John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 20:19-21, Shalom

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”

//These words are spoken by the resurrected Jesus to his disciples. Luke agrees in his account: See Luke 24:36. The Matthew version is a bit different, perhaps because in Matthew, Jesus’ message differs: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

The message of peace is so important to John, however, that in the Fourth Gospel Jesus twice blesses the disciples with this promise. Why the double emphasis on the gift of peace?

Because peace implies the age of the Messiah. The Christ has arrived! His age-old greeting, “peace” or “shalom,” was a wish of well-being, but between believers it came to mean the deeper, worldwide peace that God would grant in the age to come. In Ezekiel’s famous dry-bones vision, God says to the army he revives, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.

John’s Gospel repeatedly preaches realized eschatology: The age has arrived. John does not look forward to an Armageddon to come. He repeatedly emphasizes Jesus as victor already over the world and the Devil. For this Gospel, at least, the age of peace has begun.

Would John be disappointed in the next 2,000 years?

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