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Peace be With You
by Elaine Pierce
It's easy to overlook these five verses. Right before this, we read the dramatic story of when Mary recognizes the Risen Christ at the tomb. Right after this, we read about how Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus is alive until he sees him face to face (despite all the other disciples assuring him that, yes, Jesus is alive).
These five verses almost seem anticlimactic. The disciples are together in a locked room. Jesus somehow (scripture doesn't tell us how) enters the room, and says "Peace be with you!" The disciples express their amazement and joy at seeing Jesus, and he again says "Peace be with you!" And then he breathes on them and gives them the Holy Spirit.
Why do you suppose they are in a locked room? Scripture tells us the door is locked "for fear of the Jews." As far as the Jewish leadership knew, Jesus was dead, and the rabble rousing band of disciples of the Rabbi, Jesus, had been effectively crushed. They no longer were a threat to the Jewish power structure, and yet, they were afraid. They had lost their leader, their vision, their mooring. They huddled together in a locked room.
These five verses tell the story of the evening of the first day of the week, the same day that Mary met Jesus at the tomb and shared this life-changing news with the disciples. But they were not ready to trust her words. They gathered in fear. And yet, Jesus doesn't give up on them. Twice in these verses, and again in verse 26, he says "Peace be with you." He shows them his hands and side where the Roman soldiers pierced him as he died on the cross. He gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is comforting to know that the disciples had doubts and fears, just like I do. God chose to send his Son to live a perfect life and to die for our sins, and all we have to do is accept this gift of grace and mercy. When we cower in fear, let's remember that Jesus is here, and he is saying "Peace be with you." He may not take away the challenging circumstances we face, or the difficult person in our life, or the frightening health diagnosis. But he gives us so much more. Be encouraged and strengthened as you meditate on this verse:
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
Lord, your peace is unlike any other, and we long to experience it, and yet, we so often fail to accept it. Help us today and this week to seek your peace, even in the midst of fears and anxiety. Thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit, and for the gift of forgiveness. Amen.