“…Peace be unto you…” John. 20:19
All of us have been affected in one way or another by death. In fact, death is just as important to life as living. And while no one wants to face it, we all will die one day. The how’s and why’s are not certain, but of this one thing we can be sure: we will all transition.
Such is the case with our lesson today. After a horrific week of trials, deception, injustice and public murder, the disciples of Jesus bar Joseph are now faced with a new normal. What would happen to them was not clear, and what their next move should be as a movement and as family of the deceased was bleak. In addition to just watching their hero be massacred in one of the most inhumane displays of dishonor, they all knew that they had scarlet letters on their backs. They were targets. They were a motley crew in a society that was flipped upside down by a man who was now eradicated-even if for a few hours. He was gone, and nothing was the same anymore.
The disciples knew for certain that they had to stay together. Two reasons prompted this. For one, it was safer for them to stay in one place in earshot of each other. They could sleep in shifts, looking out for looming danger, and preparing to fight to the death if it came to that point. At one time, they were superstars in their own right. Now, they were outlaws, fugitives of justice hiding out. They knew that there was strength in numbers. But they also knew that together it would be much harder for the Sanhedrin counsel to get further information or victory over their wounded crusade.
Secondly, they could lean on each other to grieve. And my oh my was there grieving to be done! In the dark shadows of exile, they could comfort each other with the memories of what they once were. They could share stories of how Jesus loved them individually and collectively. They could speak on the miracles they witnessed firsthand. Together, they could relish in the smiles of their deceased leader, think of favorite meals, and laugh at funny jokes that only they knew together.
In the process of terror and turmoil, while no one was expecting visitors of any kind, He showed up. HIM; it was the one they cried bitterly for, the one they would have gladly traded places within death. He was right there! In front of them! HOW! How could this be? So many questions arose in each of their minds. Just as they were about to question Him and their own sanity, He interrupted their thoughts with a sentence. He spoke one of the most articulately loving phrases ever. “Peace be unto you!” Peace…the kind of peace that would silence their fear and worry; the kind of fear that would engulf the entirety of whom they were. He declared that what would happen next would be PEACE.
Have you ever had death and grief digest your plans and dreams? Have you ever seen plans burn up in hypothetical flames of a person succumbing to the finality of life? Many times, we allow grief to grimace our living, to where we are just like the disciples. We become inmates to our worries and fears of the unknown of “next”; we lay our harps down and refuse to sing anymore. Some people are more than just family and friends. They represent possibility; so, when they die, the humanist in us begins to shawl every future hope with black garments of grief. We stop dancing. We stop singing. We stop believing. We hide. We don’t want guests, because guests mean we have to put on strong faces and act as if all is well.
God is about to walk among your situation. Yes, I know it feels bleak. Yes, you gave up. Yes, you feel like all is lost. But darkness is where He operates BEST! God challenged the darkness in the creation; He challenged the stink of a manger birth; He challenged the grave, and He now challenges your faith. Who told you to close the curtains and lock the doors of your dreams? Who allowed your only company to be brokenness? Beloved, even when people die, dreams and movements do not. There is an unexpected visitor walking into your home and heart. He is the Jesus that is all victorious. He is the one who defies logic and loneliness. And He stands among you, loudly declaring, “Peace be unto you…”