On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”
Meaning of the Greeting
Jesus had risen from the dead. Now he appeared to his followers. What’s the first thing he said to them? “Peace be with you!” What did he mean by that?
This was more than a usual greeting. Jesus was not just saying, “Hello! How are you?” He meant something special by what he said. He even repeated it, so the disciples got what he was saying.
At first, we might guess that “peace be with you” was Jesus’ way of addressing the disciples’ fear. They had every reason to be afraid for their lives since their leader had just been killed, and they all wondered if they would be next. They were gathered behind locked doors.
Jesus certainly did not want them to be afraid of being killed, but his “peace be with you” was news that went way beyond that. Jesus emphasized his message by showing his hands and his side to the disciples. They all knew that he had been crucified, that his hands had been pierced with nails, that his side had been wounded with a spear. He was showing them that it was really him, risen from the dead.
And his “peace be with you” was his first sentence explaining what it meant that he rose from the dead. He was telling them that he had earned peace with God the Father for them. God would not punish them for being afraid. God would not punish them for any sin. Jesus had taken that punishment. They had peace.
In these unsettling times, we might worry whether God is punishing us for our lack of faith or our lack of action. But Jesus has risen from the dead, proving that God punished him and will not punish us. Instead, God reassures us. We have peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, thank you for calming me with your peace. Amen.