Peace be with you

This Sunday’s devotional comes from a Lectionary reading for the Third Sunday of Easter (2021), namely Luke 24:36-48 in my preferred translation (NIVUK):

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

This is one of the post-resurrection appearances of the Risen Jesus recorded in the New Testament. But, before you read on, you might like to read the preceding verses and last Sunday’s devotional Walk humbly with God.

The news of Jesus’ resurrection was becoming known; the disciples were gossiping the good news and enjoying wonderful moments of fellowship and food.

As Christians, the moments we share with each other in worship, fellowship and feasting are so important. The Last Supper in the upper room was a highly significant occasion, as well as being a tremendously poignant one. As we meet together, we’re sharing something divine. The Risen Christ comes and blesses us with his presence.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’

Jesus spoke about peace on many occasions. In the Beatitudes he challenged his hearers to be peacemakers, not just peace lovers.

On Palm Sunday he wept over Jerusalem he longed that they might have peace, but it was hidden from their eyes. They didn’t want to see it.

In a passage from John’s Gospel, where Jesus promises the Holy Spirit, he says to the disciples: 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

Later he says: ‘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

What incredible moments these must have been as they gathered in the presence of the Risen Lord. Such moments of collective insight and clarity, everything falling into place, especially as Jesus opened up the Hebrew scriptures to them.

The lights came on in their hearts and lives, and he outlined the message they were to declare to the world.

Thinking about the peace Jesus brings, I conclude with these later words of Paul: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:6-8

See also The Letter of Joy (Chapter 4) and Peace (Henry Vaughan)

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