Mar 31, 2020 • Written by Katie Long
We’re in a period of waiting.
Schools are closed. Business is on hold. Everyday life as we knew it has ceased to exist in just a few short weeks. It all happened so fast.
I can imagine that Jesus’ disciples would be able to relate well with our current situation. They had been living life alongside Jesus for several years. Then, within the space of just a few chapters in the Gospels, they experience Jesus’ triumphal entry on Palm Sunday followed by a rapid and horrifying sequence of events.
Early in the week, they watch as Jesus evades traps set for Him by the priests (Matthew 21:23-24:41, Mark 11:27-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:36). I imagine the disciples’ train of thought was something like, “Okay, this isn’t great, but Jesus has dealt with similar situations before. He’s got this.”
Just two days later, on Thursday, Jesus gathers them together at the Last Supper. There, not only does He share with the disciples that He is going to die, but also that one of them will betray Him in the process. “Ummm, Jesus? I’m starting to get a really bad feeling about all of this…”
Later that evening, He asks them to stay awake with Him as He prays in the garden of Gethsemane. Being fallible humans, they fall asleep on the job. Soon after the soldiers come and arrest Jesus (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-23). “Jesus? Don’t you think it’s about time for another miracle?”
But wait...there’s more. Things seem to spiral completely out of control on Friday, a day filled with false trials, denial by His own disciple, condemnation, beatings, and mockery. Ultimately, Jesus is forced to carry His own cross to Golgotha, where He is crucified and killed (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 22:66-23:56, John 18:28-19:37). “What. Just. Happened?”
And then...they wait.
Not with peaceful hearts in the confidence of Jesus’ resurrection, but fearfully behind locked doors (John 20:19).
Wait...did you catch that? Fearfully behind locked doors. Like the disciples, we are also huddled away, some fearing the virus that lurks among us. Aren’t we asking some of these same questions right now? Our head knowledge is shouting to us that God is still in control. Nothing is bigger than Him. He knew this was coming and He has a plan.
Still, our hearts may quake fear.
In the second half of John 20:19, just when all hope seems lost, Jesus appears in the room, and utters the following, simple phrase:
“Peace be with you!”
Jesus appears and greets them with the casual Hebrew greeting that He would use any other day. It seems to me, though, that this is also a gentle command. It is not only a greeting, but also a reminder to the disciples to choose peace rather than fear.
We are in the waiting right now. Life may seem hard and lonely and frightening, at times. Honestly, there’s a measure of sadness and grief, too. There’s sadness as we approach a very different Holy Week and Easter. We’re grieving illness, loss of life, loss of jobs, loss of normalcy. Like the disciples, it seems a natural reaction to fill our hearts with fear rather than peace.
Jesus has more for us, though. His gentle command reminds us that peace is within our reach, no matter the circumstances. Just as Jesus was within reach of the disciples so that they could touch His wounds, His peace is within our grasp. Although we can’t reach out and physically touch Him, we can reach out in prayer and ask Him daily, and even hourly, to remind us of His presence and fill us with His peace.
This Holy Week and Easter, we have the opportunity to put our faith into practice by choosing peace over fear, by choosing to trust Him even when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, and to believe that each one of His promises are true. Through our choices, may others see His light shining through us as we journey together through this time of waiting.