“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!’” John 20:19 (NIV)
When Jesus rose from the grave and appeared in the midst of His disciples meeting behind locked doors, I imagine they were stunned, shocked and overjoyed. With great intentionality, Jesus chose the words He used to greet them. Of all the themes He could have selected at that moment, He picked what they needed most. What was it?
While all of these certainly would have been appropriate, Jesus didn’t touch on any of them. He simply said over and over again, “Peace be with you!” According to John 20:19, it is the first thing He said. He said it again before breathing on them to receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22) Then when addressing Thomas and his doubts, He said it yet again. (John 20:26)
Each time Jesus is recorded as saying this in John 20, the NIV translation ends the sentence with an exclamation point. Not only was Jesus intentional but He was also emphatic. His words were conveyed with great emphasis and urgency.
Why peace? And why did Jesus use the particular phrase “Peace be with you!”?
I don’t know for sure, but I have my theories.
This world is very good at conjuring up facades. Moments of worldly happiness can appear “joyful,” but they’re fleeting. The world takes “hope” and mistakes it for positive, wishful thinking. “Love” has become an everyday word used to describe a feeling that can change quickly. “Reassurance” is often what we strive for on our own because we want to be the one in control.
The world’s offering of joy, hope, love and reassurance is fleeting, temporary and dangerously unstable.
“I got that promotion!” (Joy)
“I think we can afford this house!” (Hope)
“He likes spending time with me — I think he’s the one!” (Love)
“I think this is all going to work out just as I planned!” (Reassurance)
There’s nothing wrong with the moments of happiness or celebration we experience on this side of eternity; I do believe God gives us those as gifts. However, jobs can be lost in an instant, houses can be foreclosed on, relationships can end, and plans can change on a whim. The truth is: The world can’t really offer us peace.
It may give us temporary peace but not true, soul-settling, steady peace. Real peace that can be ours despite circumstances can only be found through Jesus being with us. That’s why Jesus phrased it the way He did: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). In other words, “You can walk through anything if you realize I am peace and I am with you.”
The kind of peace Jesus offers us is a peace that’s with us in the absence of trouble and in the presence of it. That means, regardless of the hardship you’re experiencing, you can experience peace right now.
Jesus knew what His disciples would continue to experience on this earth — persecution, suffering, disease, grief — as He chose His words for them. And while He couldn’t promise an ending to all the hard things, even after the resurrection, He did promise His peace would be with them. And He promises the same thing for you and me today.
Oh, friend, whatever you’re facing, I pray you make the choice to process every hard thing by factoring in that the presence of Jesus means the presence of peace. As we invite Him into our hardest moments, we invite His peace. Beyond all natural reasoning, I pray “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” today, tomorrow and forever (Philippians 4:7, NIV).
Thank You, Lord, that You are peace and You are with me. Help me to remember You are with me everywhere I go, no matter what the day may bring. Thank You for the promises of Scripture that You showed me today, that You will bring peace to every single circumstance I face on this side of eternity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
What would it look like for you to trust these words from Jesus today? Share with us in the comments!
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