After Jesus had been crucified, we’re told the disciples were in a room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews (John 20:19-20).
There was much to be feared. When Jesus died on the cross all their hope and dreams had died with him – at least that may have been their perspective before Jesus’ resurrection. For the Eleven, it would have been reasonable to expect that the people who wanted Jesus dead would want his key followers dead as well. So they were petrified. Inside that room they held their breath at every footfall, every knock on the door, every sudden sound.
So they had taken appropriate measures, and barricaded themselves in a room, locked the doors, turned out the lights, speaking in muted whisper of how they would hold the line and what they would do to make a last stand together. These actions were sensible, and we should not mock them.
My own capacity to cower before my fears never ceases to amaze me. I admit: I lock the doors and draw the curtains way too quickly. In that initial response I think I am working for my own preservation, but it tends to cut me off from those who are near to me. It deafens me to their words of hope and encouragement. It keeps me insulated from the comfort and nearness of those who love me more than I know. So, there are always some bills to be paid.
And then I see here what Jesus does, not just in our fears, but to our fears. Almost imperceptibly, he enters by miraculous, sovereign, and surprisingly gentle means. He does not rebuke the Eleven for their fear or their lack of faith: he just enters into it, and as he does, those fears are transformed into all joy and hallelujah.
Somehow I imagine these followers, some years down the track, reminiscing over a meal and saying, “hey, remember the time we’d locked ourselves in our room, and we were packing it, and how Jesus just showed up…?”
Displaying his hands and feet reminded them of two things. One: the victory had been won. Two: now there was only love and life. In that very act they were changed.
So now, when I retreat, I will do well to recognise that even in that locked room Jesus is with me. He not only enters my fear, he shows me his resurrected hands and feet, and takes that ‘locked room’ of ‘what’s going to become of me?’ and it becomes instead a place of “peace be with you” and “receive the Holy Spirit.” All joy and hallelujah!
When I am gripped with fear, and all I want to do is retreat to my locked room, I should tell that to all my insecurities.