So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” – John 20:19-23
Woe to those who say, “Peace! Peace!” when there is no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14 & others). This was the warning to the prophets of the Old Testament who offered false hope. Some were saying all was well – or soon would be, when in fact God had not yet brought them to the place of peace.
Jesus comes to his frightened and cowering disciples and twice offers a greeting of peace. Not once. Not casual. Sincere. True. Life-giving. Heart-calming. Peace is a glorious and delightful gift. It is a place of wholeness, balance, tranquility, and favor. When Jesus offers this greeting it comes from the storehouse of peace that he won by his suffering and death, and secured now by his resurrection from the dead.
Sometimes we need to hear this word of peace in the face of the tumult of a broken relationship and personal enmity. Your friend who was at war with you – for just cause or not – offers the olive branch of peace. Your sworn enemy who has sought your doom, defeat, and distress at every turn, offers his hand in peace. Relief. Comfort. Solace. Peace.
Sometimes we need to hear this word in the face of the turmoil in our souls. We struggle with guilt or shame and wish for a night of peaceful rest. We stress about situations over which we have no control. We battle unexplainable anxiety or bouts of soul-crippling fear for reasons we don’t understand. Then the Holy Spirit invades our hearts and puts our souls at peace. Anxiety flees. Fear dissolves. Stress evaporates. Same and guilt have been nailed to the cross. Peace prevails.
Then comes the blessing of being able to proffer that same gift to others. For when we forgive someone we offer true peace. When we forgive our enemy we make the way for peace. When we absolve our brother or sister in Christ we pour oil on the troubled waters of their being.
Peace! Peace! What a gift Jesus gives. What a blessing to embrace.