Series: Resurrection Appearances
McMinnville First April 13, 2008
During my ministry there have been a numerous occasions when I was called upon to go into a jail or a prison. Some time ago I went to Memphis to visit with an inmate in a Federal Prison. It was like trying to get into Fort Knox. You would go through one security station and then another, each time passing through a locked door.
Let's be honest, no matter how many times you see it or hear it or watch it on television, the clanging shut of a prison door is a unsettling sound. But you know, some of the most tightly closed doors are miles from a prison. In fact, most of us do not have to visit a prison to encounter them, they are as close as the human heart.
Today's scripture is a story about locked doors. The account begins on the afternoon of Easter Sunday. The disciples are gathered in a room.
We are told that the door is locked because the disciples are afraid. Suddenly, out of nowhere Jesus comes to them. The disciples are overjoyed at seeing the risen Lord. Jesus' word to them was brief and to the point.
He said, "Peace be with you," and instructed them that just as God had sent him into the world, he was now sending them into the world. With this he leaves.
It is here that we have the story of Thomas. Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus came. When he is told what happened he said, "Unless I place my fingers into the holes in his hands and thrust my arm into his side, I will not believe."
A week passes. Guess what? The disciples are once again gathered in a room with the door locked. Jesus once again comes to then and greets them with the same blessing, "Peace be with you." He immediately strikes up a conversation with Thomas and Thomas believes.
The disciples were leading lives behind locked doors. We can almost hear the sqeaky hinges of a clanging prison door even now.
I. What do you suppose caused the locked doors in the disciples lives?
1. For one thing, fear.
We are told that the disciples were afraid of the Jews. They had seen what the hatred of the Jews did to Jesus. If they hated him that much surely they would not hesitate to do the same thing to them.
They were afraid for their lives and for the safety of their family.
2.But there was perhaps another reason.
A week passes between Jesus first visit and his second. Yet the door is still locked. You see, Thomas was not the only one among the eleven who doubted. They began to question among themselves, "Was it really Jesus or was it just a figment of our imagination?" Doubt and fear working together will cause the bravest among us to seek safety behind a locked door.
II. Let’s be honest.
The disciples were not the last people who tried to live their lives from behind locked doors. Many of us have locked doors. Oh, they may not be physical doors, but still we have allowed our lives to be placed under lock and key. The clanging doors are so deafening that we are unable to function. We put up barriers, we wear masks, we are just as imprisoned as someone on death role.
III. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CAUSES OF LOCKED DOORS IN OUR LIVES?
1.The same as the disciples.
Maybe it is not the fear of losing our life instead we fear failing at what we do. That we will strike out, or make the wrong call, or that the boss will not like the report we turn in. That the husband will not like the way you have cleaned house.
Perhaps we fear that some one we really do not know will not like us. Or if so and so really knew what I was like they would have nothing to do with me. We are constantly worrying about what people are thinking about us. So fear causes us to put on our little masks and seek refuge behind the locked door of our heart.
And like the disciples we have our doubts. A certain amount of doubt is probably healthy but even this can go to far. WE doubt God. We doubt the scriptures. We doubt the church. We doubt the Sunday teacher. We doubt ourselves and our own abilities. So instead of living life in faith we lock the door of doubt and hide.
2. But there are other causes of locked doors in our lives that are not mentioned in the text.
Perhaps guilt has caused more locked doors than anything else. Guilt over sin sometimes makes us feel as if we are shut off from God.
Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve? God told Adam and Eve that they could take of any fruit in the garden of Eden except from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But Adam and Eve did it anyway. What happened next? When God came in the afternoon to spend some time with Adam and Eve, they were so consumed by guilt and shame that they ran and hid from God.
Guilt of sin seemed to lock a door between God and his creation. Are you experiencing guilt over sin you have committed? Perhaps you have been living a life consumed by guilt over something that happened years ago. I have good news for you. That door can be unlocked right now. Confess that sin to God and put it behind you.
Perhaps we are suffering from guilt about our relationship with someone else. Perhaps unforgiveness with a mate, or family member, or someone else has caused a locked door in your life. Remember the story of Jacob and Esau? Jacob was quite a con-man. He took advantage of hunger and the youthful inexperience of his brother to take his brothers birth right. When Jacob tricks his father into giving him Esau's blessing Jacob runs for his life. Jacob feels guilt because he knows he needs the forgiveness of his brother. It is not until years latter that these two brothers are reconciled. Is there a locked door in our life because we know we have done something wrong to another person? Is there someone we have been holding a grudge against? Is there someone we need to forgive?
Along these same lines of thought, another cause of locked doors is hurt. Perhaps someone has done something to us that makes us withdraw into ourselves and lock the door. We do not want to allow anyone in and we do not want to go out. These could be child hood experiences or memories. Perhaps linked to some form of abuse, verbal or otherwise. Maybe it is linked to your experience as a parent when you found yourself cut to the quick of your heart. Death can deliver a mighty hurt. The lose of a mate, a parent, a child, all of these loses can cause us to lock doors.
Marriage, even a good one can have its hurts. Words. Cutting remarks. No words at all. Lack of understanding. All of the these can lock doors in our relationships. Some of us are experiencing a deep seeded pain that we do not want anyone near us. If someone I love can do this to me, I will never let anyone else close to me and we dead bolt the door of our heart.
But guess what? There is some good news in this story for today. In fact there is some great news!
IV. THE RISEN JESUS CAN PENETRATE THESE DOORS OR ANY OTHER LOCKED DOOR WE MAY HAVE.
Even though the disciples were closed up behind some locked door that did not prevent Jesus from coming to them. He just came through the door. He came and stood among them. What does this say to us?
1. No door is to big, or any problem to great that Jesus cannot handle it.
2. He did not make them unlock the door before he came. We do not have to be perfect. We do not have to get rid of certain things on our own.
3. He did not criticize them. He accepted them the way they were.
4. He was patient. After he came he didn't say, "Shame on you for being locked up in here. Now get on out there."
V. NOTICE THE MESSAGE HE HAD FOR THEM
1.Each time he said, "Peace be with you."
2.Brought to their memory the calming of the sea
VI. THE NEXT SCENE
1. In chapter 21 we find the disciples have unlocked the doors. They have come out. Where are they? Out in the open, by the sea. It represents freshness, wholeness, vitality.
2. Do you remember as a kid being locked up in a house all day. It is beautiful but for some reason you have to stay shut up in that stuffy old house. Then that afternoon a friend comes over and invites you to come out and play. You go out and life seems so fresh and vivarent. Life seems new.
This is what Jesus is saying to us today. "I am here with you. Let us unlock the doors of your circumstance and go out together and enjoy the beauty of life."