Happy Easter Monday, everyone! Alleluia he is risen indeed!
The first recorded words of Jesus after his resurrection are “peace be with you” (Jn 20:19). Doesn't that seem like an odd thing to say?
After all, the next thing he says is “as the father sent me so I send you” (Jn 20:21). How was Jesus sent? To live, preach, and die for God the father. This is a group of people who are about to embark on an adventure of traveling, preaching, and living a radically different lifestyle. This is a group of people who will (nearly) all die bloody deaths for Jesus' name. This is a group of people who will rarely experience “peace” as we define it today. So why does Jesus say “peace be with you”?
I suppose one obvious reason is that they had seen him crucified and now he appeared in a locked room which, if I was there, would freak me right out! In hat sense “peace be with you” probably meant something like “chill out, I'm not a ghost”. But, as always, Jesus tends to say things with deeper meanings.
Jesus doesn't wish “world peace” on the disciples like a Miss America contestant trying to say what the judges want to hear. He clearly said that he had no intention of bringing world peace (Lk 12:51-53), in fact “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! (Lk 12:49). The peace Jesus offers his disciples doesn't end wars, it doesn't guarantee prosperity financially, it doesn't guarantee enough food to eat, and it certainly doesn't guarantee a quiet, pain-free death. It gives personal peace in the midst of these trials.
Life for everyone is full of suffering and hardship. There is no doubt that Christian and non-Christian alike will com across things that are unpleasant in life. The Peace of Christ doesn't remove these things, in fact it could be argued that Christians suffer much more than others. However, the Peace of Christ is hope; the antidote to the poison of despair. The Peace of Christ tells us that even though the world may hate us it's no biggie because Jesus has overcome the world. The Peace of Christ allows us to face anything in this world with inner peace because we know that after these trials we will rejoice in our our resurrection on the last day.
So, I repeat Christ's words. Peace be with you; now get out there and set the world ablaze!