"...Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
'Peace be with you.'"
This past Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I kept thinking about the disciples and how they felt. Waiting in silence. Not knowing. Unsure. Questioning. All hopes shattered, broken to pieces like glass falling to the floor.
Was this all a lie? Did he deceive us? What do we do now? Where do we go from here? Are we next? Is denial our best option? Our only option? Do we admit we were wrong? Will they forgive us our treason?
The bible doesn’t tell us much about what happened between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Each of the renderings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John describe that period in a few sentences. Then they all make the shift by using one word.
“Now….” - Matthew 28:1
“When…” - Mark 16:1
“But…” - Luke 24:1
“Now…” - John 20:1
Though little is mentioned, we can only imagine the time between what came before each of these words and what comes after had to be a very perplexing time for the disciples.
Pain and grief are regular and natural occurrences in the midst of death, especially the death of someone we love. Often times in the wake of a loss there is a period of disbelief. Denial. The words, “This really can’t be happening right now!” haunt our thoughts.
I imagine this is the state the disciples were in. Like I said, the bible doesn’t give detail of their actions much less their emotions or thoughts. But they were human. They had lived their lives faithfully following Jesus up and down the dusty highways and byways of Israel. They loved Him. They felt the loss.
Verse 19 of John 20 gives us the best description of what was going on during that day. The day of rest. The sabbath that followed Jesus’ burial.
As the Jews were celebrating their victory, the disciples were consumed with fear. Locked away in a room. Guarded.
In our reading it is merely a brief moment. A few verses. Sentences and words. But in real time? Seconds turned to minutes which turned to hours. When verse 19 of John 20 arrives, two full days had passed since they pulled Jesus down from the cross. Two full days of dismay, worry, and doubt. Two full days fearing the Jews would come for them next. Two full days of not knowing what to do with their lives.Two full days of wondering, and probably arguing, about whether or not the past 3 years of their lives was a total sham.
All they had staked their lives on was gone.
Then, Jesus walks into the room and says, “Peace be with you.”
Wow! I wonder if in that moment the disciples remembered the time on the boat when He spoke to the winds and waves. “Peace! Be Still!” and all was calmed.
Every fear was stopped dead in it’s tracks by that familiar voice speaking that needed word.
How often do we live our lives in the time between the crucifixion and resurrection? How often do we find ourselves cowering in fear? Questioning the truth? Doubting whether or not this is real? Not knowing what is next for us?
One of the first effects of the resurrection of Jesus we see demonstrated is God bringing peace to chaos. Peace to fear. There is no fear that can keep Him out. Even though the door remained locked, Jesus came right on in. He stood in their midst. Then He made Himself known by voicing the word that pacifies the fiercest of storms.
But the implication goes beyond our natural fears. When Jesus stepped in and said “Peace be with you” He was stating that these men, because of the resurrection, now have peace with God. There is no longer wrath stored up for their sin. God’s wrath was appeased by the crucifixion and now peace is made available through the resurrection.
Jesus is the peace that stills and calms every fear. Jesus is the truth that answers every doubt filled question. Jesus is the way by which we journey from this point on. He is the direction we go. Jesus is the life that defeated death.
Now, because of the crucifixion and the resurrection we can unlock the doors, bust open the shutters, and step into this world with the confidence that HE IS RISEN! HE IS OUR KING!
We don’t have to live our lives as if we are in the time between the crucifixion and resurrection. We don't have to live in fear. There is a certainty we can know. An assurance that God has done more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine to reconcile us to Himself, make us His own, and bring us into the fullness of His Kingdom. There is a promise of life beyond what is here and now.
There is a certitude that what lies beyond those locked doors of fear is no match for the Resurrection and the Life, the Captain of the Lords armies, the Author and Perfecter of faith, the Lamb of God, the True Vine, the Righteous Branch, the Great Shepherd, the Word of God, the Almighty, who is and who was and who is to come, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. He is all powerful and matchless.
Not even death itself could defeat Him.
There is peace for us today because He is risen!
He is risen indeed!