SCRIPTURE: John 20:19 (TM) – larger reading John 20:19-31
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you."
Seeking to know God better, John Chrysostom became a hermit in the mountains near Antioch in A.D. 373. Although his time of isolation was cut short by illness, he learned that with God at his side, he could stand alone against anyone or anything. That lesson served Chrysostom well. In A.D. 398 he was appointed patriarch of Constantinople, where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia, who had him exiled. Allowed to return after a short time, Chrysostom again infuriated Eudoxia, who sent him away again. How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution? With these words: "What can I fear? Will it be death? But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord's. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for; and from death I do not shrink."
Out of fear the disciples locked themselves in as they locked the Jews out. Things were coming at them faster than they could process. Calvary, burial, and now Jesus’ body has disappeared… or was it more… could it be true what some of their own were saying… resurrection? But they were gripped by fear.
What fear grips us? Where are we paralyzed by fear? Fear of the unknown… or of the known. How have we locked ourselves up because of this crippling fear? And even more to the point, how badly do we need to hear Jesus or God say to us: “Peace to you”?
Testimonies like that above from John Chrysostom should encourage us that we have nothing to fear in this life or in the life to come. There is no one and nothing that authority over us… even though we have backed ourselves into a corner thinking so. Once we really learn that there is nothing in this world to fear then the locks come off and we become unshackled.
I believe that scripture speaks about having “Holy Boldness” – the unshackled soul. Therein lies the true power of resurrection and freedom of Easter. Not the free ticket to heaven stuff that is so often heard, but a fearless living in the reality of the here-and-now.
And because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives
May the chains fall off and the doors open wide as we escape from the fear that holds us back and locks us in. Help us to embrace the power of resurrection and hear the “Peace to you” message of the living Jesus.