When the “Same Old Same Old” is Very Welcome
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So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. – Luke 24:13-27
We’ve been watching The Chosen, the dramatic TV mini-series about Jesus’ impact on his first disciples and those whose lives he touched directly during his ministry on earth. One of my favorite lines in the drama has the Jesus character speaking to Peter. Peter says, “This is different.” To which Jesus replies, “Get used to different.” That’s very true to Jesus’ own words in Revelation 21:5, “Behold I make all things new.”
Most days that is really good news. New hope. New life. New courage. New opportunities. New blessings. New insights. Even new challenges. All of these bolster our spirits. All of these bring anticipation of better things to come.
But sometimes the old is not just familiar. Sometimes the same thing is good. Take this encounter with Jesus. Luke records how Jesus appeared to his disciples and offered the blessing: “Peace to you.” This is an old greeting. But it’s not worn out. It’s not passé. It’s a greeting from the heart of God to his people who really needed to hear Jesus speak in these terms. They had anything but peace. And against the backdrop of fear, disappointment, confusion, and emotional turmoil Jesus’ words were truly welcome.
One of my great privileges as a pastor is to speak similar words to the people who gather for worship: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. I hope the people who hear these words are happy to hear them not only because they signal the end of the worship service, but because this heartfelt blessing offers a gift from God that calms their hearts and brings them comfort and courage.
The disciples who heard Jesus’ greeting of peace certainly did need both comfort and courage. I do too. How about you?