Peace Be With You

When it comes to Jesus’ resurrection, Easter morning gets all the attention—understandably so. But don’t forget what happened Easter evening. John recounts the story for us: “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.’” (20:19)

The disciples are gathered, probably in the same room where they had shared Passover with Jesus a few nights before. Now He’s gone, and they’ve locked the door for fear of what their association with Him might mean for them. Suddenly, Jesus is there right among them! Before they can react, He speaks.

If you were one of them, what might you expect Him to say? The last time Jesus saw most of these men, they were turning their backs on Him and fleeing for their lives. He could have reminded them. Rebuked them. Lectured them about paying attention to His warnings. Shamed them with everything He went through alone while they were hiding.

Instead He blesses them: “Peace be with you.” He stands in the middle of their uneasy little gathering, not as a Judge pointing out their sins, but as the Prince of Peace, absolving them of their failure. He anoints them with His grace and washes them in His love.

How can He treat these guys that way? Because their peace is why He went to the cross in the first place. He’s offering to them the peace of God because He has just achieved for them peace with God. That’s why He follows His blessing with this gesture: “When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” (v20)

The “peace of God” is an inner sense of calm, granted as supernatural gift from God. But this kind of peace is impossible without “peace with God”—an end to our mutual hostility and the permanent establishment of perfect harmony. It’s the achievement He celebrated in His last words from the cross: “It is finished” (19:30). Sin was paid. God’s wrath was fully expressed. His work was done—which is why it’s possible for Jesus to speak this word to them here. “Peace be with you” is the perfect counterpart to “It is finished.”

The peace of God doesn’t mean your life is free from hardship. It just means that, once peace with God is achieved, the rest will take care of itself. If you are at peace with God right now, you can be sure that someday soon, you will be at peace with everything else.

“Love’s redeeming work is done / Fought the fight, the battle won. Death in vain forbids Him rise / Christ has opened paradise!”