“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.” (John 20:19-20)
Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in the place where they were staying would be the third appearance Jesus made on that first Easter Sunday. We have already seen that His first appearance was to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). His second was to the two men known as the Emmaus Disciples (Luke 24:13-35). When Jesus visited His disciples, it was evening of that very eventful day.
The text does not tell us where the ten disciples were staying. Perhaps it was the same upper room where Jesus conducted His Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). We can’t be sure. However, we do know that of the original twelve disciples, only ten were in attendance. This is because Thomas was not in attendance (John 20:24) and Judas Iscariot was dead (Matthew 27:3-10).
Wherever they were, the ten were fearful for their own lives. The doors of where they were being locked. John gives us the reason for such security: the disciples were afraid of being executed by the same Jewish leaders who were responsible for Jesus’ death.
Jesus, being aware of their fearful state, gently comes into the disciple’s presence. This occurred in spite of locked doors. We do not know how Jesus suddenly appeared, only that He stood in the midst of His followers. John Calvin writes, “Let us be satisfied with knowing that Christ intended, by a remarkable miracle, to confirm His disciples in their belief in the resurrection.”
Jesus then said, “Peace be with you.” The familiar phrase means “may you be well and prosperous.” Jesus wanted the disciples to no longer fear the Jews but rather to be at peace in Him.
Jesus then showed the men His hands and side. These wounds confirmed the belief in a bodily resurrection. This was He who bore their sins on the cross. This was He who was dead and buried. This was He who rose from the dead for their justification. The disciple’s grief turned into gladness. Their sorrow turned into joy. These are they who would become courageous preachers of the Gospel of Christ but only after the Day of Pentecost and the indwelling by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
We may tend to fear from time to time. When that happens, remember the words of Jesus: “Peace be with you.”
May God’s truth reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!