On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" John 20:19
Imagine the worst crisis of your life. Everything you hold dear is destroyed, all that was familiar is now painfully strange, the one thing to which you have devoted the most recent years of your life is gone, and your peace is laying in a pile of rubble on the floor. Your heart is gripped by fear, and, having no sense of direction or guidance, you lock yourself into your room to hide in what has now become your only safe place.
Have you ever felt that way, either metaphorically or literally?
Such was the scene in John 20:19, just over 48 hours after Christ's horrific death on the cross. In a room in Jerusalem with a locking door, we find 11 disciples hiding behind that lock for fear of the Jews. Jesus was dead, the Sabbath was over, an empty tomb had been discovered just that morning, and nothing made sense anymore. Before their very eyes, the person to whom they had devoted the past three years of their lives had been turned into a mere object...the object of hate, scorn, wrath, and rejection. They had been powerless to stop it, and despite the love of their beloved Teacher, they were now alone and afraid.
It was in the middle of this scene that Christ appears in the room with them. He didn't warn them He was coming, He did not knock on the door, He just appeared and started speaking. And the very first words He spoke were "Peace be with you!". The gospel of John then goes on to describe how Jesus showed them his scars, how everyone was overjoyed, and how He began to teach them once again. But where I want to stop now is on those first four simple words...
Peace be with you.
On the surface, one may read this account and think, "Well, that was just His cordial greeting. What happens next is the most important part of the story". And yes, that may true. The portrayal of our very doubtful human nature, the joy of realizing that the resurrected Lord is an absolutely real truth, the instruction of the Master-to not just His disciples but all mankind-is the basis for living our Christian faith today...all of those elements are critical aspects of this passage. But I also know that Christ never said anything unimportant, and no words of His, even a simple greeting, can be passed over too quickly.
Peace be with you.
As far as we can understand, infer, or even fathom, peace was probably the farthest thing from those disciples' minds in that moment. Peace? Seriously? Right now?? Have you seen what we just went through out there? Have you already forgotten the torture, rejection, shame, scorn, and wrath we just saw? Don't you realize you have left us alone in an angry, vengeful world? Peace?? Be serious!
Peace be with you. The bedrock of soul-lifting, these are the first words spokes to the beloved disciples after the worst crisis of their lives, and they carry far greater weight than we think. More than a cordial greeting, those four words of Christ's are a command. Remember, this is the Man whose saliva reversed blindness. This the the Man who commanded a dead body to come forth after days in the tomb. And this man Jesus is the Man who calmed a raging sea with just His voice. This Man is the Man...and now He is commanding peace.
Picture once again this scene in John 20:19...the locked door, the fear, the hurt...and now picture Jesus' peace literally literally flyjng like a laser beam right into the disciples' hearts. His peace is real, it is perfect, it is healing, and just like the disciples, it is ours. I pray that this day, no matter what you are going through, you would allow Christ to appear in the middle of your locked and scared places, and command his laser beam peace right into your heart.
Peace be with you.