Jesus’ peace is not the same as simply saying “shalom,” the Greek word for peace. But Christ said to the disciples, “Peace be with you”.
The Psalmist says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.”(Psalm 133:1-2)
We cannot say too much, nor do enough, to persuade people to live together in peace. Peace is good for honor and comfort. It brings constant delight to those who live in peace.
David likened the pleasantness of peace and unity to the holy anointing oil. As a fruit of the spirit, peace is proof of our union with Christ. Peace, as Psalm 133:1 puts it, adorns Christ’s gospel. Minister and biblical commentator Matthew Henry says, “Peace is profitable, as well as pleasing; it brings blessings as numerous as the drops of dew.”
In John 20: 19-23 we read, “Later on that first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, they had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, ‘Peace be with you’.”Then He showed them His hands and side.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. “Jesus repeated His greeting: ‘Peace Be with you’. Just as the Father sent me, I send you. Then He took a deep breath and breathed onto them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’, He said. ‘If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them’?”
Christ appeared on Resurrection Day, which scripture says, “being the first day of the week”(John 20:19 KJV) and it was in the evening. This brought special honor to the day we now call Sunday.
It wasn’t that the disciples intended to put honor on that day, for they were still in doubt about everything. But God, it seems designed to place honor on Sunday.
The disciples probably met in the Upper Room to hide out, but perhaps it was also for some religious exercises like prayer. This meeting was private, because they dared not appear publicly, especially as the followers of Christ.
Perhaps they simply met to know each other’s thinking, or to strengthen each other’s hands, but regardless of why they had come together, there was no peace in that room that day!
Eight days later, His disciples were again in the Upper Room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus again came through the locked doors, stood among them, and again said, “Peace be with you.”(John 20:26 MSG)
Christ knew about Thomas’ doubt, and yet He was pleased to show himself to Thomas, too, rather than just leave Thomas wallowing in his unbelief.
We, too, are to follow Christ’s example — to bear with the weak-in-faith and the doubting novice. This is a warning given to all; if we are faithless, we are Christ-less and graceless; therefore, hopeless and joyless, and there is no peace in this.
There is a special point to be noted here: the marks on Christ’s body yet remained, though He was now without pain. This was to demonstrate that Jesus arose. He had not only overcome death, in three days, He had also overcome the pain and the suffering.
It is comforting to Christ’s disciples, whenever we assemble (Saturday or Sunday), to know that no doors can shut out Christ’s presence.
Christ speaking of this peace makes peace, He creates the fruit of the spirit we now call peace. His speaking peace makes peace with God. He has created peace in our conscience. He helps us maintain peace with one another. Through Him, all this peace is within us; and it is not the same as peace in the world, for it is the real peace — the kind of peace only found in Christ.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.