After the tumultuous events of Holy Week, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent trial and execution, where were the disciples? Not out on the streets preaching and teaching, not mounting a campaign to prove the innocence of the dead Jesus, but all huddled together in a rented room with the doors locked.
They were afraid. Perhaps they feared that the guards would come and look for them as they had done for their master. The gospel simply says the doors were locked “for fear of the Jews”. What Jesus says to them, when
like a ghost he appears in the locked room, is “Shalom”. They would have known this to be the usual greeting which people exchanged on meeting. Yet Jesus says to them a second time “Shalom”.
Shalom doesn’t simply mean “peace”. It means that deep-down feeling of health, prosperity, security and freedom. It is a positive thing rather than just the absence of disquiet. Shalom is that unshakeable sensation that we
are held in the palm of God’s hand and nothing can ever separate us from him.
When we feel afraid or disquieted it’s a comfort to know that even the disciples found it hard to be calm all the time. When we begin to doubt the substance of our faith, when we become discouraged and think we’re getting nowhere, Jesus has one simple word for us: “Shalom”. Faith in the risen Lord does not mean that everything becomes rosy, that we wander through life with no problems or concerns. You could argue that the more a person believes, the deeper the questions and doubts that arise. But what it does mean is that we are able to view the same realities from a different perspective, through a different lens.
The fact that Jesus is risen from the dead means that we no longer face things alone. We no longer are held in the grip of anxiety and fear.
Jesus rose not to abandon us but to be by our side. He is as present to us today as he was in that room with the disciples. And, whatever our fears are, his presence offers us Shalom.