Jesus tends to ask strange questions at times.
Take today’s gospel reading from Luke, for example: It recounts the risen Lord’s first appearance to the apostles, on the evening of the very first Easter day. Suddenly, Luke says, the wounded, beaten, broken DEAD man they’d last seen two days before was standing in their midst.
Jesus’ opening line is a masterpiece of understatement, considering the frightened, bewildered state of his audience: ‘Peace be with you.’
Then he says – get this – ‘Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?’
Had I been in the room, I’m not sure that I would have taken it well. ‘Cut me some slack, Dude! We really weren’t expecting company tonight…least of all, YOU. And you want to know why I’m troubled? Why I have questions in my heart? Really?’
But the more I meditate on this strange, wonderful man…and his strange, wonderful questions…the more I come back to that opening line: ‘Peace be with you.’
Which, perhaps, is to say, ‘Relax. I am with you. Always.’
‘Even as I promised – before the cross, before you could possibly understand – I have come back to you. Me, standing here in flesh and blood, is all the proof you should ever need: I will NEVER leave you.’
And then, Jesus asks the questions – as if to point out exactly where we so often find ourselves getting off track: By living too much in our heads. By wasting too much energy on fear. By devoting too much of our lives toward finding answers for things that might simply be beyond our comprehension, or beyond our ability to fix.
In essence, Jesus asks those strange questions in order to show the apostles…and to show us…how we are still trying to live in a locked room. Even after the resurrection – even after God has raised up for us a Savior – we can find ourselves stuck behind closed doors.
Jesus knows there ARE no answers at times. Some things – like, say, the whole notion of resurrection – are completely outside our experience. Still, we should not be paralyzed by the lack of certainty in our hearts.
I thought about that today, when I read a biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the anniversary of his assassination in 1968. King was just 26 when he stepped up to lead the 1955 protest in Montgomery, Alabama – seeking justice for Rosa Parks. It’s safe to say that King didn’t know where that decision would lead…or how it might change his life. But it seems clear that he drew much of his strength from the well that is available to every Christian – the Living Water offered by the risen Christ.
When we thirst for answers, perhaps we’d do well to reflect on the questions that Jesus asks. Or better, yet – simply to drink deeply of Him, who alone can satisfy the most arid regions of our minds, hearts and souls.