[Jesus said] "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Growing up, the standard procedure around our house for repeat offenders went something like this. We would mess up and get a nudge of a reprimand. When we messed up a second time, we would get a stern warning. At the end of the warning, there was an even more ominous promise: "I've told you once, I've told you twice, you do not want me to have to tell you a third time!"
Three times in John chapter 20, Jesus stood among His closest followers and offered them the following blessing: "Peace be with you" (verses 19, 21, & 26). The Lord also shows them the scars on His hands and His side (verses 20 & 27). They are behind locked doors because they are afraid (verses 19 & 26). Clearly they needed peace!
The common greeting in Jesus' day was a blessing-prayer asking Yahweh to bring goodness in every aspect of life to the people being greeted. We know it today as the term, "Shalom." Jesus gives His confused and broken disciples this greeting: "Peace be with you!" Yet the Lord is definitely doing more than giving His broken and disheartened followers a "shout out" or common greeting. He is giving them a gentle reprimand while trying to calm their troubled hearts: "I've told you once, I've told you twice, and now I'm going to tell you a third time. I have come to bring you peace!"
The peace Jesus offers is more than an absence of problems, or freedom from persecution, or a world that is calm and without problems. The peace that Jesus promises is not the world's style of peace. It is a peace that only Jesus can give — a peace that comes from the gift of the Holy Spirit, given by the Lord who conquered death.
The scars on the hands and side of Jesus are the key to understanding this peace. By showing His scars, Jesus is giving His disciples ...
- Proof that He really triumphed over the grave and was alive, resurrected, and victorious.
- Perspective on what real ministry involves — the ministry that the Lord is calling them to offer the broken world.
- Purpose for their lives — something worth living and dying to achieve.
Peace is far more than the absence of problems: it is the victory found in Jesus through our problems, in our difficulties, and over our fears. This is life lived to the full (John 10:10)!
So listen, dear friend, to the words of Jesus and be comforted, motivated, and encouraged: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
The following questions are for your personal reflection, for sharing in a small group of friends, or for use in a home gathering. I'd also love to hear from you on my blog and see what you think about this message and these questions: http://www.thephilfiles.com
Why do you believe John emphasized Jesus' repeated greeting, "Peace be with you!" three times?
How can we have peace even though we have trouble, fear, and problems?
Have you ever experienced this peace in trouble? Will you share this experience with others?
How does Jesus give us peace from and through these difficulties? (Go back and look at the verses before John 14:27 and John 16:33 and relate your answer to the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to His disciples.)
How does Jesus give us this peace?
What is the basis of Jesus' promise to give us peace?
What does this peace entail — what exactly are the blessings of this kind of peace?
Our Summer Series on the Post Resurrection Sayings of Jesus