In John 20, Jesus appears to the disciples twice after the crucifixion. His first words on both occasions as they stare into the eyes of a once-dead master? "Peace be unto you."
The enormity of what had just happened must have rattled the disciples to their very bones. They had seen their master torn forcefully away by soldiers and rioting Jews; they had abandoned Jesus to be brutally scourged, mocked, and crucified in one of the most agonizing ways possible; they had spent three days mourning a world that no longer had Jesus in it.
And now he was here. In the room with them. And his first words were not, "Did you miss me?" or "Wow, guys, thanks for throwing me to the wolves back there," or "Surprise! I'm alive and because of what I've done, you can have freedom from sin and eternal life with me!"
No, not even that.
"Peace be unto you."
More and more, I'm recognizing the significance of peace. In the past, it has often been a tripping point for me—an ethereal concept too easily confused with a feeling, difficult to practice (unlike charity or patience) and nearer the bottom of my "Fruits of the Spirit to Work On List" as a result. But Jesus understood it as we do not, and he emphasized the importance of peace throughout his ministry.
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." ~John 14:7
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33
Jesus emphasized peace, which means it is incredibly important. But why?
Peace is what sets us apart from a world that is constantly racing in frantic circles, tying itself in knots with no relief from stress or fear.
Peace is what allows us to sit quietly in God's presence, not checking things off a to-do list or being "productive," but simply dwelling with Him and being strengthened in the stillness.
Peace is what anchors us when the world spins out of control—those quiet moments when we can say, "I still trust you, Jesus," and know we're not alone. Someone's got us. Even if we don't feel it, we know it. And that's enough.
Peace is where we hear the still, small voice giving us that nudge in the right direction, or away from the wrong one.
Peace is one of the greatest gifts Jesus offers us, second to salvation, because we don't need to wait until eternity to receive it. It's a gift meant to sustain us in the battles of right now. A weapon, a lifeline to Christ right now.
Peace comes from Christ. It's not something we can manufacture for ourselves, though we still must be proactive and cooperative with God's work in us. We must pray for peace, we must search for it, we must spend time facilitating it—quiet time with God, in the word, or in prayer. We must take that moment when the world is going crazy to whisper, "I trust you, Jesus," and be thankful for every blessing, no matter how small, remembering always the words of Christ. His promise.
Peace be unto you.