Today I am confronted with an unusual situation. Plans have been made to drive to Atlanta for the start of a three-week vacation, however closure of a nearby interstate by marchers demanding justice may change my plans. A case of police brutality is being protested by organizers, however media is speaking and pointing out the fear factor. The release of actual visual footage of police brutality and the media boosts act like mob protest in every home with a TV.
This isn't the first time protestors have stopped all traffic on an interstate. In this type of protest, fear is used to control other drivers and to pump up protestors. As a driver, I'm afraid I might hurt somebody or that somebody may hurt me. As a protestor, my thoughts, emotions, and actions can get stirred up by fear of not being heard. That is the some of the fear factor of mob protests.
Now, in my morning devotion, I read in John 20:19-23 where the disciples may have been acting in this kind of fear. It says the disciples were gathered together and they were afraid. These are strong, hardy men who have spent three years together as friends and companions, an intimate group of like-minded brothers. No doubt they were afraid of what the Romans or the Jews might do to them after having seen what they did to Jesus. They had actually locked the doors for fear of the Jews.
Jesus is suddenly in the room and says to them: "Peace be with you." If he could say "Peace" to the wind in a storm where the disciples had been afraid, and the wind obeyed, you would think that his words or the memory would have some impact on the disciples. He only said it once to the wind, but their fear must have been great, because he then repeats again: "Peace be with you. Just as the father has sent me, I send you." I wonder if any of them thought, Does that mean I will be brutalized and crucified just as you were? Now here's the real challenge: to see that gross violence upon another human being and consider willingness to go through it yourself.
While they are in this state of mind, he then goes on to say, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Even those who had been with Jesus, seen the scars in his hands, heard his voice, and shared memories still had to "receive". We are no different. In our daily circumstance, when we find ourselves overcome by responses to social injustice or with fear of any kind, he still says, "Peace be with you" and "Receive the Holy Spirit". Listen for it.