"Peace Be Unto You"
[This chapter is based on Luke 24:33-48; John
On reaching Jerusalem the two disciples enter at the eastern gate,
which is open at night on festal occasions. The houses are dark and
silent, but the travelers make their way through the narrow streets by
the light of the rising moon. They go to the upper chamber where Jesus
spent the hours of the last evening before His death. Here they know
that their brethren are to be found. Late as it is, they know that the
disciples will not sleep till they learn for a certainty what has become
of the body of their Lord. They find the door of the chamber securely
barred. They knock for admission, but no answer comes. All is still.
Then they give their names. The door is carefully unbarred, they enter,
and Another, unseen, enters with them. Then the door is again fastened,
to keep out spies.
The travelers find all in surprised excitement. The voices of those
in the room break out into thanksgiving and praise, saying, "The
Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." Then the two
travelers, panting with the haste with which they have made their
journey, tell the wondrous story of how Jesus has appeared to them. They
have just ended, and some are saying that they cannot believe it, for it
is too good to be true, when behold, another Person stands before them.
Every eye is fastened upon the stranger. No one has knocked for
entrance. No footstep has been heard. The disciples are startled, and
wonder what it means. Then they hear a voice which is no other than the
voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from His lips,
"Peace be unto you."
"But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they
had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why
do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it
is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones,
as ye see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands
and His feet."
They beheld the hands and feet marred by the cruel nails. They
recognized His voice, like no other they had ever heard. "And while
they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye
here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an
honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them." "Then
were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." Faith and joy
took the place of unbelief, and with feelings which no words could
express they acknowledged their risen Saviour.
At the birth of Jesus the angel announced, Peace on earth, and good
will to men. And now at His first appearance to the disciples after His
resurrection, the Saviour addressed them with the blessed words,
"Peace be unto you." Jesus is ever ready to speak peace to
souls that are burdened with doubts and fears. He waits for us to open
the door of the heart to Him, and say, Abide with us. He says,
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice,
and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he
with Me." Rev. 3:20.
The resurrection of Jesus was a type of the final resurrection of all
who sleep in Him. The countenance of the risen Saviour, His manner, His
speech, were all familiar to His disciples. As Jesus arose from the
dead, so those who sleep in Him are to rise again. We shall know our
friends, even as the disciples knew Jesus. They may have been deformed,
diseased, or disfigured, in this mortal life, and they rise in perfect
health and symmetry; yet in the glorified body their identity will be
perfectly preserved. Then shall we know even as also we are known. 1 Cor.
13:12. In the face radiant with the light shining from the face of
Jesus, we shall recognize the lineaments of those we love.
When Jesus met with His disciples, He reminded them of the words He
had spoken to them before His death, that all things must be fulfilled
which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the
Psalms concerning Him. "Then opened He their understanding, that
they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is
written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the
dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be
preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye
are witnesses of these things."
The disciples began to realize the nature and extent of their work.
They were to proclaim to the world the wonderful truths which Christ had
entrusted to them. The events of His life, His death and resurrection,
the prophecies that pointed to these events, the sacredness of the law
of God, the mysteries of the plan of salvation, the power of Jesus for
the remission of sins,--to all these things they were witnesses, and
they were to make them known to the world. They were to proclaim the
gospel of peace and salvation through repentance and the power of the
"And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are
remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are
retained." The Holy Spirit was not yet fully manifested; for Christ
had not yet been glorified. The more abundant impartation of the Spirit
did not take place till after Christ's ascension. Not until this was
received could the disciples fulfill the commission to preach the gospel
to the world. But the Spirit was now given for a special purpose. Before
the disciples could fulfill their official duties in connection with the
church, Christ breathed His Spirit upon them. He was committing to them
a most sacred trust, and He desired to impress them with the fact that
without the Holy Spirit this work could not be accomplished.
The Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life in the soul. The
impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It
imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ. Only those who are
thus taught of God, those who possess the inward working of the Spirit,
and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested, are to stand as
representative men, to minister in behalf of the church.
"Whosesoever sins ye remit," said Christ, "they are
remitted; . . . and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."
Christ here gives no liberty for any man to pass judgment upon others.
In the Sermon on the Mount He forbade this. It is the prerogative of
God. But on the church in its organized capacity He places a
responsibility for the individual members. Toward those who fall into
sin, the church has a duty, to warn, to instruct, and if possible to
restore. "Reprove, rebuke, exhort," the Lord says, "with
all long-suffering and doctrine." 2 Tim. 4:2. Deal faithfully with
wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive
themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in
regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other
evil. "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of
God." Gal. 5:21. If they persist in sin, the judgment you have
declared from God's word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing
to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not
sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say
about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs,
and her action is ratified in heaven. He who despises the authority of
the church despises the authority of Christ Himself.
