John 20:19 – When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
Kenneth Branagh was once quoted as saying “the Chinese say, ‘It’s good to live in interesting times”, which is actually a misquote of a saying falsely attributed to the Chinese. However, the sentiment of the saying, wherever it originated, is that the times we live in are not good at all (they are ‘interesting’!), but that these times often bring innovation, change, new ways forward. It is true of many of the hardest times in human history that facing adversity head-on, being honest about our situation, leads to new ways of life that are better than before.
This is certainly true of nation of Israel in their periods of exile for example. They may not have wanted to be where they were, and being there was their fault, but they were in exile. No amount of moaning would change that… and eventually the situation was resolved when God deemed the timing right. Daniel was even instructed to make the best of it, integrate into the local society and make it prosper because if it prospered so would he (Jeremiah 29:7).
And is this true of the disciples in the situation they find themselves in when Jesus appears to them in verse John 20:19. They are afraid, they do live in ‘interesting times’. They feared that every knock at the door could be the Jews or the Romans coming for them. They were hold up in a single room. Life was not comfortable, anxiety was high, they were in lockdown and has lost many of their basic freedoms because the world outside had become a hostile place with hidden threats around every corner.
Now, you can see where I am going with this, their situation and ours are similar in some ways although the reasons are different. As the length of lockdown continues to grow, as the realities of rising death tolls, school closures, working from home, potential job losses all become more embedded in our collective consciousness (amongst many other thoughts), it is very easy and understandable to let fear creep in. But I know Jesus wants to change the narrative in our thoughts.
Notice the first thing he says when meeting the disciples in the room… It wasn’t a list of things to do, although they do come later, it wasn’t a rebuke ab being afraid because He knew how they were feeling. It was simply a statement that recognised that His presence could bring something to them, that Jesus being in the room with them could bring ‘peace’. It was when he appeared that their outlook changed, their situation improved, their focus was shifted to a new way of life… but it started with that simple phrase ‘Peace be with you’.
So today, tomorrow and for as long as this situation continues, whenever you feel anxious about these ‘interesting times’ remember to bring all that worry to Jesus and hear Him say ‘Peace be with you’. These times may bring new ways of life for us all, they may bring better outcomes in the long run, we may see new innovations as a result of hardships now… but they all start with allowing Jesus to bring us peace in the present. So do not be afraid, for Jesus is with you today.