Peace be with you – John 20:19-31

“Peace be with you”,  said Jesus. And again two verses later, “Peace be with you.” Like a great bell, a single note with multiple overtones, the promise of peace tolls out across the world. Not just an inner peace of heart for every individual who hears and believes. Not just an agenda for peace for a warring world. The old Hebrew word ‘Shalom’ speaks of a quality of life which includes but transcends both: rich and fruitful human living. God’s new creation bursting with many-coloured flower.

The peace declaration is flanked with simple but profound actions. Jesus shows the disciples his hands and his side, the marks of love which had loved them to the uttermost, the signs that the bill had been paid. Easter means, amidst much else, that peace, never other than costly, has truly been purchased on the cross.

As often in John, we move quickly from love’s evidence to love’s commission. New creation again: Jesus breathes on the disciples, as God breathed on the first human pair, to make them living beings of a new sort, peace-bringers, sin-forgivers. “As the Father sent me, so I send you”: the highest possible ecclesiology, grounded in the highest possible Christology, made effective by the gift of the Spirit. Peace is not so much a state of being, more a power let loose upon the world.

For Thomas, peace comes in person to confront the warring spirits of  doubt. Scepticism was not born in the eighteenth century; believing in the resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of the ancient world trying to convince the modern one, but of the creator’s power confronting the age-old assumption of all humankind – the potter, you might say, confronting the clay. But if Easter peace brings order to the world’s order, opening up undreamed of possibilities, not so much of random miracles but of new creation in place of decay, new peace in place of war.

(Adapted from Twelve Months of Sundays – Year B: Biblical meditations on the Christian Year, by tom Wright, pages 56-7).

Blessings, Reverend Lyndon.

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