Of Betrayal and Peace
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
– John 20:19-21
All of the disciples had betrayed the Son of God.
In his moment of most dire need - they all abandoned him, some even repeatedly denied ever even knowing him. On that fateful night, each disciple had sought his own comfort, protection and pleasure over their loyalty, allegiance, and commitment to Christ. The guilt must have been deafening. Imagine these disciples watching the one they betrayed, bleed to death - nailed to a board of wood next to common criminals. To those who fled and denied Christ that night in gethsemane, it must have felt that they themselves had hammered in those deadly nails. As if having their messiah and teacher die before their eyes wasn't bad enough - all of his students and followers were now paralyzed with guilt, shame, and embarrassment, for having abandoned their master.
And yet - when the risen messiah meets his disciples for the first time - there is not even a hint of judgement, shame, or rebuke. Instead, Christ greets them with words of peace:
“Peace be with you.”
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
There is no sense of: “Well I guess I need to find a more stalwart crew if I'm gonna build my church.” Instead he reaffirms his choice of choosing them in the first place - despite their glaring failure.
We are his disciples. We all find ourselves forgetting, denying, abandoning, forsaking, and betraying the risen Christ. We all find ourselves paralyzed by shame, regret, fear and confusion because of our shaky allegiance. Could it be that Christ's word to us - could be the same word he gave his disciples on that day?
No more inner turmoil. No more unrest of the soul. No more thoughts of defeat and uselessness. No more paralyzing, suicidal, shame. Jesus wants to bring peace to our brokenness. He doesn't even want to bring it up - he wants to move on. He wants to send us out to do his work, again… and again… and again.
I praise you, Jesus - for your everlasting patience with me and my constant rebellion… my divided heart. I praise you for desiring peace with us above all. I praise you for not holding our failures against us - but for constantly meeting us where we're at, calling us to repent, and to move forward with your mission. Forgive me for the countless backsliding, denials, detours and confusion along the way - I truly need your peace today. Cover up my betrayal in your everlasting peace - and equip me, again, for your mission on this earth.