(The two men told the apostles) what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Picture this: The apostles — twelve minus one — are huddled together in a house. The doors are locked and the windows are shuttered. They are jumpy and nervous, some even frightened. They have reason to be. Their master was crucified! And if that wasn’t bad enough, what he went through before the crucifixion was enough to give one nightmares for life. And this could happen to them if they were caught. So no surprise they had the jitters.
And suddenly, locked doors and shuttered windows notwithstanding, Lord Jesus appears in the midst of them! Whoa! I can just imagine their reaction. Scripture says they were terrified, and again, no surprise! What would you have done? And our Lord says, “Peace be with you.” One can almost picture the beatific look on his face as he tries to hide a smile at the terror-stricken faces of the apostles. “Why are you frightened?”, he asks them. What?! Why does our Lord ask these questions?
He makes an appearance in a locked room even though he is supposed to be dead and he asks: Why are you frightened? And this isn’t the only time he asks this. One day, as they were sailing, they were hit by a storm, and even though they were seasoned fishermen used to bad weather, this storm was so bad they were frightened because it looked like they would drown. And Jesus asks them why they are frightened. A couple of days ago, we saw him asking Mary Magdalene why she was weeping?
Why? Why does Christ ask these seemingly absurd questions? Because they force us to examine our fears! (And in the case of the ‘weeping’ question, our tears!) The first thing this examination does is identify our struggles. What are we afraid, or sorrowful about? Events that have taken place? The circumstances of our lives? Okay. So, these events and circumstances are bad, kinda like a terrible storm the apostles got caught in, and they make us feel sad or afraid or hopeless. This is the reality. Accepted.
But the second thing this examination does is ask us why we are afraid or sorrowful, but there is an addendum here. The question really is, “Why are we afraid when Jesus is with us?” And then the ABSURDITY of the sadness or fear strikes us because we realize how silly it is to be sad or afraid when Jesus is with us? Do you remember when you were little and had a nightmare. And you crept into your parent’s bed and your dad held you tight telling you not to worry because he was with you. Did your fear not go away? Why? Because you trusted him, no?
Isn’t God more trustworthy than our dads? So, as I asked you two days ago why you were weeping, I am asking you today: “Why are you frightened?”