“Late Sunday evening when the disciples were together behind locked doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said, and then he showed them his hands and his side. So when the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus repeated, ‘Peace be with you…'” John 20:19-20
Christ had been crucified like a common criminal. He died and with Him died the courage of His followers. His body buried in a cave. Similarly, 10 of the remaining 11 disciples caved themselves behind locked doors. They buried themselves, hiding in fear of what Jewish leaders would do to them next. Terror was palpable.
For three years Jesus walked with them, led them, taught them, inspired them. His Presence had been their courage, their protection, their peace. Now all of that was gone, vaporized with Christ’s last breath at Calvary. Despite Mary’s proclamation earlier that day, “I have seen the Lord!”, there was no celebration among these men. Only shaking in their sandals. For all Jesus taught them and revealed to them… parables, sermons, signs, wonders, miracles, fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures…it came down to this. A backroom gathering of fearful, forgetful followers.
John 20:19 says, “Jesus came and stood among them…” I wonder, in their desperation for solutions, did they notice Him at first? Or were they too busy fretting over their circumstances? Were they reliving in heated conversation Christ’s arrest leading to his death? Did they argue over who was to blame? “John, you should have stayed awake with Him in the garden.” “Peter, you ought not have lost your temper with the soldier.”
How long did Jesus stand in their midst before He cleared His throat and spoke? “Peace be with you.” Was it a shout? A whisper? Perhaps a simple observation that peace found its way into the room the moment His Presence entered.
Peace. The first thing Jesus spoke to His disciples was the very thing they needed most. Fear that gripped them melted away as they beheld Christ’s hands and side. The frightened group witnessed the Presence of Jesus and the Bible says, “…they were filled with JOY.”
How many instances in my life have I behaved like the disciples in hiding? Locked up with my emotions and fears. Fretting over my personal
circumstances. Playing my situation over and over in my head. Feeling apprehensive and uncertain about my future. Wondering, “Where is God now?”
As if He knew the message bore repeating to distracted hearts like Peter’s, and
John’s…and mine…Jesus said a second time, “Peace be with you.”
Today as waves of my circumstances crash against shorelines of my existence I hear His voice. “Peace.” My deepest need is met in the presence of my resurrected Lord as He stands between me and the unknown. It is this Peace of His Presence which leads me to JOY.