18 April 2021
Peace be with you…PEACE…
We think of peace and the opposite of war might spring to mind. But what about the peace in our lives, our inner peace? We live in a world where we probably have more time and money than previous generations. We are surrounded with material things to aid our day to day lives. We have gadgetry, hi-technology and the education. We have modern medicine, fancy holidays and leisure pursuits that weren’t even dreamt of a few years ago. In fact, we have everything we need in order to make our lives stress-free and so aid a peaceful life. Or do we?
Unfortunately, the statistics tell us just the opposite. So, what does the word ‘peace’ conjure up in our minds?
- How about happy?
Well…let me tell you, those disciples in that locked room 2000 years ago didn’t feel any of those things when Jesus stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you.’
Peace, we are told passes all understanding. The thing is, is that we know, don’t we when we feel peace and when we don’t? And the disciples definitely didn’t! We are told that they were startled and terrified. Can’t blame them really but let’s just set the scene and figure out what happened just before Jesus appeared to his disciples. It was ‘the road to Emmaus’. The two disciples who had:
- walked with Jesus
- who had eaten with him
- and who had recognised him
- in the breaking of the bread’
They had dashed back to Jerusalem to share the news with the other disciples that they too had seen Jesus. So there they were in that upper room and Jesus appeared to them with the greeting ‘Peace be with you’. Not only were they astonished and terrified but all of them doubted…I think I would have too!
Doubt may come to all of us at times, however strong or secure our faith appears to be. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or even feared. Its a healthy reaction to some of life’s challenges. It’s an essential part of our journey and God is able to take that unbelief and help us through our times of testing and so make our faith stronger as a result. What Jesus does is meet us where we are and what he did in that upper room was to bring them back to reality…down to earth…real life.
First, he gave them physical proof. He showed them his hands and his feet. Then he asked for food and ate it in front of them. Definitely not something that a ghost would do! Did you notice that Jesus didn’t start telling them anything important until they are at ease with him being there? And then he spoke to them and began quoting the scriptures to them. We are told that ‘he opened their minds to understand the scriptures’. I like that bit, it really speaks to me…’he opened their minds to understand’. I like it because I know that in my own strength, I struggle but with God’s help, I’m not saying its easy but I know that he sees me through. He proved it over and over throughout my life. Sometimes, its only when we look back that we realise just how he did see us through.
So, there they were…the disciples with their minds opened, scriptures fulfilled and eye witnesses to the resurrected son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus ended with the good news about repentance and forgiveness and he sent them out to tell the world.
If we have good news, it’s a natural reaction to want to share it. Sometimes even to strangers. Have you ever done that? You’re told something that you are just bursting to tell someone about and you end up telling the nearest person. So…what about the greatest news of all, the message of Jesus Christ our Saviour? Do we find that we are just bursting to share it with whoever will listen? That’s exactly what those disciples in that upper room did. They had a story to tell and they went out to tell it.
We have that same story to tell and we meet many of the same challenges that they did. Back then, the story was all topical stuff to the people in Jerusalem because Jesus’ death was just days before. No one had a problem believing that Jesus was born or even that he was crucified…but the resurrection was something else! The words ‘too good to be true’ spring to mind. And it’s the same for us. It’s not for realists of the 21st century. But the thing is, it wasn’t the stuff for realists of the first century either.
Christianity was seen by the Roman authorities as a problematic cult religion. Yet, all that they had to do to stop Christianity dead in its tracks was to produce a body…
…but they didn’t – they couldn’t! It would have stopped all the speculation, all the unrest, everything……but they didn’t!
The disciples unlocked that door in the upper room so that they could use every opportunity to break down the barriers between man and God. The Word spread, the followers grew and Christianity became the biggest religion the world has ever known.
Those disciples didn’t have to respond to what happened on that day. They could have kept quiet, left Jerusalem, found a nice quiet place to hide away……but they didn’t.
They could have all agreed to keep what happened to themselves……but they didn’t!
Instead they unlocked the door and went out and spread the message that was too big to keep to themselves. And so now it is down to us…
We have that same free will. You are here today……why?
- You could have stayed at home,
- had a nice leisurely lie in,
- gone out for a walk
- a sit in someone’s garden,
- gone shopping even.
…but you didn’t?
You didn’t because 2000 years ago a meeting behind closed doors in an upper room took place and 13 people met the risen Lord. The made a decision that would change their lives and ours forever. Just 13 people had their terror replaced with peace and God saw them through. He will see us through too.
May the peace of the Lord be always with you. Amen.
(Revd. Julie Clarkson)