Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
The greeting- Peace be with you that Jesus uses when speaking to his disciples following his death and resurrection is still the typical greeting in Israel today. Like the Jews of Jesus’ day, modern Israelis often greet each other with the words Shalom aleikhme! -Peace be with you!
The common western definition of peace is –the absence of conflict or war, but in the scriptures it means so much more. When Jesus speaks of peace he is speaking of an inner serenity and harmony, a deep sense of wholeness and well-being. The peace that Jesus offers to the disciples after the resurrection echoes the peace he had spoken about so often.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:35)
For Jesus living from the heart is ultimately what brings peace forward in people’s lives and in the world.
Jesus’ words of peace are in deep contrast to the world he grew up in. Remember Jesus was born into a country that was occupied by a foreign power. They had no voice in political decisions, were heavily taxed and poorly treated. Discourse and division surely prevailed. So what was it that Jesus knew and believed that allowed him to speak peace to such non-peaceful times? What he knew and experienced deeply within his own heart was the peace of God and he intentionally created a wide open space within himself for that peace to breathe in him - regardless of his difficult outward circumstances. Jesus absolutely believed it was the peace of God alive in people’s hearts that could transform them and bring about God’s Kingdom of peace. In the biblical understanding of shalom, there is a point at which you have so much shalom within that it spills out from you, and is given to others. Jesus believed that to be true. Do you?
True peacemaking can only become a reality in our world today if it is first a matter in our hearts. How are you fostering peace within your own heart?
What are the circumstances of your daily living that make fostering a deeper inner peace challenging?