JOHN 20: 18-23 NO MATTER
Rome did her best to destroy Jesus.
On what we call good Friday. Roman power failed to destroy her non-violent foe. They humiliated Jesus, tortured him, disgraced him, brutalized with inhumane and bloody beatings on a cross for six long hours. Family, friends, and spectators with a thirst for blood saw pure innocence die between two guilty criminals of the nation.
Never had a holy man without the due process of justice died such an ugly and unfair death. Jesus died not cursing but praying for the ones who ordered his death and for the cross makers and merchants of death who killed to live. Jesus died with forgiveness, love, and dignity, trusting God with his death. Jesus died knowing that better than being in the good hands of All State Insurance he was in the good hands of his heavenly Father. On Saturday the city the religious and political leaders were satisfied that their will had been done.
Roman soldiers who were paid mercenaries of state supported nationalism stationed guards to keep loyal Jewish friends of liberation from Rome from stealing the body. Women supporters of Jesus were busy preparing spices to use on Sunday to anoint the body of Jesus. Eleven of his disciples were in the state of shock and trauma afraid for their own lives. The gospel of John says that these afraid disciples were hiding behind locked doors to save their own lives. Since they failed in saving the life of Jesus as they promised hm they would do, how could they save themselves from the Romans.? They were helpless in saving themselves from fear. What a contrast, afraid disciples and brave women.
No matter what happened Roman power was unprepared for what was to come. Early Sunday morning fearless women followers made their way to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Tell me why these women who were the last at the cross were not afraid as were the male disciples. Was it because the women were not a threat to the Roman soldiers? Did these women remember the Psalms,: The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life of whom shall I be afraid? Whatever their secret was Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Fannie Lou Hamer had no fear.
So did our mothers and grandmothers who blazed our faith trails. If it had not have been for the faith of these brave women where would many of us be? These women who were the first to be traumatized by the empty tomb and the first to see the Risen Christ with his mother Mary who carried Jesus nine months in her body were among the first to to meet Christ risen from the dead.
Far from demonizing the men who were absent from the empty tomb, let us admire Mary Magdalene and those women who were the first to see both the empty tomb and the risen Christ. When they discovered this incredible news. They rushed to share with the disciples the hard to believe news of seeing Jesus alive.
They knew where to find the disciples. These men were hidden away together. Sometimes when the enemy comes after us, the men scatter but these brothers stuck together. Nobody ever snitched to the enemy as did Judas who gave the location of their hiding place in the Garden of Eden when Jesus was arrested.
This time they stuck together. These disciples afraid for their lives found comfort and strength by sticking together. The women came to their hide out with good news. The disciples did not lock out the good news. Fear, not faith locks out good news. Do churches lock out opportunities to share the good news because our fear is stronger than our faith? Why is our fear stronger than our faith? Are we afraid to welcome folks who may be unlike us in skin color, national origin, economic status, educational level, physical disability or sexual preference? Are we afraid of the ex- offender ? Whom do we lock out? When we lock others out, we lock ourselves in from being the church that is called to welcome the outsider into becoming an insider in the family of God. No matter how smug we are in our in locked in comfort zones Christ comes.
No matter what Christ comes. Lock your minds and Christ will come. Lock the doors of our fixed habits and Christ comes Lock the doors of our wishes and ways, and Christ comes; lock the doors of our customs and causes, Christ comes. Lock the doors of your preferences and prejudices and Christ comes. Lock ourselves into long time church traditions and customs and Christ will come unannounced and stand in the midst of us.Christ enters our locked spaces and places.
He comes with peace for our fears. He comes to the suffering and the wounded saying’’ look at the wounds and scars in my side and hands’’. He comes with the peace of forgiveness for our guilty and sinful lives. Christ comes to each of us, no matter what, we cannot hide behind locked doors. God finds us us as God found Adam and. Eve when they hid from him in the garden of Eden. No matter what, what, where, when God finds us behind locked doors.