-Amanda Gayle Reed
26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” -John 20:26, Common English Bible
Eight days pass. Eight days.
Why am I so shocked by that?
Because the disciples encountered the Risen Christ, realized that even death had no power over him, and still locked themselves away in hiding for another eight days.
I’ve often dreamed about how awkward those eight days were: Thomas, convinced his friends had lost their minds, the disciples trying desperately to convince Thomas that they had actually seen Jesus. THE Jesus.
Eight long days pass and suddenly, in the midst of the awkwardness, Jesus is there.
How he is there is never explained. Did he come through the door (like a ghost would)? Did he unlock the door? Did he just materialize out of thin air?
The Doubting Thomas in my mind begins to race with the questions: How? Where? What? When?
But it’s only the Why? that seems to get answered.
Peace be with you.
I know that this is a traditional greeting for the culture and the time in which the disciples were living. On the surface, it’s as innocuous as me walking into a room and saying, “Hi! How are you?”
And yet, there is so much more to it. In a moment when questions are flying about at the speed of light, Jesus enters and encourages peace. In a room stifling with the stench of fear and confusion, Jesus comes and speaks peace. In a room rife with questions and wonder, Jesus offers peace.
Why has Jesus come to these people in their locked room? To bring them peace.
Even in the moments of our lives where doubt and fear leave us feeling as if we are in a freefall, not knowing what to expect or what to grab onto for stability, it is the simple presence of Christ which brings us peace.
Thomas had declared for all who were willing to hear that he was troubled by the story his friends told, that he needed something more. He acknowledged his doubt. And opened the door to the possibility of having his understanding expanded.
After eight days of wondering about the mental health of his friends, struggling with the story they had to tell, wrestling with all the questions racing about his mind, and asking for the same experience so that he, too, could believe, Thomas finds himself face-to-face with Jesus. And for all the emotions which must have flooded his soul in that moment, surely peace was the most welcome.
About The Author
Rev. Amanda Gayle Reed is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She is a member of the West Virginia Conference currently serving a congregation in Gooding Idaho. She is a graduate of West Virginia State University (Institute, WV) and the Iliff School of Theology (Denver, Co) and frequently writes at AppalachianPreacher.com.