Today’s Gospel story begins with two disciples recounting to the rest of their friends the surprising encounter they had with Jesus only moments before. He met them in their confusion, but they did not recognize it was him until he did what was familiar – break bread and share a meal.
Can you imagine the energy in that room while the two disciples told this story? The disciples have already experienced a whirlwind of intense emotions as they dealt with their leader dying only days before. Here they are, hope destroyed, paralyzed with fear, devastated, confused, and now they’re being told that Jesus was alive again? Minds are being blown and I imagine a new wave of emotions rush over the disciples. Is it incredulousness, sparks of hope, more fear?
Amid this chaotic scene, Jesus appears and the first words he speaks to this bewildered group are “Peace be with you.” Peace would probably not be the first emotion my body would experience in an encounter like this, and yet I hear an invitation to ground myself in what I know to be true when my own world feels chaotic. In the times of our lives when we feel intense isolation, fear, uncertainty, can we lean into trusting that Christ is truly with us, standing in our presence? And that it isn’t an illusion? Jesus invited his disciples to touch him, perhaps helping them to pause and remember what is true and real. How do you recognize and remember Christ’s presence in the midst of your own uncertainties?
Before he was crucified, Jesus tried to prepare his disciples several times about what would happen to him, and yet, the resurrection still came as a surprise. We too know the end of the story. We’ve heard it so many times! And yet, the truth of resurrection can still catch us by surprise. Where in your life have you experienced the surprise of new life? Does it come in the form of a fresh start, a restored relationship, the springtime weather, a newfound sense of peace or grace? New life seems to come when we least expect it. This week, can we open ourselves up to God’s transforming presence in all the cracks and crevices of our own lives and be surprised by God?