanese on Iwo Jima.
Yes, we are all huddled with the disciples behind those locked and barred doors. And what a high cost our imagined security extracts! The beauty of this upper room moment is that Christ doesn’t “stand at the door and knock.” He just pops up right in the middle of our insecurities, saying, “Peace, y’all!”
We so desperately need to be infiltrated.
We so desperately need to let ourselves be infiltrated.
By the reality that John many years after this upper room moment celebrates in his letter to later huddles of fearful disciples:
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 1 John 4:17-19 | MSG
Where in your life right now do you sense you are huddled in fear? How might Jesus already be popping up in your own circle of fear, announcing his peace? How can you embrace him and his peace?
Lord, I welcome you into the midst of my huddle and puddle of fear today. Give me eyes to see your wounded hands – wounds not only now healed, but healing. And let that glimpse of you make all else beat a hasty retreat before me. Through Christ.