Reflect: Why were the disciples so frightened that they were hiding in a room with the doors locked and in self-preservation mode? First, the chief priests and elders had paid off the Roman guards that were by the tomb to lie, asserting that the disciples stole Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:11-15). If this were believed, the disciples would potentially be put to death. The city was in turmoil with all that had transpired over the three days from Jesus’ crucifixion until His resurrection: There were the angry mobs and mockers; the sky turning dark in the middle of the day during Jesus crucifixion (Luke 23:44-45); the veil of the temple torn in half at Jesus’ death (Luke 23:44-45); there was a violent earthquake shaking the entire area (Matthew 28:2). In addition, Jesus had appeared to a few people. I think anyone would be a bit frightened and unsure about what was coming next.
Now, we see in this passage, Jesus miraculously appears in the room where the disciples are hiding out. Notice the empathy Jesus has towards His fearful disciples. The first words out of his mouth are, “Peace be with you.” The Greek word for “peace” used here and predominantly in the New Testament is “irēnē” in Hebrew it is “shalōm.” As with shalōm, irēnē could be used as a greeting or farewell. Shalōm is one of the key words and images for salvation in the Bible. In the New Testament, shalōm is revealed as the reconciliation of all things to God through Jesus. “He (God) made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)” The shalōm experience is multidimensional, a complete well-being—physical, psychological, social, and spiritual; it flows from all of one’s relationships being put right—with God, with(in) oneself, and with others. It is a state of peace that is a blessing or favor from God. Jesus is bringing them this shalōm from their fears. Next, He shows His best friends, His tribe (disciples), the wounds on His hands and side. Can you picture Jesus’ tribe excitedly shifting from fear to peace and excitement as they see with their eyes and talk about the miracle of what God has done?
Again, Jesus says to his disciples, “peace.” This time it came with a commission for His disciples to be sent out for a specific purpose and mission. In Matthew 28:19-20, we see the commission specified, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is referred to as the, “The Great Commission” which is a calling on all Christ-followers’ lives.
Lastly, Jesus breathes on them to receive the Holy Spirit. This is the only time in the New Testament where this Greek word, “ĕmphusaō” for breathe is used. It is the same word that is used when God is breathing life into Adam, formed from the dust (Genesis. 2:7).