Peace be with you.
“On the evening of that day [when He was resurrected], the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ “ John 20:19
As I write this, it is Easter weekend, a time when Christians around the world celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified on a Friday, buried, and then on the third day, Sunday, He was resurrected from the dead. This is why Christians gather on Sunday rather than on Saturday, which was the traditional Jewish Sabbath day. We gather weekly on Sunday to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. We also eat bread and drink wine when we gather, as instructed at the last supper of Jesus with His disciples, to remember His death sacrifice on our behalf, also recognizing that this sacrifice bought our redemption, allowing for us too to be resurrected like Jesus.
We also should be remembering the resurrection daily as individuals. The resurrection represents the guarantee of our future hope. This is the light on the horizon upon which we focus on as we journey through this time on earth, longing for our pilgrimage to end, and to be there at our destination with Jesus. It could happen that our earthly life will end or that Jesus will return and we will be transformed; either way, this is our hope of glory.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” 1 Peter 1:13
We celebrate so that we don’t lose focus or forget. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the things of this world. Our lives get busy and we get engaged in many things that capture our attention and the focus of our life. We need to reset, daily as individuals, and weekly as small groups, yearly en masse.
The whole world agrees and knows that this life will end, and that we will leave this life with nothing. Yet many live as if this were not true; they live as if there will be no end to this life. This is the way of the world and is foolish.
So not only is it wise to focus on our eternal hope, but there is something else that is maybe not as apparent. This focus on hope will bring peace. It will bring inner peace, quiet, rest, and tranquility.
Jesus knew this. Jesus knew that the full, deep comprehension of His resurrection by His disciples would bring inner peace to them. This was why, according to the eye witness account of John, when Jesus first appeared to the disciples as a group on the day He was resurrected, the first thing He said was “Peace be with you.” This was not just a simple salutation. He repeated it again after He showed them His wounds.
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’” John 20:21
In the Phillips translation it’s worded this way: “Yes, peace be with you! Just as the Father sent me, so I am now going to send you.”
Up to this point the disciples were fearful. They locked the doors for fear of the Jews. But on an even deeper level, they didn’t understand what had happened. Jesus was killed by the authorities. They had not yet realized the implication of the resurrection.
“….for as of yet they did not know the scripture, that He must rise from the dead.” John 20:9
It was only a few days earlier that Jesus spoke about this peace when He gave what some call His “farewell discourse” after the last supper. I think it was possible that He even reminded them of this during this first appearing, although it is not recorded in the Scriptures by John. Here are a few quotes from His discourse in John 14:
“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3
“I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also.” John 14:18-19
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You have heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.” John 14: 27-29
Eternal hope produces inner peace. This inner peace is powerful. Jesus empowers us with this peace so that we can endure with patience our journey through this life, so that we can continue in our well doing and not weary. Jesus said that He sends His disciples with this peace. He sends them with the same peace and security that the Father had sent Him with. Do not take this peace for granted.
Let me spell this out very clearly: If it is a reality to us that Jesus is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house, then our heart will not be troubled. This peace in our hearts is very powerful. The world seeks this peace and cannot find it. Many of our problems are the result of not having this peace, but rather living under stress, fear, confusion, etc.
When the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, the promise of eternal life became a reality to them. Thomas had to see the mark of the nails and the wound in His side to make it a reality, but we must make it a reality without seeing, but based only on the scriptural account of eye witnesses.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ “ John 20:29
May the Lord bless us with the faith to make the hope in the resurrection to eternal life a reality, so that we may gain the power that comes from the peace it brings, to enable us to endure till the end of our journey.