Easter Sunday is typically the highest attended Sunday in a church’s year. Any guess for the lowest attended Sunday? Yep, the Sunday following Easter. That’s probably NOT the effect that the Resurrection is to have on us. In fact, it’s to have quite the opposite. And in Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances we get a sense of how the Resurrection is to impact our lives.
[You can view this blog as a vlog here.]
In the gospel of John, we see a very intentional noting of Jesus’ first words out of His resurrected mouth to His disciples: Peace be with you. Jesus said it first to the group of disciples in John 20, then He repeated those exact words to Thomas when He saw him a week later: Peace be with you. Jesus could have greeted His disciples many different ways, especially given the fact that the last time He saw them they were not having their finest hour.
So, there must have been something to the fact that Jesus was very intentional with His first resurrected words to His closest followers.
There was. And still is.
Earlier with His disciples Jesus had frontloaded His work on the cross by telling them that He will be giving them His peace (John 14), which is a peace far different than anything the world can give. Because of this peace He assured them they did not need to be afraid nor let their hearts be troubled.
Yet when Jesus saw them after His resurrection, the disciples were afraid and troubled, huddling together behind a locked door for fear of the Jewish leadership. It’s here that Jesus showed up behind that locked door and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
The apostle Paul later explained this peace, giving us a clue as to why “peace” was such an appropriate lead-in word for Jesus when seeing the disciples:
Colossians 1:21-22 (The Message)
At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
No matter how disjointed and chaotic our lives might be (especially as we recover from a busy Easter weekend), we can rest in the knowledge that Jesus accomplished something for us that nothing else can: He closed the gap between us and God, thus eliminating the turmoil caused by that gap. He gave us an opportunity to “put our lives together.”
We can spend a good part of our lives in chaos of some kind, with hearts that are troubled and afraid.
- We’re often presented with circumstances we don’t know how to fix: from a strong-willed three-year-old to a leaky toilet seal, not that I have specifics in mind.
- We can find ourselves thrust into circumstances we don’t understand: from relationships that have gone sideways to health concerns that have gone bad.
- We can find ourselves suddenly in situations where we feel in over our heads: drowning in debt or buried beneath an unforgiving workload.
And then there’s this: All of these situations give myriad opportunities to create even more chaos by our making make bad decisions or reacting out of our flesh. But there is one thing we CAN get right. Live out of the peace that Jesus made possible for us to know.
The disciples were in similar circumstances those first few days after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter had denied knowing Jesus: I’m sure He was wondering how to fix that. The disciples were certainly in circumstances they did not understand, and they were undoubtedly feeling in over their heads.
So, when we see Jesus saying to His disciples “Peace be with you”, we can hear Jesus saying to them, and to us: “Be at peace. What I just did for you by dying on the cross was give you a chance to put your lives together. No matter what’s going on around you, you can rest in the fact that all the warring factions in your heart are at peace, the gap between you and God is closed, the tension that was created by that gap is gone. Be at peace!”
Here is my takeaway: As I navigate circumstances I don’t know how to fix, as I live through circumstances I don’t understand, as I face insurmountable odds in being in over my head, I can rest in the knowledge that there is one right thing I can do: step into all of these situations with the peace that Jesus has given me. It’s a peace that passes understanding and actually guards my heart (Philippians 4:7); it’s a peace that I can lavish in because my life is reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22); it’s a peace that is nothing like anything else in this world, a peace that gives me the courage to not be afraid.
And so, I leave you with those first resurrected words of Jesus to His disciples, “Peace be with you.”
Read/share a teen devo version of this blog post here.
View vlog version here: