When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)
In today’s Gospel, we find ourselves in the locked upper room with the first disciples. Only Mary Magdalene had experienced the Risen Christ at that time. Others knew that the tomb was empty, but no one apart from Mary had any real experience of Jesus’ resurrection. The doors of the room that the disciples were gathered in were not only locked to keep the Jews away but locked to keep the whole world away – whilst a small group of men and women were trying to make sense of all that they had hoped for, which seemed to have been lost. Suddenly, Jesus walks through the door – literally through it, without opening it – and stands amongst them, and greets them with the words, “Peace be with you”!
Imagine being there! What an extraordinary experience face-to-face with the resurrected Jesus! No wonder the disciples who were locked in that room in fear became, at once, the fearless missionary leaders of the Early Church. It is this encounter with the risen Christ that made the disciples to be very bold in preaching Christ, and they did not hesitate to be martyrs. They had locked themselves into a prison of fear and lived as though Jesus was still in the tomb. The risen Lord broke into their prison to free them from fear. After giving them His peace, he gave them the commission “…As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (v21). The disciples hid behind closed doors to protect themselves from becoming victims. The risen Lord freed them to witness boldly concerning what they had seen and experienced. They transformed being fear-filled followers into fearless missionaries. When they met the risen Christ, they received peace in their lives.
We live in a world where young people are faced with so many challenges, such as drug abuse, gender identity, unemployment, displacement, climate change, addictions, negative peer pressure, mental health challenges, and so on. Some of these challenges were aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and that resulted in a great number of young people who have committed suicide. It is in the midst of such challenges that the risen Lord is coming into the lives of young people and speaking, “Peace be with you”! Real peace, real comfort, and real solutions can only be found in the risen Christ. Christ came and lived among us. He is Emmanuel, who knows what it means to be discriminated against, put to shame, misunderstood, and marginalised. The passage teaches us that any encounter with the risen Christ should result in a change of lives. Such as the Lord changed the waters of Marah from being bitter to being drinkable. Therefore, the risen Christ comes to the situation of young people who are grappling with various challenges to make their lives worth living. A real encounter of the risen Christ with the young people should promote the fullness of life.
Almighty God, we beseech you to help the young people experience your unending love and peace as they journey in life. May they encounter the risen Christ in their daily life endeavours. Amen!
Jackline Makena Mutuma, Methodist Church in Kenya