Jesus overcomes all barriers..
by Angela !Khabeb
YOU ARE PROBABLY FAMILIAR with the story of “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas is a man on a journey of faith, known by a moniker that he did not really earn. Thomas is the person who basically tells the other disciples: “Let’s go to Bethany. And if we die, so be it. I’m not afraid of death.” And he is the one who calls out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God”—a confession that is the Christological climax of the entire Gospel. But the story of Doubting Thomas is not really about Thomas and his way to faith. This is a story about Jesus, who is the way of our faith.
John’s gospel tells us (20:19- 23) that it is evening and “the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the religious authorities.” Suddenly, Jesus comes and stands among them. Then Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”
That’s some kind of savior! Here are the disciples, locked away, afraid. Even though Mary has already given them the good news of the resurrection, they are still acting in fear.
I suppose we’re no different.
We’ve heard the good news of the resurrection. In fact, Jesus mentions us in this very passage, saying: “Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe.” Beloveds, that is us.
Yet at times, fear grips us, and we hide. Sometimes we hide behind the locked doors of our hearts. We’ve been hurt too many times before, so we decide that we’re not letting anybody in, period. Or sometimes we hide behind the locked doors of our intellect. We are often afraid to deal with our own emotions and our own pain. And sometimes we hide behind the locked doors of our comfort zones. After all, it’s safer there. For Jesus, all of this is no matter. Just as he did with the disciples, Jesus breaks through our barriers to stand with us amid our fears.
What barriers does Jesus need to break through in your life? Can you see Jesus standing with you, despite the fears you might have?
I can’t help but wonder what Jesus’ inner dialogue might have been. I imagine it might have been something like: My friends! Did you honestly think I would not come for you? Didn’t I promise you that I would never leave you without a comforter? Look: I know you locked the doors out of fear. But I have conquered death and the grave. So, for me, a locked door is a piece of cake! After all, I am “The Door.” My friends, I give you peace!
Isn’t it empowering to know that there is no obstacle we can erect… no door we can lock…and no structure we can build that Jesus cannot overcome? Jesus overcomes all barriers to bring us peace! Jesus says to us:
Peace be with you. I have conquered death.
Peace be with you. Your savior is in your midst.
Peace be with you. I am the Resurrection and the Life.
After Jesus gives his peace to the disciples, he takes another, intimate step. Jesus is completely approachable. He gives the disciples full access as he reveals his scars—the wounds of the resurrected Christ.
We, too, are wounded. Many of us deeply so. We have the scars to prove it. But you know what? Jesus shows us something amazing: Wounds, marks and scars, do not hinder the resurrection promise. Revealing his hands and his side is an act of authentication. Jesus reveals the scars so the disciples will believe that he is indeed their resurrected friend, and now, their savior.
The Rev. Angela T. !Khabeb is an ELCA pastor, author and speaker with an amazing husband, Benhi, and three spectacular children, Konami, Khenna and Khonni
This is excerpted from an article in the March/April 2023 issue. To read more articles like it, subscribe to Gather.
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