Monday, April 18, 2016

Prisons of Our Own Making

“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, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’  But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’  Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:19-29 NIV)

Even after seeing and hearing compelling evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, His disciples were still afraid.  They had locked themselves inside a home fearing the realities outside of the walls.  Then, out of nowhere, the risen Jesus appeared to them and reassured them.  They should be at peace because He would be with them through the Holy Spirit and wanted them to go out into the world as His messengers.  

A week later, we find them once again together and, once again, cowering behind locked doors.  The message Jesus had proclaimed to them had yet to find its mark.  Instead of moving about freely in the peace and confidence of the Lord, they chose to remain in their self-made prison, alone and afraid.  Then Jesus appeared again with the same message: “Peace be with you.”  He also demonstrated He wasn’t a ghost, but a real person.  He had indeed conquered death!  It was after this that the men found the courage to move out of their prison and into the adventure that would change the world.

How hard it is to allow Jesus to free us from our self-made prisons!  It took two actual appearances by Him for the disciples to finally unlock the doors and walk into freedom.  Is it any wonder why we, too, find it so difficult to escape our self-made prisons?  

When I was first beginning campus ministry, I often feared making appointments with students.  My introversion was my prison.  I also had created another with my fear of singleness.  It took me years to fully be free from both of these.  I was slow to accept Jesus’ promise of peace and to set myself free.

Earlier in this gospel, Jesus promises us freedom through Himself (John 8:36), yet often we are loath to take it.  Fear consumes us and we lock ourselves away.  Instead of being ambassadors, we are prisoners. Instead of freely proclaiming the Lord’s message, we remain locked in prisons of our own making, fearing what is outside the walls.  

Today, consider what fears you are allowing to imprison you, to keep you from freely proclaiming the message of the Lord.  Imagine Jesus entering the room and promising you will experience peace outside those walls if you will only unlock the door and leave.  Know the promise is true and freedom is yours if you will only accept it.

© Jim Musser 2016

No comments: