The Resurrected Savior Gives Us Peace
John 20:19 says, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews."
The disciples met together behind locked doors. It was risky because they feared they would be discovered and killed, as was their Rabbi.
Scholars have speculated as to why they took such a risk, but I believe it was to discuss the women's report that the tomb was empty, that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Luke 24:11 records the apostles' understandable reaction to the news. "… these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them."
At the time, a woman's testimony had only half the legal weight of a man's. While two male eyewitnesses were considered credible, it would take the testimony of four women to be considered equally credible—and that's how many women testified of the resurrected Messiah.
The disciples were together, but they were not joyful. They were not filled with excitement and anticipation. They didn't believe that Jesus had risen from the dead—until He stood among them.
And even then, Luke's account tells us of their initial reaction. Luke 24:37 says, "But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit."
If we were in a locked room in the middle of the night and someone who had died suddenly appeared before us, how would we react? I'm sure we would be startled and frightened, just as they were.
In fact, they didn't even think it was Jesus at first. They thought it was a ghost—until Jesus addressed their fears: "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Luke 24:38-39).
And in John 20:19, we read, "Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"
They could leave doubt, fear, and sorrow behind. Jesus was—and is—alive!
He "showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." And in verse 21, He repeats the phrase "peace be with you."
Thomas, who was not with them, said, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe" (John 20:25).
Did Jesus chastise Thomas for not believing his fellow disciples? No! He permitted him to reach out and touch the wounds. What grace!
These men had abandoned their Master in His darkest hour. They'd doubted the testimony of four trustworthy women. They'd hidden behind locked doors. And still, Jesus didn't shame them. He blessed them by offering them peace and assurance, motivated by His love, mercy, and grace.
Jesus not only greeted them with kindness and love that they didn't deserve, but He forgave them for their doubt, fear, worry, and anxiety. He forgave them for abandoning Him. And He will forgive our sin if we confess it to Him and accept the gift of salvation He offers.
We must remember that our sin, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is part of the reason He had to die on the cross. There are no trivial sins from God's perspective.
And when we are reconciled to God through saving faith, He gives us the ministry of reconciliation. We, like the disciples, are to share the gospel with those He brings into our life. And God equips us to do so.
His Peace Prepares and Sends
Throughout the gospel of John, we see that Jesus was sent to do the Father's will (John 4:34; 6:38-39); to speak the Father's words (John 3:34; 12:49); and to perform the Father's works (John 4:34; 5:36). He was sent to bring salvation to the world (John 3:17).
This is summed up in how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:10: "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Jesus sends His disciples, including you and me, to do the Father's will, to speak His words, and to go out and proclaim the gospel.
Too often, as Christians, we focus on our family, our job, our church. Instead of going out into the world and making disciples, we wait for the world to come to us. But that's not what He calls us to.
Remember, Jesus was known as a friend of sinners. He went to them. He didn't wait for them to come to Him. We shouldn't be afraid to associate with unbelievers.
We're called to proclaim the gospel to the world. But do we spend time with unbelievers with the intention of sharing the gospel? When was the last time we invited our unsaved neighbor over to watch a football game or a baseball game? To share a meal? To have a meaningful conversation?
While we have the responsibility to develop these relationships and share the gospel, we must remember Zechariah 4:6, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts."
This is great news! The Holy Spirit lives in every genuine believer. And it is His work to bring others to saving faith. We don't have to be convincing enough, eloquent enough, or knowledgeable enough. But we do have to do what He has called us to. Thankfully, the results are in His hands.
The more we get to know the Lord by studying the Scriptures and spending time with Him in prayer, the more our love for Him will grow—and the more our desire to make Him known will grow. We'll want our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, even our acquaintances to know Him as we do. We'll want them to experience the peace we've come to experience.
We Proclaim His Peace
The Lord offers us peace, but it isn't the peace and security that many believe come with financial and material prosperity. He calls us to take up our cross, to willingly suffer the hardship and persecution that comes with proclaiming peace through repentance.
The calling to make Jesus known isn't only for pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. It's for anyone who has come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer gives us the desire and the ability to do so.
Although we may stumble over our words and may miss numerous opportunities to share our faith, with His help, we can increasingly do better.
Will everyone we talk to believe? No.
John 3:19 say, "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world …."
But we can't forget John 1:19, which tells us, "… men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil."
If God hadn't drawn us, we would have been perfectly content to stay in the darkness. The same is true of those we talk to. Should that stop us from sharing the gospel? Absolutely not!
We proclaim a gospel of forgiveness. Because sin is real, judgement for that sin is real. Hell is real—whether one believes it or not. Just as ignoring a cancer diagnosis won't make the disease go away, ignoring our need for the Savior doesn't mean there isn't a horrible price to be paid if we don't accept the gift of salvation.
While God calls us to share our faith, those who hear won't come to saving faith because of our undeniable logic or brilliant reasoning. They won't come to faith because we answer all their questions and alleviate all their doubts.
God is the only One who can pour out the gift of faith. He's the only One who can transform a person and give them new life in Jesus. He's the only One who can give them real peace.
There is no greater purpose, no greater calling, than to proclaim the gospel. Some of us may go to the foreign mission field. Others may go to seminary and become pastors. But no matter what the future brings, all believers are called to make Jesus known right where we are, at any point in time.
We must go in the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting that He will do the convicting and converting, trusting Him to open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears. Jesus has equipped us for the greatest calling, the greatest mission, the greatest purpose we could ever imagine. And it's the calling to share the good news that Jesus saves.