Peace Be With You!
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.” - John 20:19 (ESV)
I met him for the first time at the airport.
He was with a Georgian (non-English speaking) pastor who would be my host for the week. Thomas (not his real name) would be our interpreter. This tall, handsome, talented young man had recently arrived in Tbilisi (Georgia).
Over lunch, I discovered that Thomas was from Minsk, Belarus. We immediately recognized we had mutual friends from Minsk. “What caused you to move to Georgia?” I asked.
“I was willing to risk my life crossing the border rather than being condemned to death in an unjust war.”
His statement revealed his desperation. I had heard similar remarks from young men in Russia and Belarus who were willing to leave their homeland to avoid the war in Ukraine. Thomas’ comment reminded me of the young Russian man I met in Yerevan, Armenia, who told me a similar story as he wept openly, grieving the pain of having to leave his “Motherland.”
Thomas’ story is also the same for thousands of people worldwide. It reflects a deep longing for peace in a conflicted world.
In many ways, Thomas’ story reflects our story as well. Although we may not fear being conscripted into an unjust war, each of us face fear and uncertainty. Our world is conflicted. We live with the uneasiness of what’s ahead.
But our world has always been conflicted and uncertain. Just ask the disciples of Jesus as they are locked in a room, fearful of what will happen to them (John 20:19). The Jews had just killed Jesus. What was to prevent them from being next?
It’s the “Resurrected Jesus” who appears to his frightened disciples. His first words to them are: “Peace be with you.”
These words are more than a simple, polite greeting. They are more than pleasant “religious sounding” words. They are words capable of calming raging storms, comforting fearful hearts, and instilling assurance that produces confidence when life is chaotic.
Times were uncertain and unsettling for the disciples. Times are conflicting and troubling for Thomas and many living in Eastern Europe. And none of us are immune from contention, strife, and fear. It’s the world we live in.
However, the “Resurrected Jesus” continues to offer us words of HOPE: “Peace be with you.”
We have the advantage of looking back on history and seeing how God’s faithfulness advanced the Kingdom of God. We look back and see how — even in uncertain and complex times — the Church grew and Christianity expanded.
Times were uncertain then. They are unpredictable now. But the “Resurrected Jesus” continues to offer us “His Peace,” when we’re frightened and uneasy.
What concerns you today? What’s creating fear within you? What area of your life needs calming? Do you need to hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you?” He’s speaking those words to you now.
In many churches, when the pronouncement of “Peace be with you” is made, it is common for the people to extend the same proclamation back to the one who offered “the Peace,” by saying: “And also with you.”
It’s a reminder that we need the Peace of Christ no matter who we are. As you receive Christ’s Peace, who do you know who would benefit by hearing — and receiving — those words?
“Peace be with you.”
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