"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.
Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.'"
John 20:19-21 (ESV)
Here in Hawaii, we still carry on many of our traditional fishing cultural practices. The Opelu, for example, is traditionally caught with a circular net that, when lowered into the deep ocean, opens into a cone shape. Canoes form a wide circle and lower this net into the deep, dark blue Pacific ocean, so deep you can no longer see the net from the surface. Then, Hawaiian fishermen will “chum” the water with bait to attract the schools of Opelu to the surface and over the net. The Hawaiians know that the Opelu fish frighten easily and, sensing any danger, will immediately dive to the bottom of the ocean to hide. The fishermen then raise their circular cone net and capture all those diving frightened Opelu. Traditional Hawaiian fishermen used their knowledge of the natural behavior of this fish to capture them and continue to do so today.
Two thousand years ago, the resurrected Jesus miraculously appeared to his disciples, and what were they doing? They were hiding in the dark of night, full of fear of the dangers lurking outside. They were fearful they would be found and captured, and then be crucified and killed, like their leader and teacher. Their nature, like our nature, is to run away from danger and to hide somewhere dark and safe. Are we not just like the Opelu? It was very fortunate for the disciples that Christ found them (though not so fortunate for the Opelu because the fishermen ate them.) But it was all part of the plan, all of which rested on the resurrection of our King, Jesus Christ. Christ is raised from the dead, as He promised.
Finally, it is interesting that the first thing Jesus says to the disciples was words of assurance, the words “peace be with you,” not “have no fear” or “you are safe now.” Why? Because the real fear of eternal death and the danger of eternal separation from God is now gone. In the words of our resurrected Lord, “Peace be with you!”
Our Father and our God, we come to you in faith with the grace given us and thank you for the gifts of peace, hope, and joy. I look forward to the day when the King will return to receive me into heaven and the new creation to live forever in peace. Amen.