Under the Cross: Peace Be with You
By Eric J. Brown
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." (John 20:19)
So Much Fear
Understandable fear. The disciples had just seen Jesus killed in a most horrific way by an angry mob, so they were hiding for their lives. Even having heard of the resurrection, they were hiding. Yet, the fear of man has never stopped Jesus from being a merciful and gracious Lord. He shows on up right there in the middle of that locked room and proclaims peace. Peace! You are forgiven. See, I've died and I have been raised. The strife is o'er, the battle done! And you will be proclaimers of that same peace!
And yet, what do we see a week later? Still locked doors. Still fear. Of course there is--the world is still a scary place. The disciples have lived a week full of that fear, full of doubt and disbelief. And so the doors get locked again, but Jesus is persistent. He shows up anyway and proclaims His peace again. He even does so to poor fearful Thomas. Yes, Jesus' peace is really for you, even you who are hiding in fear.
In the meaning of the First Commandment, we say that we should "fear" God above all things. With these words we are actually acknowledging that there is a lot in this world that we could-- and to a certain extent should--be afraid of. And there are a lot of people who gain power and profit off of making you afraid. And our fears drive us to do crazy and strange, horrible things-- things that are destructive to ourselves and to our neighbor. Yet, in reality, rather than listening to our fears, the One whom we should fear, the One whom we should be most worried about ticking off or annoying, is God.
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
And so we think He's going to just hammer us, but there comes Jesus, striding into this rat's nest of fear, and He says, "Peace be with you." Peace! I'm not here to smite, I'm here to establish peace and conquer sin, death, and Satan. I'm here to show that all the punishment has been taken up by Me. Fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18), but you are in My perfect love. You are mine, you are in Me, and so there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). This is where you live. This is the truth that the world and your sinful flesh want you to forget. You are baptized into Christ and He says Peace be with you. He means it. And His peace is stronger than any fear you face in this world. After all, His peace raises folks from the dead.
Rev. Eric J. Brown is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois.
This article was originally published on the Higher Things website in April 2018.
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