On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
- John 20:19-22
It has been a rough year so far for our family. Relationship struggles, constant problems with our house, job struggles, financial strains and so on, it is easy to try and pull the covers over my head rather than get out of bed each morning. I'm afraid of what could go wrong next and add to it all how I'm troubled by personal attacks, I seize up. If that is not bad enough, I turn on the news and see bleak narratives filling my screen... even if I did go out, what am I going out to? Persecution? Attacks? A deaf and wayward world?
I guess that is why, while reading in the after-math of Resurrection day this week, tried and true passages began to POP out at me. Here are the disciples, locked up in a room, essentially hiding out from the Jews who were presumably the religious leaders responsible for Jesus' Crucifixion a few days earlier. Doors locked and Scripture tells us they were "in fear". In this state: Jesus appears.
He comes and stands among them and what is the first thing He says?
Peace be with you.
We could assume this is a greeting, the customary "Shalom" which Jews often exchanged upon encounters, however, a mere greeting, to my thinking, would only be needed once..."Hello, Shalom, I am here, look at me, how are you?" But he doesn't say it just once. After showing them his scars, John tells us the disciples were "glad" to see Jesus and then Scripture goes on to record how He said to them again, “Peace be with you."
Locked in, hidden, and afraid... the disciples are suddenly encountered by Jesus, who just pops right on in and then says PEACE be with you. No small talk is recorded, just peace and presence which seems to imply a call for them to stop being afraid. As a matter of fact, he doesn't just dispel their fear, no, the second time he adds that He has a mission for them. As if to say, 'stop being afraid and hiding out, BECAUSE there is work to do.' What is this mission?
As the Father has sent me.... I am sending you.
Well that is not a very detailed mission... or is it? "As the Father sent me...", what is this "as"? We don't have to go far to find out...
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
- John 18:37
God sent Jesus to bear witness to the truth. Then, in this locked room, He tells them peace be with you and As the Father sent me, I am sending you.... I was bearing witness to the truth... now you bear witness to the truth. I did it to the point of persecution and death... you do it to the point of persecution and death if you must. These are marching orders, intended to be carried out despite their fear.
It is a scary world out there. Sure, peace. Sure, mission. But HOW can they find strength and focus to carry it all out? How about with a breath of fresh air? No, literally! He breathed on them... why? to impart the Holy Spirit... the POWER to do what he had asked them to do. Much like God did in Genesis, breathing life into the lungs of man... now He breathes new life into those who see Him, who are truly glad in Him.
I never paused long enough to really SEE this before... to soak up the 3-point truth here:
- TWICE, Jesus says "Peace be with you", earlier in John He would explain how His peace is not a worldly peace but rather, it is something more tangible and sustainable.
- AS God sends Jesus, through good and bad to bear witness to Truth, so He sends us with that model
- He doesn't just command us but He also equips us with the greatest Power-source, the Holy Spirit
I pray you would join me in not letting insecurities or fears hold you back from peace and the call of Christ. We can muster strength from the Spirit within and experience Victory in the end for he hasn't only given purpose but He has also breathed LIFE!
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