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Thought for the weekend


By Rev Craig Cooney

I'm not afraid of flying, it's landing that terrifies me. I'm always convinced the pilot is approaching too fast or at too sharp an angle. As we descend towards the tarmac, I start to wish I'd paid more attention to the safety announcement at the start of the flight. I close my eyes, grip the armrests and pray.

What are you afraid of? Some of our fears are completely rational, others seem ridiculous to most people. Some fears are mild, others are completely debilitating.

On the day of Jesus' resurrection, we read this in John's Gospel: "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders..." (John 20:19)

The disciples were hidden in a room with the doors not just closed, but locked. Bear in mind that this is at least 12 hours after Jesus, very much alive, had appeared to Mary in the garden. They may have been told the news of the resurrection, but they hadn't encountered him personally for themselves.

The tomb may have been wide open, but their door was tightly locked.

The grave was empty, but their hearts were filled with anxiety.

Jesus' followers were completely paralysed by fear, terrified that they would soon suffer the same fate as their leader. Also, they were probably very conscious of their own failure, remembering how they had fled and even denied knowing Jesus when he needed them most.

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Like the disciples here, fear can control us and contain us. It can lock us up and hem us in, causing us to miss out on the fullness of life that God intends for us.

However, look at what happened next: "…Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!'"

Behind the self-imposed prison of their failures and the locked doors of their fears, Jesus met with them. He spoke deep peace, shalom, into their weary, frightened hearts.

Immediately we read: "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." (v. 21)

Their overwhelming fear was replaced by deep joy when they encountered the living, risen Jesus. Wherever you find yourself today, Jesus will still meet with you. He offers his perfect peace and lavish grace. Perhaps you are hiding behind a door of fear, shame, doubt, failure, disappointment, guilt, or regret. Nothing will keep him away.

For someone who has conquered death and defeated the grave, no wall is thick enough and no lock is strong enough to keep him out.

Belfast Telegraph


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