April 3, 2024

“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!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” – John 20:19-20

They had endured the trials of that holy week in Jerusalem. Jesus entered the city to the waving of palms and the shouting of “Hosannah.” Shortly after that Jesus was betrayed, arrested, brutalized, and killed. This struck fear into the hearts of the ones who followed Jesus so closely.

When Sunday arrived, they found the tomb empty. Some of the disciples saw the empty tomb for themselves. They were filled with hope that Jesus was alive. They were also filled with fear that they would be the next people to be arrested and persecuted.

In John’s Gospel, in the very chapter that tells of the empty tomb, Jesus’ resurrection, and His appearance to Mary Magdalene, we find many of the disciples locked in a room, fearing for their lives. I can only imagine what was going through their minds as the hid in fear for their lives.

John records that Jesus appeared in the room and stood among the disciples. The locks on the doors and the secrecy of their location could not separate them from Jesus. With great ease, Jesus rejoined his friends, and they were, “overjoyed.”

The first words that Jesus spoke, when he appeared in that room, were, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:21) In one moment the disciples were able to breathe. Their racing heart rates slowed. They were no longer looking over their shoulders for an enemy, but now they were looking at the One who called them to faith and service. As God had done so many other times in history, God spoke peace in a time of tension and conflict. Once the disciples were at peace, Jesus was able to remind them that they were not called to hide in fear. Jesus’ disciples were called to go into the world and share the message of peace and forgiveness.

We are just a few days past Easter. We find ourselves in the much the same mindset as the first disciples. Our world is chaotic and filled with so many things that can provoke fear in each of us. However, the same message of peace is for us, as well. Jesus says, “Peace be with you!” It is not a peace that ignores the trials of the world and the things that cause each of us to worry. It is a peace that comes to us because we are in the presence of the One who overcame the grave. In Jesus, love and grace are with us, and for us, because nothing can separate us from Him. Today, when you mind focuses on the things that cause you to worry, remember that you are not alone. Our Lord is with us. With Him, we have peace. With Him, we find the strength and courage to share God’s love with the world.

Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship