It is not a stretch to say that Jesus’ disciples experienced similar feelings as they huddled together in a house with doors locked “for fear of the Jews.” How that small group of disciples moved from paralyzing fear to changing the world is a testament of the amazing work of God in and through their lives. The gospel writer does us a favor by telling us exactly why the disciples locked themselves in the house. “… and the doors of the house were locked for fear of the Jews” — not their fellow Jews on the street, but the powerful Jewish leaders who had engineered Jesus’ execution. <!–split–>
Fear is a powerful human emotion. It shuts all kinds of doors in our lives. It shuts the door on people who are different from us, making us see them more as a threat than a friend. It shuts the door on opportunities that could lead to wonderful new chapters in our lives. Fear causes us to react to the unknown rather than see it through the eyes of God. This day, the disciples locked themselves in the house for fear of what Jesus’ opponents might do to them. Jesus had been nailed to the cross; what hope did they have?
But really, the lock on the door was unnecessary. Fear was enough to keep them locked up tight. They weren’t going anywhere.
Then Jesus showed up. He didn’t knock on the door. He didn’t ask them if it was okay for him to come in. He just appeared. John tells us, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”
After that Jesus “showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” The gospel does not paint us a full picture of this event. It would be great to know more about precisely how the disciples reacted when Jesus first appeared among them, but John didn’t see the need for that. Jesus appeared and that seemed to be enough.