“Peace be with you!”
John 20: 19, 21, 26
In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, all of the mythic land of Narnia is thrilled when the mighty lion Aslan reappears after a long absence. Their joy turns to sorrow, however, when Aslan concedes to a demand made by the evil White Witch to be slain.
Faced with Aslan’s apparent defeat when he gives up his life, the Narnians experience his power when, after a certain period of time, he returns and emits an earsplitting roar that causes the witch to flee in terror. Although all seems to have been lost, Aslan ultimately proves to be greater than the villainous witch.
Like Aslan’s followers in Lewis’ allegory, the Prophet Elisha’s servant despaired when he got up one morning to see himself and Elisha surrounded by an enemy army.
2 Kings 6:13-17 describes the scene:
So the king of Syria said, “Go, see where this man Elisha is, and I will send and capture him.” They sent word to the king, saying, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” So the king sent horses and chariots and a great army that arrived at night to surround the city.
When Elisha’s servant arose early and went out, the army was there, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “O master, what shall we do?” So Elisha answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are greater in number than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, open the eyes of the servant and let him see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he was now able to see, and he beheld the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha”
Although things at first seemed bleak to the servant’s eye, God’s power ultimately proved greater than the enemy horde.
Our difficult circumstances may lead us to believe all is lost, but God desires to open our eyes and reveal that He is greater.
After Christ’s apparent defeat on the Cross the Disciples, too, are hiding in the upper room in fear, not knowing that Christ’s power is with them. When He appears, He strengthens them, and their eyes are opened to understand they are not alone, but He is with them. He grants them His peace, three times, “the peace which surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and gives them the Holy Spirit.
And peace – eirini – comes from the Greek verb, eiro, which means to bind together.
Christ’s peace means that, in the Church, we are never alone: we have Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit, and we have each other. There is nothing to fear when Christ’s peace binds us to Him and to one another.