“In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ ” (John 20:19).
It had been an exhausting roller coaster of emotions. There was the night before it all happened – that night when Jesus’ words hung in the air in a cloud of mystery. “This is My body” He had said. “This is My blood” He had continued. And in that moment, the disciples had the luxury of treating the words of Jesus as pure metaphor as they had before. He had spoken of death and betrayal, but perhaps He was speaking as He had of farmers and seed and planks and weeds up to this point.
But this was no mere metaphor. Just hours later, it had begun. The false accusations and the mob like trial. The rush to crucifixion. The blood and the tears. And they had, to their shame, scattered from His presence just as He said they would. And what now? Not one of them could say for sure. There were the rumors of course – the ravings of from Mary Magdalene about a resurrection. Others, too, claiming that the miraculous had happened. But here they sat – together again. Together with their doubts. Together with their shame. Together with their fears. All but Thomas, having that awkward kind of hushed conversation you have when the tempest of life is waiting for you outside those doors.
Those tightly locked doors.
But then there He was. Jesus. Standing in their midst, proclaiming a message of peace. Peace, not fear. Peace, not anxiety. Peace, not guilt.
“Peace to you,” He had said.
In considering the scene, I have to wonder about the detail of the locked doors.
That’s not to say that a locked door is a problem for the resurrected Son of God – surely it’s not. Surely a latch or bolt is not going to keep out the One who beat down the doors of death. But how did He get past the doors?
Did He float through? Was He some kind of specter – living now in a semi-transparent state – floating around, this place and that? And because He wasn’t really solid, He was able to pass through the locked door without hanging up a stitch of His clothing? That’s a bit like how the greeting card companies would have us think of life after death, isn’t it? That it’s an existence where it’s all misty and hazy, everything is in slow motion, where you lazily drift from cloud to cloud, and everyone wears diapers? That it’s almost like a dream or an LSD-induced vision. That everything in that existence is ethereal; nothing is tangible.
But then again…
Perhaps it’s just the opposite. Perhaps the realm of heaven is more real, not less real, than the one we are in now. Perhaps the rocks in heaven might be harder than rocks on earth. Colors are more vivid than we see now. Water is more liquid-y than it is now. In that existence, stuff is more real than what we know to be real now.
If that’s true, then Jesus, in His post-resurrection state, had become the very definition of reality. He was more solid, more real, than any other human being. If that’s true, then it was not Jesus who was so hazy that He could pass through the door; it was the door that had become hazy. It was transparent. It was cloudy and without definition.
Peace indeed. Peace in knowing that the next world is more real than this one. Peace in knowing that the stuff of this life will fade to vapor in light of eternity. And peace in knowing that the resurrected Son of God lives still in that realm and is ready to welcome us there, too. To the life we have been prepared for. To the true life. To the realest of the real.