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” (John 20:19, esv).
What does fear look like?
It looks like nail-biting. It looks like fidgeting, nervous eating, and an inability to concentrate. It looks like irritability, paranoia, possessiveness—clinging to things and people who play the role of our security blankets. Fear is not hard to spot.
Jesus is our peace. He gives us Himself.
But do you know what peace looks like? You can see it just as easily. When peace is in the heart, gladness is on the face.
The Bible paints this contrast in John 20—the contrast between the troubling nature of hearts filled with fear and the peace that Jesus offers as an antidote to it. Verse 19 opens on the evening of the first Easter. Jesus hadn’t been out of the tomb more than fifteen hours. But His disciples had shut themselves firmly away “for fear of the Jews”—specifically the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) who had led the charge to put Jesus to death. The disciples were worried that those who’d killed the One they were following might be wanting to kill them, too.
So it was tense. They were terrified. Shaking in their sandals. Trembling in their togas. Anyone who saw them would have seen the fear in the room.
But then Jesus appeared. He didn’t knock; He was just there. “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” To the fearful heart, peace was always Jesus’ answer, same as today. But apparently they didn’t buy it at first, so He graciously “showed them his hands and his side” (John 20:20a), as if to say, Here, see for yourself. Then they knew He was Jesus.
That’s when everything changed. “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20b). Their whole countenance changed from fear to peace.
As a pastor, I’ve prayed with countless people going through all kinds of fearful situations—needing a job, needing healing, needing help, sometimes filled with heartache about their family and children. Recently I prayed with a mother and her son who was heading off to serve in the military. You could see the fear in their eyes. So we did what the Bible clearly says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). I put my arms around them both and pulled them close, praying, “Thank You, God, that You are going to protect him. Thank You that You are going to use him and grow his faith.”
The look on their faces when we ended that prayer . . .
The fear was gone, replaced with peace—just like Scripture says, how “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Peace wasn’t something Jesus gave that mom and her son. Jesus was their peace. He is our peace. He gives us Himself. And when we receive Him, it shows.
If you’re carrying fear in your heart and on your face today, know that Jesus is here with you—“with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And because He is here, you can have peace. Both inside and out.
Father, You have intentionally created us so that our outward lives reflect what’s happening within. I ask You to help me not neglect my heart. I ask You to fill me “with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13) so that my outward testimony genuinely speaks of the change You’ve made inside me. Thank You for Your Son Jesus, who is my peace, who invites me to call upon Him again and again, to receive His peace, in His name, amen.