Even though I have read a specific scripture many times, I can always discover something new about a passage! Since we just celebrated Easter less than two weeks ago, I have still been reading about the events during this period of sacred history. Today the verse that stands out for me is John 20:19. These are the first words Jesus speaks to his disciples after his resurrection: “Peace be with you!” He didn’t say, “Hi!” or “Glad to see you!” This must have been a pressing message that Jesus wanted to share with these men. I can identify with this sense of urgency. If I want to share something exciting with my daughter, I will call her and probably the first thing I will say is, “Guess what!” and then go on to share whatever is on my mind. At a time like this, I most likely forget the phone etiquette of asking how she is or what she is doing before sharing my news with her. Now back to Jesus, he simply said, “Peace be with you!” The setting for this statement is in a locked room where the disciples were hiding from the Jews. I think about how reassuring these words must have been to these eleven men. The end of verse 20 records that the disciples were overjoyed with this message.
What is this peace that Jesus is so excited about sharing with his disciples? According to the definition in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, peace comes from the Greek word “eirene” and is defined as being a state of rest, quietness, and calmness; an absence of strife; tranquility. It can refer to a harmonious relationship between God and men or among people. When Jesus spoke these words, the disciples needed peace in both of these respects. They needed peace with God because they did not understand everything that had happened over the last few days and their minds were in turmoil. They needed peace regarding their relationships with other people because their fear of the Jews resulted in their hiding in a locked room. However, this is not the first time Jesus shared with his disciples about their need for peace. in John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Is Jesus still speaking these words of peace to me today? Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” If these words of Jesus have been preserved in scripture for me, then Jesus must have known there would be times when I would feel afraid. He is still offering me His peace for these times! (An interesting study to do by oneself would be to look up scriptural references of God telling various people not to be afraid.)
I have been reading Steve Fry’s book, I AM. Steve points out that peace is the only fruit of the Spirit that cannot be cultivated by choice. (p. 185) I cannot choose to simply be peaceful, but peace is a byproduct of other choices. Peace is not just a feeling that is the opposite of being anxious. Peace permeates me when I am in the presence of the Prince of Peace. Psalm 29:11 says, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Then Paul tells me in Colossians 3:15 to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart. The Lord chooses to bless me with peace, but I must choose to let this peace be in my heart through multiple choices I make regarding how I live my life.
In Isaiah 26:3, the prophet says that God will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in God. So, my Reader, may you and I keep our minds upon the Prince of Peace and trust Him as much as possible. The result will be our receiving the same peace into our lives that Jesus offered to the disciples the first time he saw them after his resurrection. Remember, today Jesus still says, “Peace be with you!”
Thought for the week: You will not know peace by only giving God a piece of your life.
Challenge for the week: Extend the peace of God to someone else this week by sharing this blog with them.