But there is a brighter side to the picture. "Whosesoever sins
ye remit, they are remitted." Let this thought be kept uppermost.
In labor for the erring, let every eye be directed to Christ. Let the
shepherds have a tender care for the flock of the Lord's pasture. Let
them speak to the erring of the forgiving mercy of the Saviour. Let them
encourage the sinner to repent, and believe in Him who can pardon. Let
them declare, on the authority of God's word, "If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. All who repent have the
assurance, "He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our
iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the
sea." Micah 7:19.
Let the repentance of the sinner be accepted by the church with
grateful hearts. Let the repenting one be led out from the darkness of
unbelief into the light of faith and righteousness. Let his trembling
hand be placed in the loving hand of Jesus. Such a remission is ratified
Only in this sense has the church power to absolve the sinner.
Remission of sins can be obtained only through the merits of Christ. To
no man, to no body of men, is given power to free the soul from guilt.
Christ charged His disciples to preach the remission of sins in His name
among all nations; but they themselves were not empowered to remove one
stain of sin. The name of Jesus is the only "name under heaven
given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
When Jesus first met the disciples in the upper chamber, Thomas was
not with them. He heard the reports of the others, and received abundant
proof that Jesus had risen; but gloom and unbelief filled his heart. As
he heard the disciples tell of the wonderful manifestations of the risen
Saviour, it only plunged him in deeper despair. If Jesus had really
risen from the dead, there could be no further hope of a literal earthly
kingdom. And it wounded his vanity to think that his Master should
reveal Himself to all the disciples except him. He was determined not to
believe, and for a whole week he brooded over his wretchedness, which
seemed all the darker in contrast with the hope and faith of his
During this time he repeatedly declared, "Except I shall see in
His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of
the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe."
He would not see through the eyes of his brethren, or exercise faith
which was dependent upon their testimony. He ardently loved his Lord,
but he had allowed jealousy and unbelief to take possession of his mind
A number of the disciples now made the familiar upper chamber their
temporary home, and at evening all except Thomas gathered here. One
evening Thomas determined to meet with the others. Notwithstanding his
unbelief, he had a faint hope that the good news was true. While the
disciples were taking their evening meal, they talked of the evidences
which Christ had given them in the prophecies. "Then came Jesus,
the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto
Turning to Thomas He said, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold
My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be
not faithless, but believing." These words showed that He was
acquainted with the thoughts and words of Thomas. The doubting disciple
knew that none of his companions had seen Jesus for a week. They could
not have told the Master of his unbelief. He recognized the One before
him as his Lord. He had no desire for further proof. His heart leaped
for joy, and he cast himself at the feet of Jesus crying, "My Lord
and my God."
Jesus accepted his acknowledgment, but gently reproved his unbelief:
"Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are
they that have not seen, and yet have believed." The faith of
Thomas would have been more pleasing to Christ if he had been willing to
believe upon the testimony of his brethren. Should the world now follow
the example of Thomas, no one would believe unto salvation; for all who
receive Christ must do so through the testimony of others.
Many who are given to doubt excuse themselves by saying that if they
had the evidence which Thomas had from his companions, they would
believe. They do not realize that they have not only that evidence, but
much more. Many who, like Thomas, wait for all cause of doubt to be
removed, will never realize their desire. They gradually become
confirmed in unbelief. Those who educate themselves to look on the dark
side, and murmur and complain, know not what they do. They are sowing
the seeds of doubt, and they will have a harvest of doubt to reap. At a
time when faith and confidence are most essential, many will thus find
themselves powerless to hope and believe.
In His treatment of Thomas, Jesus gave a lesson for His followers.
His example shows how we should treat those whose faith is weak, and who
make their doubts prominent. Jesus did not overwhelm Thomas with
reproach, nor did He enter into controversy with him. He revealed
Himself to the doubting one. Thomas had been most unreasonable in
dictating the conditions of his faith, but Jesus, by His generous love
and consideration, broke down all the barriers. Unbelief is seldom
overcome by controversy. It is rather put upon self-defense, and finds
new support and excuse. But let Jesus, in His love and mercy, be
revealed as the crucified Saviour, and from many once unwilling lips
will be heard the acknowledgment of Thomas, "My Lord and my
[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]