Being There

The Risen Lord appeared not once, but many times, and to many of His disciples. The experience changed their lives and their hearts.

The Spoken Version

Listen to an audio version of this reflection.

The Scripture

John 20:19-24
New Revised Standard Version

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you.”

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

Photo of a flower

The First Day by Deborah Beach Giordano

A Story of that Day

as told to Deborah by a disciple of the Lord

Jesus with the disciplesWhen it was evening on that day — that glorious day, the first day of the New Creation, we gathered together … well, huddled together might better describe it: the doors locked, a single lamp lighting the darkness, our voices low. We were confused by all that we had seen and heard, and afraid that we would be arrested as co-conspirators of Jesus.

The traitor Judas was still about. It was said that he had tried to return the silver he had received for betraying the Lord, but the money was too tainted for even the greediest hands to touch. What will he do now, I wonder; where will he go?

“I saw Judas over near the temple today,” Nathaniel said, as if reading my thoughts, “he looked like a madman; his robe in tatters, his hair tangled, scurrying along like a rat. He was staring straight ahead with an awful — a terrifying — expression on his face.” He shivered.

Judas“He will have to face what he has done, over and over.” Martha said, setting a basket of bread on the table, “There can be no rest for him, no peace for him, ever.”

“Perhaps now there can be,” Levi answered with a weary sigh, coming in and locking the door behind him, “Judas is dead.”

A deep silence followed. Was it shock, or gratification? Had justice been served so promptly? Or were we bereaved, again, at the loss — now the final separation — from a man we had thought a friend? So many questions could now never be answered.

“The demons have claimed their own,” James snorted, “He is a citizen of the eternal darkness.”

“It was by his own hand,” Levi said softly. Walking over to the window, he looked out toward the evil hill of Golgotha, “It was all so pointless. There was no profit in it for him, only misery. Senseless misery. … for all of us.”

Joanna began to weep. Matthew put his arm around her, “Come now, the Lord wouldn’t want you to mourn without hope; remember all the things He said; remember all the joys we shared.”

“Here,” Martha said, handing her a stack of cups, “Put these on the table, and set out the dishes.”

We seated ourselves at the table — reminded, inevitably, of the meals we had shared with Jesus, when it was He who led the prayer of thanksgiving, and blessed and broke the bread, and poured the wine. It was as if He were still with us as we gathered together, as if He were present in the bread and the wine.

the discipleI blinked back tears, wanting to believe — praying to believe — what the women had seen, what Mary had told us. Across the table Matthew’s head was bent low over his folded hands, Levi's face was somber, and there were two stripes of flour on Martha's cheeks where tears had been hastily wiped away. Mary did not weep, but sat still, frowning, as though listening intently.

“In the name of the Lord,” I cleared my throat and began again; I would not hesitate, I would proclaim the Gospel truth: Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Messiah: “In the name of our Lord, Jesus, the Christ, the Holy One of God, let us pray…”

At that instant Mary, her eyes wide, pointed to the corner of the room, “It is the Lord!”

There can be no describing the effect of her announcement. Confusion, certainly; James let out a shout, Nathaniel slid off his cushion onto the floor, I knocked over my wine… others, I don't know.. But when I saw Martha leap to her feet, the thought occurred that she was rushing off to prepare a plate of food for Jesus. It would be just the sort of thing she would do!

Anyhow, somewhere amid the disorder, a voice came to us, “Peace be with you.”

The sudden stillness was profound, everyone and everything — perhaps even time itself — stopped.… What had we heard? Could it be?

The man reached out to us, the wounds in His hands forming jagged shadows, his forehead gashed, his skin torn. The horror of his suffering made my head spin. Someone began praying softly, a dove rustled in rafters above us, and Mary cried out in delight, “Rabboni! Rabboni, it is You!”

in the upper room

“Peace be with you,” Jesus repeated, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” — The air crackled and sparkled as if lightning had struck in our midst. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said, “If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you hold on to their sins, they will be retained.”

The images dissolve from my memory like a dream; yet it all happened, just as I have said. My life — all our lives — have changed so absolutely, so completely, so gloriously. Heaven came down to earth and made its home among us.

the Lord Christ

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us — we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John, 1-4)

I bless you in the name of our Lord Jesus, and pray His peace and joy abide in you,

A disciple of our Lord Christ 

Suggested Spiritual Exercise

Be of good cheer, trust in the Gospel, and do not be afraid.

Easter is not a one-off; but a continual rebirth: in the Lord Christ we are born again, into the glory of our divine design. Each day and each moment we may begin again in His name: renewed and restored, to walk in the Light. It is as simple — and as complicated — as making the commitment to follow Him.