Being Changed on the Inside

Easter 2 Monday

John 20:19

“But on the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered and the doors locked out of fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: “Peace be with you.””

The fruit of faith is peace – not only the peace one enjoys outwardly, but also the one Paul mentions to the Philippians when he says, in Philippians 4:7, that it is a peace beyond all reason, mind, and understanding. And it should not and cannot be judged according to reason where that peace is. We want to see this in the gospel. First, the disciples sit there locked up in great fear of the Jews. They may not leave and have death before their eyes. On the outside, they have peace and no one hurts them, but on the inside, their heart is nervous and has neither peace nor rest. The Lord enters in their fear and anxiety, calms the heart, and makes them glad so that they fear is taken away – not by removing the danger, but so that the heart is not afraid of the danger. For Christ does not remove or change the anger of the Jews. For they rave and rage as ever. On the outside, everything remains as it was. But the disciples are changed on the inside. They are given such courage and gladness that they say: “We have seen the Lord.” This is how he stilled their heart so that they become confident and bold. This is why they no longer worry about the raging of the Jews. This is the true peace that puts the heart at peace and calms it – not at a time when there is no misfortune, but in the midst of misfortune when we have nothing but conflict before our eyes. And that is the difference between worldly and spiritual peace. Worldly peace exists when the outward evil is taken away that causes conflict. E.g., when the enemies besiege a city, there is conflict. But once the enemies are gone, there is peace again. The same applies to poverty and sickness: While they oppress you, you are not at peace; but when they are gone and you are rid of the misfortune, you once more enjoy peace and quietness from the outside. But those who undergo these outward changes are not changed on the inside. They remain desperate, no matter whether outward misfortune is present or not – the only difference is that they feel their desperation and are frightened by it when misfortune is present. But the Christian or spiritual peace changes things around: Misfortune remains on the outside – e.g., enemies, sickness, poverty, sin, devil, and death remain present, do not cease, and continue their siege – but on the inside is peace, strength and comfort in the heart, so that the heart does not worry about any misfortune, so that it even becomes bolder and gladder when misfortune is present than when it is absent. This is why the Christian peace is the kind of peace that surpasses reason and all senses. For reason cannot understand any peace except the worldly or outward peace. For it cannot understand or resign itself to a peace that exists while the evil is there, being ignorant as to how to comfort and set the person at peace in misfortune. This is why reason thinks that evil and peace cannot coexist. But when the Spirit comes, he leaves the outward adversity in place, but strengthens the person and changes timidity into a fearless heart, changes nervousness into boldness, turns a restless consciences into one that is peaceful and quiet. Such a person is bold, courageous, and glad where the rest of the world is frightened.

 

St. Louis ed., 11:726-728.

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