Because We Were Raised From the Dead with Jesus, We Dwell in Peace
Alleluia! He is Risen! And Therefore
We Have Risen and Live Joyfully in His Peace!
In Jesus Name
May the God’s desire to make us His own, proven to us through the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, be revealed more and more and therefore may we live in His peace!
The 371 picture….
One day driving up the mountain to Anza, I took what has become the best photo I have ever taken. It is there on your prayer insert/sermon notes. There has been nothing done to the picture, there was a fierce and I mean fierce mountain storm that was coming over Thomas Mountain and Mount San Jacinto.
Yet this tree stood as a beacon, the sun breaking through the clouds so gloriously lighting up the tree as if the tree itself was glowing. It stood, unaffected by the storm, unaffected by the clouds.
Completely at peace….
I have so longed to be like that tree – able to withstand the threat of any storm in life. To be able to dwell in God’s glory, to be able to reflect it like that tree, even in the face of such overwhelming storms. Yet that is not to be….
As I looked at the picture yesterday, it reminded me of the upper room, the storms that threatened the disciples, that raised their anxiety levels to their maximum. Enough that doors were shut, people weren’t allowed in, as they mourned, as they grieved, as they struggled.
In the midst of their storm… Jesus was revealed in their presence. Jesus the crucified one, Jesus the Passover sacrifice, Jesus who had been born of Mary, who had taught, who had healed.
Jesus, who was no longer dead, whose glorious resurrection was revealed by His presence! The relationship they had was not over, it had become even more glorious, as they realized, Praise God, He is Risen! (He is risen Indeed, Alleluia1)
And therefore…. (we have risen Indeed! )
Like the tree in the picture calls our attention, so too He calls our attention, our presence for in His presence we know His peace.
How often must we hear these words?
Jesus appears in the presence, like the tree appears along the side of the road, and the words resound, “Peace be with you!” Even as their hearts were so flooded with joy that the anxiety was drowned, the words would resound again – “Peace be with you!”
We need to understand that blessing, and its equivalents, “fear not”, and “the Lord is with you!” We need to hear them, to understand them. We need to taste them, digest them, to bring them into the very core of who we are.
The problem is that these words can become the church equivalent of “How are you doing?” with the quick response of “And also with you” or “with your spirit”. We too often reduce a powerful blessing to a greeting and polite response.
Why is that a problem?
We need peace. Satan would rob us of it constantly. He does it through encouraging our sin, and the shame and guilt it will cause. He does it through the sins others commit against us, as we allow the resentment to build, as we try to justify our sinful responses. Satan would use grief and despair as well, even as he did with Thomas.
It can be so easy to take Thomas’ position, to cry out Lord, unless I see you, unless I know you are there, I won’t give up my doubt, or my anxiety, or my pain. I won’t let you deal with it.
And then, when someone tells us, as we shall moments from now, “God’s peace is with you,” we quickly answer back – even mumble back a suitable response.
My friends, we can’t do that anymore. We need to hear those words, we need to know as we approach this altar that God will take those anxieties, those pains, the guilt, shame and resentment away from us.
An example of Christ’s ministry
That is exactly how Jesus dealt with Thomas….
“Peace be with you!” He exclaims to the room again, not just for Thomas, but for all of the brothers.
Thomas, you needed these hands? I am here, in the flesh. My side? I will offer it to you, the side from which my blood poured. Now, can you live in peace?
I think we read this passage sometimes, without seeing Jesus’ love for Thomas, We want to hear Jesus’s words without compassion, simply going, okay Thomas, here you go. Now get back to work.
But Jesus knows him, knows his brokenness, knows how much Thomas wants to believe. He made Thomas, he walked with him for years.
This is the same God who inspired Solomon at the dedication of the temple, to pray,
32 And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation—people are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonderworking power—and who come to pray to this Temple. 33 Listen from your home in heaven and honor the prayers of the foreigner, So that people all over the world will know who you are and what you’re like, And live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do, So they’ll know that you personally make this Temple that I’ve built what it is. 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 (MSG)
That’s the God who answered Thomas, the Lord who would listen to prayers of people who aren’t even His… as far as they know. Who would gather them, and encourage them to pray to Him.
Thomas, being ministered to by a Jesus who was real, found the peace he needed to believe. To declare that Jesus was his master, the One who was in charge of His life! And His benevolent, merciful loving God….
In other words, He knew peace.
What can you do, knowing that peace?
But Jesus didn’t leave the apostles just in that place of peace. He wanted them to take that peace out of the upper room, even as he wants us to take it outside the walls of this church, and off this property. Even as the Father in heaven sent Jesus to bring us that peace, we now have to take that peace to the world.
Impossible? Not if we realize that God is with us. That the Holy Spirit, breathed out on the 10 in the upper room was given to us at our baptism.
How? In the mercy displayed as we forgive sins, even as we know our sin are forgiven. That peace is found there. Nothing new about this – for while God answered prayers of those foreigners, Solomon also noted the prayers of the people of God.
18 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. 19 Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O GOD, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. 20 Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. 21 And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive. 2 Chronicles 6:18-21 (MSG)
That is what Jesus authorized the apostles to preach – the forgiveness of sins, the freedom given in our baptism. Whatever you forgive here… is forgiven….
These are the words heard in a few moments, the blood of the New Testament, shed for the forgiveness of sin. And as you take and eat, and take and drink, what is the blessing the end of communion? Until we are before His throne in glory, know you dwell in His peace…..
Be at peace, all sin, every sin committed against you is forgiven. Go and share that peace, the peace we know because sin was dealt with at the cross, and while it cannot rise, we know this.
Alleluia! He is Risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
(We are risen indeed! Alleluia!)
Posted on April 27, 2014, in Sermons and tagged apostolate, Cross, Easter, forgiveness, Jesus, Life in Christ, mercy, mission, Missional, peace, Resurrection, serene, Serenity, sin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.