The accounts of the post-Resurrection appearances of our Lord have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to believers across the centuries. These moments Jesus shared with His disciples were purposeful, intentional encounters during which our Lord granted them His peace and gave them a life purpose.
Matthew's Gospel provides a snapshot in chapter 28 of one of these encounters. Our Lord's appearance to the women at the tomb was a source of both amazement and delight. They had already been startled by the angel who said to them, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples" (Matthew 28:5-7a). Moments later, as the women left the tomb, Jesus appeared to them and said, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell" (Matthew 28:10).
After this Jesus appeared to His disciples and said to them, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
All of us have experienced the peace that comes when we are in the presence of our Lord. With that peace there is courage and faith as we bask in the warmth of His grace. The apostles picked up on this and soon began to greet one another with this phrase, "Grace and peace."
I have come to believe that peace is what grace feels like when we put it on!
The peace that we enjoy in His presence is enough for the unsettling seasons of life. All of us have gone through or will go through times of challenge and situations that will strain our faith, but in the midst of it all, God will give us His peace: peace that "transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). This peace is capable of keeping us in the midst of life's most severe tests.
Isaiah 26:3 reminds us that God will "keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in [Him]." It is the way of God to do so. A resurrected Christ can keep those who trust in Him. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
Those post-Resurrection appearances gave the disciples not only peace, but also the confidence to embrace Christ's purpose for their lives. To the women at the tomb Jesus said, "Go and tell my brothers." To the disciples He said, "Go and make disciples" or, go and tell the world!
The mission to which we all belong was birthed that day as Jesus was caught up in the clouds and returned to the Father. The disciples went back to Jerusalem, where they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire for the mission our Lord had entrusted to them. From that moment on they began to "go" and "tell." It has been the way of God's people across the centuries.
And it is the way of God's people today. We still find His peace to be sufficient, and we are still employed in His mission. The mission to which the Church of the Nazarene adheres is "to make Christlike disciples in the nations." It is the same mission that laid hold of the early church.
In this Easter Season we rejoice that God has led us to put our arms around our world. The Resurrection assures us of His presence, where we find His peace and His power to accomplish His purpose!
Hear the Word of the Lord from Isaiah 43:1-3, 5 (NIV):
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and will take the name Israel.
J. K. Warrick is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, March/April 2012