“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews…” (John 20.19a).

After the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were afraid and hid themselves. Their dream of participating in the Messianic kingdom had seemingly turned into a nightmare. Their hope became despair. Their triumph was dwarfed by what seemed to be an even greater tragedy. So they ran and hid. 

It was while they were hiding that Jesus first appeared to them as a group. It was on the first day of the week in a private setting behind closed doors. In the midst of their fear and despair Jesus came to them. The remainder of the verse above tells us that Jesus “…said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (v. 19b). Jesus then showed him his hands and side, and “he disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (v. 20b). 

In our darkest moments, when nothing else can console, Jesus offers us his peace.

He doesn’t take away the tragedy; instead, He offers us his peace. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14.27). 

Over the past month, the world has witnessed the war in Ukraine. We’ve watched in horror as schools, hospitals, and shelters have been bombed into nothing. We’ve seen loss of property, freedom, and life. We’ve heard the threats of further violence, and even the use of nuclear weapons. We’re collectively holding our breath while world leaders determine the best course of action. At some point, the madness will end. Then for a while things will get better, at least until the next war comes around. 

Does that sound bleak? Perhaps. But the truth of the matter is that so long as this world continues, the ruler of this world will continue to fight like a cornered animal. In Revelation 12, the dragon (Satan) is cast out of heaven and down to earth (v 7). He attempts to destroy Christ and his followers, only to be thwarted yet again (v 13-16). His only recourse is more rage (v 17), and he enlists the help of ghastly human agents who take no captives in an outrageous war that occupies most of the remainder of the book. Throughout John’s revelation (as with the rest of the Bible), sin, persecution and tragedy are realities on the stage of this human drama we call life. They are unavoidable, and all of us are touched by them. They originate with Satan, but he finds willing helpers among us. 

But greater still is the meek and mighty Lamb of God who wins the war and calls us home to victory, peace, and security. 

The peace that Jesus offered his disciples (John 14.27) is elsewhere described as a peace “which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4.7). We can have this peace right now, in the midst of our daily struggles; in the midst of unspeakable tragedy; in the midst of despair. And like all valuable things, it only gets more valuable, grows more deeply, and becomes more secure as we continue in him day-by-day. 

And finally, when the devil and the world have had their say, God will have his.

Come, Lord Jesus.