John 20 is where I landed because I knew it could be Eastery but I had no direction before thumbing there. As I scrolled through the stories there I laughed a little in surprise like Sarai when she got some surprising news. The words that needed spoken were right there spoken by Jesus. Imagine Jesus saying the right thing at the right time.
The chapter begins with Peter and John racing to the tomb they thought must house Jesus since they had seen him dead and buried. Secretly, I like this text because John outran Jesus and I'm a Cross Country Coach and I just think it's fantastic that tidbit was included. As it turns out, of course, the tomb was empty, and Jesus was very much alive.
He came to his disciples whom we find "with the doors locked for fear." Their fear was of Jews who knew they had followed Jesus—who'd spent a great deal of energy overturning their evil systems. We don't have doors locked because we fear Jewish leaders. But we sure are doing up this Safer-at-Home thing to keep the Rona away. We fear the grocery store, large crowds, and going to work. We stay home in isolation a lot. And Jesus showed up in their safer-at-home, and ours, and says "Peace be with you." Twice.
To add a Corona-humored layer on the text, Jesus then breathes on the disciples to give them the Holy Spirit. I read that with my homemade facemask for grocery visits in viewing distance. Jesus clearly wasn't gifting the Spirit during a Covid pandemic. I assume he wouldn't be a carrier either way.
Then, we meet Thomas for whom I feel so hard. I spent half of my 20s with significant doubts about Jesus. I even moved to the other side of world, at least partially, because I didn't know what to make of Jesus and the Bible Belt was actually not a great place to figure it out for me at that time. So, when a resurrected Jesus shows up to meet Thomas showed up to meet Thomas, Thomas had already made it known to his buddies he had no interest in believing this resurrection nonsense unless he had Jesus right there in front of him with scars to touch.
What I LOVE here is BEFORE Jesus provides those proofs for doubting Thomas he provides a blessing: Peace be with you. Jesus didn't need Thomas in perfected faith-mode in order to bless him with peace. No, he wants to give peace to the person who will love peace because it is absent. Jesus comes to this doubtful, confused, wounded man and says "Peace."
Today, on Easter, you can have fear. You can have doubt. Jesus shows up in our locked doors—he did that twice in this chapter—and says "Peace to you." How can he say that? Because the last words he said before this chapter were "It is finished." Death and evil have been defeated.
Wherever you are reading this, my prayer for you during this season is you live like Jesus is in that space with you and you envision him saying in your fear and doubt and thousand Zoom calls and helping your kid with homework while you're cooking and texting your coworker about that project "Peace. Peace. Peace be with you."