"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:21)
For approximately three years the disciples had followed Jesus in His travels, had listened to His teaching, and participated in His ministry. They had forsaken "all, and followed him" (Luke 5:11). They had seen Him ridiculed, opposed, oppressed, suffer deprivation, and be rejected by the religious leaders of the day, as well as by most of the common folk. They had watched while Judas, a trusted friend, had betrayed Him and then had fled when the Jewish leaders and a Roman guard arrested Him. This beloved leader, for whom they had had such great hopes and in whom they had placed such great trust, had then been scourged, beaten, spit upon, lied about, and nailed to a cruel cross to die in agony and abject loneliness, even abandoned by His loving heavenly Father.
A few days later, the disciples had "assembled for fear of the Jews" (John 20:19), for perhaps the Jewish leaders were trying to stamp out all semblance of His following, and they feared for their own lives now that Jesus was dead. But suddenly, Jesus stood in their midst and showed unto them His hands and His side (v. 20) as proof of His death. Yet He was alive. "Then were the disciples glad."
We are now prepared to fully appreciate the words of our text. It is as if Jesus said, as my Father has sent me, so I send you, and look what they’ve done to me. But even though suffering and hardship will follow, have no fear. My peace and my Holy Spirit will be with you to assure your ultimate victory (compare verses 21-22).
If we would be His disciples, sent out as He was sent out to accomplish His eternal work here on Earth in His physical absence, we must likewise expect persecution, peace, power, and victory. JDM