“Peace be with you!”
This is one of the most common greetings among Christians around the world. Many of us have had the privilege of being with the global Christian family, and we have been greeted by what is unequivocally the most well-known Christian greeting throughout generations.
“Pace,” they say in Italy.
“Mir Vam” is the greeting of the church in Russia.
“A Paz do Senhor” is how Christians in Brazil greet one another.
“Peace be with you” is the greeting of many churches in North America.
This is a beautiful way to greet each other because it identifies all of us as followers of the resurrected Christ. This is the first greeting the disciples received from Christ on the very first Easter Sunday, and the church has faithfully passed along this greeting from generation to generation as a witness and assurance that the Resurrected Christ is our source of true peace.
The Gospel of John tells us the story of the event that coined this familiar greeting (John 20:19-22). Jesus had just been resurrected. His disciples were together, doing what normal individuals do when facing fear and threats. They were isolated, gathered together in a support group, and under lock and key for fear of the Jews. The disciples had every reason to feel threatened and fearful. The same people who had killed their Lord and Master only days ago were now threatening to annihilate His followers.
However, the Lord interrupted the disciples’ false sense of security and replaced it with His permanent and reassuring sense of peace. The disciples thought that they were safe from the threat because they were in complete isolation, supporting each other by being together and under lock and key so no one could find them and hurt them. They felt safe and secure.
Yet, in the middle of what they felt was the most secure way to avoid any threat, the Lord suddenly appeared and shook them with a strangely soothing message: “Peace be with you!”
What kind of a greeting is this? To break into the place where they thought they were completely safe and somehow let them know that even the most secure human mechanism only gives a temporary, if not false, sense of security. What Jesus did was exactly what He had promised. He was going to replace any human device that would provide temporary assurance with a divine, permanent, and true peace—His everlasting peace.
This is the power of the resurrection. Jesus’ presence provided them with peace, joy, and the assurance of His Spirit.
What a great reminder this is for us in times like the present! Many of us are isolated, either by choice or by order of the local authorities. We have found ways to support each other so that we do not feel alone in this pandemic, and most of us have found mechanisms to “lock ourselves in” to stay safe and healthy. All of these things are absolutely necessary. All these things will help us keep the threat of the pandemic at bay.
However, there is something bigger than any human sense of safety and security, even amid a pandemic, and that is the Lord’s absolute peace. The Lord is willing and able to intersect our fragile human sense of security and replace it with “His peace that passes all understanding.” The power of His resurrection gives us joy for the journey. His Spirit gives us the power to look beyond any frightful situation.
As we journey together from Easter to Pentecost, we are still reminded of the power of the resurrection, and we are together in a period of expectation. Yes, we expect the end of this global pandemic with hope and assurance. Yet, we are expecting something even bigger and better. We are expecting His Holy Spirit to come and bless His Church.
Peace be with you!
Grace and peace to you all,
Board of General Superintendents
To view a video devotional of this message, click here.