Hello, my SUMite friends. Ian, from Down Under here. I trust everyone is holding up okay under the continued stress of the global pandemic. It has sure been an unsettling time for all of us and finding ‘peace’ can be especially difficult.
One of the blessings of the Beatitudes refers to being peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). However, to be a peacemaker we first need to be able to receive peace. I know I often struggle to engage the peace that is already present inside us through Christ. If I’m grappling with some internal struggle or feelings of anger, fear, bitterness or lust I may hide these away instead of drawing closer to Jesus and engaging the peace that resides in me.
Jesus Walking in the Room
I love the scene in John 20, the day after Jesus’ resurrection, when the disciples are locked in the Upper Room terrified the Jewish leaders are going to break down the door and haul them away.
Let’s read it together:
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23 NIV)
Jesus appears. Yes, he simply appears. He doesn’t need to open the door in his resurrected body because he has taken on his divinity that he let go of 33 years earlier.
And what are his first words: “Peace be with you.”
Put yourself in the scene. Yes, if you can listen to this scene and picture yourself as one of the terrified disciples it makes the experience even better. And God appears. Offering His peace.
Receive it. Breathe in His peace. And breathe out the stress, the worry, the whatever.
When Jesus says it for a second time, receive it. And picture yourself receiving his breath upon you as he breathes the Holy Spirit over you. Breathe it in, breathe out the worry.
What doors have you closed in your heart and mind? Let Jesus appear in them. And picture him saying those wonderful words, “Peace be with you.” Not just once, but twice.
Breathe in the peace, breathe out the shame, the anger, the fear, the worry that has been locked up in that room.
Psalm 23 is my favourite Psalm. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. And what I love most about it is the peace I receive as I meditate upon it. We have a shepherd who says ‘we want for nothing’. This is what living in his Kingdom is all about: living in continual peace, irrespective of our circumstances.
And the Kingdom is here now. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV)
May I encourage us to meditate on Psalm 23. Once again, you may enjoy listening to it. Picture yourself with Jesus, our shepherd. And after each verse, perhaps say, “I can relax”.
May I close with this blessing over us all. One we’re familiar with I’d suggest. Receive it as you read it:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)
Peace be with us all. In Jesus’ wonderful Name. Amen.