14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.
19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
Can you picture the scene? The disciples in a house – some say it was back in the Upper Room – with doors and windows locked and someone on the look out for government officials or other followers of Jesus carrying news. They would probably have been speaking in hushed tones about what was next.
We read earlier in John’s gospel that John and Peter went into the tomb and saw it was empty. Mary Magdalene had come to tell the disciples that she had in fact seen Jesus alive. Were the disciples making plans to try to go and find Jesus or were they just huddled together waiting to see what would happen? Were they planning to return to their homes? Galilee was 40 miles away and if they went back, would they even have jobs and homes to return to? They left everything to follow Jesus, and even though he had told them that he would rise from the dead, did they have any idea what would come next? So many questions and probably lots of anxiety.
Then, in the evening, Jesus suddenly appears among them. There would be so much excitement, but lots of fear about what would/could happen next. Jesus knows that they are anxious and so he offers peace. Isn’t that a little like saying, “Don’t freak out – I’m with you”? He shows them his hands and side to prove beyond a doubt he is Jesus before he again says: “Peace be with you – don’t freak out, but I am sending you out to act in my stead, and you will be able to forgive sins!” He tells them the Holy Spirit will be with them, but that is a whole lot of information to process in such a short period. Their heads must have been spinning, but Jesus was there, and they used that peace and comfort from him to carry out his ministry.
There are times in our lives when our heads are spinning from a disaster, a death, job loss, end of a relationship, or countless other worries. We can easily go into freak out mode, but Jesus says to us “Peace be with you. I have given you the Holy Spirit, and I am with you.” Jesus knew what it was like to be overwhelmed and anxious. We see this in the garden when he asked God to save him if possible. He knows that we need that sense of calm that the Holy Spirit can bring to us. He offers his peace to get us through our most difficult and confusing times.
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
When we have anxiety and are freaking out about life, can we say a prayer – “Give me peace, Lord Jesus?” Or even just a breath prayer of “Peace” so that we can feel the Spirit with us?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for coming into the space where we are, showing yourself to us, and giving us peace. Amen.