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Peace Be With You

Peace Be With You!       John 20: 19-31

Peace be with youJohn’s Gospel presents Jesus as the very Word of God, one with God (John 1:1). He is the one Word that brings peace. Following Jesus’ death and mysterious resurrection the disciples experience a range of emotions: confusion, disappointment, grief, fear, uncertainty. Peace is one thing they clearly lack. Jesus returns from the grave as he promised. Yet the disciples remain imprisoned in their tombs behind locked doors after eight long days ‘for fear of the Jews’ [20:19]. Without peace they may as well be dead.

Jesus visits them twice during that week and twice says to them, ‘Peace be with you’ [vv19, 21]. Perhaps he was repeating himself to make a point. On his third visit a week later, Jesus says it again [v26] yet their fear and lack of trust continues to lock up their hearts and minds.

Eventually they unbolt and throw open the doors, and risking all, go forth with the commission given by the risen Christ. And we have come to believe in the Lord Jesus because they did.

The resurrection may be an interesting historical fact, but if that’s all it is, it has little value for us today. This week’s readings offer the assurance that God’s life is available to us now in Christ. In both Peter’s preaching and his letter he affirms that Christ’s resurrection is real and is a promise that God’s life is available to all.

The Psalm, which Peter quotes in his Pentecost sermon, expresses the assurance of God’s care and life, and is taken by Peter as a prophecy of Christ’s resurrection.

Finally, in the Gospel reading, John demonstrates how Christ’s resurrection inspires and empowers his disciples, and how Thomas is dramatically drawn into faith. Together, these readings give us a basis for confidence as we face the challenges – the ‘little deaths’ – of each day, and they invite us to experience Christ’s resurrection life now, not just after we have died. Resurrection is not just an amazing thing that happened long ago – it can be our lived experience every moment!

 

John 20:19-31                    Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’  24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

 

Acts 2: 14, 22-32                Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 22‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know — 23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25For David says concerning him, “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my flesh will live in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” 29‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, “He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.” 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.