Today's Lectionary Text
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
A few years ago, my spouse, when asked what he wanted for Christmas, responded “peace and tranquility.” I was not able to gift him with the peace and tranquility he requested, although I did find a tea blend called “Peach and Tranquility” that he continues to brew and drink.
What do we mean by peace? For some, my spouse’s request of peace and tranquility would appear to be a single (duplicated for emphasis?) request. For others, the request would appear to be for two, related but different, things. Peace can be broadly interpreted as a general lack of war or more narrowly to simply mean freedom from disturbance. Synonyms include quiet, tranquility, goodwill, nonaggression, nonviolence, stillness, silence and more. The word can be used as a friendly greeting (Peace be with you) or an order to be silent (Peace, be still!).
While we read in Luke that Jesus first appeared to believers as they walked to Emmaus, this is the only time in Luke that Jesus appears post-resurrection to his original disciples. In this moment, Jesus greets the gathered disciples with “Peace be with you!” which apparently, and understandably, greatly startled the disciples.
In what appears to be one of Jesus’ less perceptive moments, he asks the disciples why they are startled. Perhaps I could start by pointing out that being startled is a natural response to an unexpected event. After all, while Jesus promised to be with the disciples, he didn’t spell out any details on how that would happen. Appearing to them while they were apparently still talking about the empty tomb news brought by the women would seem to very unexpected and surprising!
In my mind, Jesus’ word of peace in this situation is a blend of command (Don’t be afraid), reassurance (I’m keeping my word) and greeting (I’m here with you). In this word of peace, I hope you will find a reminder of God’s ongoing presence, love and reassurance since while the world and our lives may rarely seem “peaceful,” Christ still comes and offers us a word of peace. It is precisely in Christ’s word of peace that I find a place of personal wholeness. Thanks be to God for this resurrection encounter.
--Rev. Karen Jeffcoat
Registrar, Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry
Prayer for Reflection
Peace be with and in you. Peace be with and in me. Peace be with and in us. In Christ. With Christ. Through Christ. Amen.
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