John 20: 19-23; Acts 4: 32-37
In today’s gospel reading, right in the middle of it, the disciples and Jesus’s followers meet where the doors were “locked for fear.” Yes, within their context, Easter was not obviously a celebration but a possible threat. What Jesus does first with his new life is to seek out his people who are hiding in order not only to give peace and comfort, but also to command missional duties—coming out of a hiding place; receiving the Holy spirit; and forgiving others as we all are forgiven.
In today’s other passage, from the book of Acts, we also imagine a little crowd of scared people gathering together. In spite of their fear, they had great energy and courage given by the Spirit of God in inexplicable ways—doing signs and wonders; having glad and generous hearts; praising God continually; giving their lives over to God in joy; breaking bread and eating together no matter what their circumstances may look like.
Yes, the Easter believers were resilient and irresistible, and what about us? And, here is the lesson we get on this Third Sunday of Easter as we live in a world wherever and whatever we might encounter today’s empires.
Today’s two passages and stories together might be for us a big wake-up call, questioning and checking to determine what today’s imperial power may look like, and how do we respond and live out every day as Easter believers who only obey God rather than humans.
The God to be obeyed is the God who raised Jesus from the dead, the God who gives the spirit of life to the world, the God who calls the church into the Easter businesses—forgiveness, just like Jesus came to the disciples who hid themselves in the locked room, and even came and allowed the doubting Thomas to touch his scars.
Sometimes, like the doubting Thomas, we still doubt and are skeptical. Or sometimes, like Peter who defies empire, we may be ready and overeager to stand and speak to the world about the Easter message. Or perhaps most of us know the mix of reluctance and eagerness in our own life, taking the grey position—it is what it is; it is fine as long as it is their problem, not mine.
Here is the good news we are told in today’s passage—we, Easter people, have been breathed on; we have been addressed. To us, the risen Christ says, “Peace be with you.” That message still forms us who we are—the witnesses to the truth of Easter, to the power of life that God gives in the world. Thus, we are called to be witness to new Easter life and to be witness by generosity, by compassion, by hospitality, by justice, and mercy.
Peace be with us; thanks be to God.