June 10, 2020
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
On Monday we looked at this verse from the perspective of circumstance. Chaos and danger reign. In the midst of fear and madness, Jesus draws near. But today, let’s look at the disciples and what they are doing. We know how Jesus responded to the crucifixion—but how did the disciples respond?
Jesus spent years trying to prepare the disciples for his absence. He warned them again and again that circumstances would be dangerous and deadly. They would face persecution and rejection. Yet the first test of his crack team of disciples goes poorly by any measure. Judas betrayed him. James and John, in Jesus’ moment of greatest need, fell asleep instead of praying with him. Peter responded first with violence (grabbing a sword and chopping off someone’s ear) and then later by denying Jesus completely. At Jesus’ arrest, we read that all his disciples deserted him and fled. One disciple (probably Mark) in his desperation to escape, left his clothes in the clutches of the soldiers and slipped away naked. Now they are huddled in a locked room, full of fear.
Suddenly Jesus appears among them and addresses them for the first time since his resurrection. If you were the leader of that group, what would your first words be?
I’m reminded of all the times I have left the house, giving my kids clear instructions on what needed to be done while I was gone. At least half the time, I return home to find it undone. If you are a boss, maybe you left for vacation, and returned to find minimal progress was made in your absence. Teachers and professors, have you ever received an assignment that failed to follow your crystal clear requirements? Like you, my first words have never been, “Peace be with you!”
But that’s what Jesus says. Why were those his first words? I interpret it as Jesus saying, “I understand that the world is crazy right now. I understand that you are scared. I know you blew it and failed your first test. But none of that matters right now, because I’m here to help you find the way forward.” In one short statement we see Jesus knowing, forgiving, and promising his presence. It’s the gospel story in four words.
Do you need to hear Jesus offer peace today? Do you feel like a failure or feel afraid? Are you overwhelmed by your newsfeed or responsibilities? Today, take time to listen. Hear Jesus speak his peace over every circumstance and relationship, promising to help you find the way forward.