Sermon for Sunday April 8th, 2018, the First Sunday after Easter

 

The Lessons: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; John 20:19-31

Text: John 20:19-22

Topic: The Lord Jesus Christ gives peace to his disciples

INTRODUCTION

On July 25, 2000, Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashed on takeoff in Paris. A hundred passengers were killed along with nine crew and four people on the ground as the Concorde banked, stalled, and then plunged to the ground, exploding on impact.

The cause of the crash was a sixteen-inch strip of metal on the runway. The metal burst the aircraft’s tire, and debris from the blowout ruptured a fuel tank in the aircraft’s wing. With the plane on fire, the pilot could not halt the takeoff, though he planned to make an emergency landing at a nearby airport. His last words as he fought to save his stricken craft were “too late.”

We only have one life to live. If we fail to make our peace with God before life ends, it will also be too late for us.

— Owen Bourgaize, Guernsey, United Kingdom [1]

JOHN 20:19-21: THE GIFT OF CHRIST’S PEACE TO HIS DISCIPLES

Peace had evaded the disciples after their Lord’s death on the cross, and here they were, gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, that they themselves might be arrested and imprisoned or handed over to the Romans for crucifixion. Early on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene had told them that Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to her, but they did not at first believe, and later the two disciples with whom Jesus had conversed on the way to Emmaus had told them of Jesus appearance to them, being known to them at the breaking of bread. They had become more certain after the Lord had appeared to St. Peter (Luke 24:34), but they were not altogether convinced of the Lord’s resurrection. Now in the evening of that first day of the week after Jesus’ death, He appeared to the disciples as they were gathered together, saying, “Peace be unto you” (John 20:19, 21, KJV). Between the first time Jesus said, “Peace be unto you” and the second, he shows them his hands, his feet and his side. The sight of the scars from these wounds made at his crucifixion and by the soldier’s lance after his death (John 19:34) convince the disciples that it is indeed the risen Lord Jesus Christ in front of them. The disciples’ joy at seeing the risen Lord Jesus comes with the peace that He alone can give. But the scars of these wounds themselves also teach the disciples that his death on the cross has availed to reconcile mankind to God, and that the source of their peace is the risen Lord, through the atoning power of his death on the cross.

It is significant that peace accompanies love and joy in the list of the harvest, or fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). After repeating his blessing of peace, the Lord Jesus declares that as his Father sent him on a mission to the world, so he is sending them, and for that purpose he breathes on them and gives them the Holy Spirit.

THE NECESSITY OF PEACE WITH GOD FOR EFFECTIVE MISSION

Why was it necessary for the disciples to have Christ’s peace within themselves before they began their mission of preaching the Gospel to the world? Without Christ’s peace, there can be no effective mission, for those who share the Gospel with others must themselves be living in a right relationship with God and at peace with all people, as far as possible (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14). How otherwise will they proclaim the Gospel of peace, if they themselves have no peace with God? The Apostles themselves must have received Christ’s peace fully, since after Pentecost thousands of people turned to the Lord through their preaching and found salvation. St. Seraphim of Sarov said this, “Acquire the spirit of peace, and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” ( http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/peace.html ).

Peace is Christ’s gift to his people, and part of the harvest of the Holy Spirit produced by the Spirit in the Christian as he follows Christ. Though a gift of God and the fruit of the Spirit, each Christian needs to banish from his mind and spirit the things that disturb and fight against his peace. The Lord Jesus himself said as much when he declared:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

(John 14:27, KJV)

The Lord Jesus gives His people peace, a peace that contrasts to worldly peace, but for this gift to stay and grow in us, we must not allow our hearts to be troubled or afraid. But not allowing our hearts to be troubled also flows from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:1), our faith that as we have committed our lives to him, he directs our course and takes care of us. Our peace in Christ also results from the words (both teachings and messages that He has given us – John 16:33).

CONCLUSION

There are many causes of fear, anxiety, turmoil and distress in life in this world. They are so much the more easily faced when we face them with the peace, the wisdom and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ at work in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit!

Let us also receive and be filled with the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit!



[1] p. 345, Craig Brian Larson & Phyllis Ten Elshof (General Editors): 1001 Illustrations that Connect. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Christianity Today International, 2008.

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