After the death of Jesus, His followers locked themselves in a home. Feeling disappointed, disillusioned and afraid, you could say they self-isolated or self-quarantined.
They responded to the threat and fear of Jewish leaders by staying home. The text in John 20:19-23 doesn’t give us too many details beyond that. But can you imagine what was rattling around in their heads? The emotions that overwhelmed them? The conversations they had?
The man who they were convinced was the Messiah had been killed. The mission to which they had given their entire lives was now suddenly over. Life was never going to be the same.
Struggling with uncertainty and anxiety, they gathered in a home and locked the door. But their social distancing could not separate them from the risen Christ.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
In the midst of their lockdown, Jesus showed up uninvited, bringing a peace that only He can bring.
In the minds of the disciples, Jesus was dead – gone forever and no longer at work in the world. But Jesus was not dead. He had risen from the grave, and He made this Good News known to them in their quarantine.
Jesus didn’t wait for His disciples to get their act together and show more faith before appearing to them. He met His scared followers in their locked home, extended them peace, and empowered them by breathing on them and inviting them to receive the Holy Spirit.
A week later, Jesus appeared to the disciples who were again locked in a home. This time, Thomas was with them. Thomas had told the other disciples that he didn’t believe Jesus was alive.
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
In the middle of Thomas’ doubts, Jesus shows up again, offering the greeting, “Peace be with you!”
Jesus patiently and compassionately allows Thomas to touch His hands and His side.
“Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas was honest about his doubts, and Jesus met him there. Thomas came to the house with doubts and left with the peace of Christ.
Maybe you can relate to Thomas. I know I can. During my quarantine and amidst all the chaos surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, I have faced anxieties, fears, anger, and doubts. I am tempted to push them down and ignore them – pretend they are not there.
But Biblical stories like these remind me that Jesus isn’t afraid of my emotions. It’s in the mess of my anger, disappointment, anxiety, confusion, and doubts that He desires to meet me.
Your emotions aren’t an obstacle to meeting with God. They are the arena in which you can encounter Him most profoundly. This quarantine gives us, as Christ followers, an opportunity to slow down, examine our hearts, and be honest with God about how we are feeling. It’s an opportunity to respond to His invitation to receive His peace.
With that in mind, here is a short imaginative prayer practice:
Slowly read John 20:19-23.
Imagine you are among the disciples locked in the house (shouldn’t be hard). What are the disciples feeling? What is the mood in the room? What are they talking about?
Take a moment to be honest with yourself about how you are feeling right now during your own quarantine. Can you name your emotions? Anxiety? Fear? Confusion? Loneliness?
Imagine Jesus walking into your home, looking you in the eyes, and extending you the greeting, “Peace be with you!” What is His tone of voice? How does He look at you? What else does He say to you? What Good News is He bringing to you during your quarantine?
Imagine Jesus breathing on you. Take a moment to rest and invite the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind with peace.
~ Aaron Mueller
Editor’s Note: Our guest writer today is my son, Aaron. He and his wife and two boys live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a pastoral assistant at Vineyard North in Grand Rapids and is also the Communications Director for Crossroads Prison Ministries.