“Peace be with you!”
The resurrection appearances of Jesus after His triumph over death are full of rich and refreshing truths. Everything he does and every word he speaks was intended as a means of encouragement for worried, troubled and insecure disciples. Let’s focus on one short statement. Three times in John 20 Jesus assures his disciples – “Peace be with you!” The first time is in vs 19 when he meets all the disciples except Thomas as they are fearfully behind locked doors. He shows them his hands and side to assure them it really is Him their Lord and Saviour. The peace he proclaims is on the basis not only of who he is but also on what he has done for them in his finished work on Calvary’s cross. He has established an eternal peace between God and his people forever purchased by His precious blood.
He had demonstrated his authority before over winds and storms and spoken his commanding “Peace, be still.” The calm, stillness and quiet of nature returned to the lake and to troubled fearful hearts that night. Here in John 20 the storm was different. The opposition and possible further persecution, even death, was a real fear and worry for the disciples. So seeing the risen Christ and hearing Him proclaim his peace was a wonderful calming comfort. Then a week later Jesus again stands among his disciples proclaiming His perfect peace. This time in the context of Thomas’ doubt and uncertainty. Seeing was believing for Thomas but Jesus commends believing without seeing as it brings the commendation of His blessedness. This blessed assurance that flows from the Lord’s peacemaking for us gives us great security and stability.
Our circumstances at the moment with all their challenges and uncertainties are of course different to the first disciples. But the desire and ability of Christ to proclaim His peace to us is undoubted. By His word and Spirit He communicates his peace to us in a variety of ways. His promised presence in all situations brings a peace, calm and confidence assuring us that we are not alone. May the Prince of Peace grant us in our homes and hearts His felt presence of peace guarding, strengthening and comforting mind and heart.
Bishop E.H Bickersteth wrote a hymn after hearing a sermon on the text – “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.
It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to heaven’s perfect peace.
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road