John xx. 1-22
"Peace be unto you."
An Address by MR. BERGIN, on 11th August 1912.
Peculiar interest attaches to the following, being notes of the address given by our departed brother in the last meeting he attended. It is pleasant to know that the peace of which he spoke filled his soul during his trying illness.
WHAT a word is this in the Scripture just read, "Peace be unto you"! It seemed to come with a very particular fitness to the circumstances in which the disciples were found at that time. We must try to picture those circumstances. All their hopes had been completely dashed to the ground. They had hoped that the Lord would deliver them; and He had been delivered over unto death; they hoped He would deliver them from the Roman yoke; instead of that, the Roman Governor had delivered Him to be crucified, and they had all forsaken Him and fled. This perhaps must have been the bitterest ingredient in their cup at this time—they had forsaken Him in His hour of sorrow. It is a terrible picture. And then the triumph of the Jews in getting Him crucified, led them to shut their doors because of their fears.
Now that is one side of that deeply interesting scene, and the other side is that the newly risen Lord, in all the dignity of resurrection life, came and stood in the midst of them in their fright, and the first words He spoke was, "Peace be unto you." He who once in their presence had rebuked the storm and said, "Peace, be still," now calms their tumult of heart with this one blessed word, "Peace be unto you." Just look at the contrast between these trembling, perplexed, terrified disciples on the one hand, and the risen Lord on the other, "the conquering Hero," who had conquered death. And this is the same One concerning whom the Apostle writes in Eph. ii. that He came preaching peace, "having made peace through the blood of His Cross" for poor guilty, rebellious sinners. He comes thus to each one of us when He first arrests us as guilty sinners, and speaks peace to us—and oh, the gladness it gives our hearts! What joy! How we love to sing of His wondrous love, His wondrous grace! And then in periods like this present time, when storms are raging, when trials are upon us, what a thing to have this risen Lord just drawing near and saying, "Peace be unto you"!
"Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." Well might they be! What a proof of His power, of His right to say, "Peace be unto you" O beloved, let us grasp this—"Then were the disciples glad." He so filled their vision that their fears were gone. The blessed One, whom they had grieved in spirit by forsaking Him, is now risen; He is no longer the Victim of Jewish hate and Roman scorn, but the Victor. And then the Lord repeats this word. This is wonderfully gracious of Him; it is matchless that the Son of God, who made peace by the blood of His Cross, should comfort their troubled hearts by saying again, "Peace be unto you."
And then what a re-assuring word, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." This was His message as the risen One, and it was the word calculated to breathe strength and encouragement into their hearts. Unbelief supposed that all was gone when He was crucified, and His disciples did not understand that His death was to establish the basis of their peace; we can understand it now. Now, seeing He was sent by the Father, they take hope, for if the Father's sending led to this, so to them would come the thought, "Will His sending us lead to like results?" What a word of cheer and what a tonic to these discouraged ones! "As," "so," and all down along the ages, He is still the risen One at the right hand of God, who is able to save unto the uttermost.
And He, who through all the difficulties, sorrows, trials and perplexities, is able to save unto the uttermost, comes to us this morning and says, "Peace be unto you." Let us have indeed a hearing ear, and an understanding heart, and listen to that blessed voice from our risen Lord, whose death we are about to celebrate.