Even though we know Jesus is resurrected and lives, at the time of his crucifixion His disciples did not. We can argue they should have known. Jesus was pretty explicit about the events that would occur, but we also have the benefit of hindsight. Nevertheless, after His crucifixion the disciples were consumed with fear and doubt. They likely doubted their belief in who Jesus was. And they likely feared for their own lives. Sadly, Jesus telling at least four people to inform the eleven disciples He was alive did little, if anything, to a lessen their doubt. Then, three days after Jesus’ resurrection, an incident occurs that levels the disciples’ fear and doubt.
Locked in Fear and Doubt
In John 20:19-23 we can see the disciples hiding; hold up in a locked room. The bible says, “…the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews…” Then, out of nowhere, Jesus appears. The bible outright says “Jesus came and stood among them”. After seeing all of Jesus’ miracles (remember Jesus raised a man from the dead in front of them), Luke 24:37 records they were “startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit”. So, to extinguish their fear and doubt, Jesus showed them the wounds in His hands and side. After alleviating their fear and doubt, Jesus commissioned them for the work of making disciples.
*Little side note: I think Thomas can get kind of an unfair rap for his doubt in Jesus’ resurrection. The other ten disciples’ didn’t believe that Jesus resurrected, despite having being told by four others. They continue to refuse believing until Jesus shows up and shows them His wounds. And, even after they touched His wounds, they still did not fully believe until He opened their minds to the truth of the scripture. Sounds like a deeper level of doubt and still Jesus came to them, quoted their doubts and commissioned them.
The Walls We BuildIf I am being honest, there have been times in my life that I was one of the people in that locked room. I have read the bible and I know what it says about who Jesus is and how the story ends. Jesus’ words to me, and us, are the same explicit ones He spoke to the disciples. But regardless of hearing those words, fear and doubt still show up. Tragedy has a way of flooding your heart and mind with both. And this is different than unbelief. I’m not fully convinced the disciples were in full blown “Jesus was not the Messiah” mode of thinking. It still seems a far distance for them to go from seeing all of His miracles and confessing Him as Messiah, to complete unbelief. What makes sense to me is they likely struggled with believing what they saw and what Jesus had revealed. Maybe I am wrong and they were in full-blown unbeliever mode, but I have my doubts.
What I do know is that the times when I struggled with doubt, it was never about who Jesus was, as my Messiah. I struggled with being afraid of outcomes and consequences. I struggled with doubting in His provision, goodness and grace. There were times I even doubted whether His love and forgiveness could actually reach the depths of my mistakes. As a result of those doubts and fears, I erected walls and locked doors so that I could close myself and my heart in. I did it as a way to protect myself. But what from? I was trying to protect myself from other, from consequences, and sometimes from God. Walls we build can often be very strong, making it difficult for anyone, even those who love us, to get in. This is never good for us. God did not create us to live inside our walls of doubt.
Does Jesus Walks through Our Walls
When Jesus appeared to the larger group of disciples the bible said He was simply “among them”. I have heard numerous sermons mention Jesus walking though the wall or the locked door. Since the bible does not actually say that, it is mostly conjecture. What is clear is that the disciples were hiding behind a locked door, meaning to keep people out, and Jesus was still appeared among them. There is no reference to Him unlocking the door; I think the door opening would have drawn the disciples’ attention. He just showed up. And that is the same way that He deals with our walls and locked doors. Asking whether Jesus walks through our walls, or locked doors, is the wrong question. A better question is, “Do I recognize Jesus when He appears inside of my walls?”
Jesus Among You
Even in your fear and doubt, Jesus is there; among you. He stands in the midst of your fear and doubt, shows the wounds He endured for you, confirms His love for you, and breaths His Holy Spirit into you (John 20:22). He does everything you need Him to do in order to remove your fear and doubt. The bible tells us, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” And we find that strength when we receive the truth He reveals and take comfort in His presence, inspire of our walls and doors. Then, we are able to unlock our door and go out into the world, confident in who Jesus is and in who we are in Him.