Live with peace in Jesus

April 8, 2018

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:19-31

It was supposed to be just another peaceful day at the office. For some work was enjoyable, for others it was boring, but it paid the bills. If anyone expected the peaceful nature of their office to be disturbed, they expected it to happen when someone didn’t refill the coffee pot or took out their frustrations on the jammed copier with a few well-placed kicks and punches. For the people at the YouTube headquarters in California, Tuesday failed to be just another peaceful day at the office. On Tuesday, a woman opened fire at YouTube headquarters injuring three people. The people in the building like so many others involved in shootings were quickly robbed of peace. Unfortunately, this pattern of peaceful places turning into what feels like war zones has become all too common.

And this pattern of fear of losing our lives isn’t just a recent trend but has been going on throughout history. Just over one week ago, we heard again the events leading up to Jesus’ death. Jesus and his disciples had enjoyed a peaceful Passover meal together, then went out to a quiet hilltop to pray. The disciples expected the night to be as peaceful as any other night they had gone out to pray, but that night the peace was shattered by the sounds of a mob sent to arrest Jesus. After they arrested him, they put him on trial, falsely accused him, sentenced him to death and by the end of the next day Jesus was buried.

The disciples were living in fear that the pattern of peace would be broken for them too with their own deaths. They were Jesus’ closest followers stuck in a city full of people who had turned on him. They wondered how soon until they were found out and sentenced to the same horrible fate as Jesus. In our gospel lesson from John 20, we read that the night of the first Easter, the disciples were gathered together hoping the Jewish leaders wouldn’t find them, when

Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

The disciples who saw Jesus finally felt their blood pressure drop as his presence brought them peace, but does his appearance mean peace for you too? Today we will look at the disciple who did not see Jesus and find out if we who haven’t seen him can also Live with Peace in Jesus.

Thomas was the one disciple who did not see Jesus that first Easter evening. He like all the others was living in fear for his life, but he didn’t get to see Jesus risen from the dead right away. Instead,

the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

and there were other accounts from Jesus’ closest followers that they had seen him alive, but when Thomas heard them,

he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas rejected the peace that Jesus wanted him to have because he hadn’t seen him, which is understandable. It is difficult for anyone to believe in something they have not seen, especially when it goes against what they believe is possible. It happened in the case of the Jewish leaders who killed Jesus, they could not conceive of a Savior who was establishing a heavenly kingdom for all believers. Instead, they wanted Jesus to rule on earth and make Israel great again. Jesus confronted them on their lack of faith and misunderstanding of Scripture, which is why they rallied together to have him put to death.

Again, in our first lesson from Acts 26, the apostle Paul was on trial before King Agrippa who ruled over Judea and Samaria because of the continued lack of faith and misunderstanding of Scripture among the Jews. The Jews had accused Paul of causing riots with the spread of an illegal religion of the risen Jesus in their corner of the Roman Empire, which got Paul arrested. While on trial, Paul testified saying,

25 “I am not insane…What I am saying is true and reasonable. 

Paul was saying that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were clearly prophesied from Scripture and did happen in Jerusalem that first Easter. And Paul continued to say to King Agrippa,

26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

Paul appealed to the fact that King Agrippa knew all of the events surrounding Jesus and what the Scriptures had to say about the Savior, but it was not enough for him to believe.

Thomas knew the Scriptures, Jesus’ perfect, powerful life and testimonies of his friends but they were not enough to make him believe. Instead, he had to see Jesus. So finally,

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Jesus appeared to Thomas so that he would stop doubting and believe in the resurrection. And when Thomas saw Jesus,

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

It isn’t difficult for you and me to put ourselves in Thomas’ sandals. We were not there to see Jesus risen from the dead, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

We run into the same problem as Thomas when we make demands from God without understanding what we really need from him. Jesus came into the world to save sinners from the punishment of death by sacrificing his perfect life in our place to give us freedom from sin and the sure hope of eternal life in heaven. Jesus did this for all people whether they believe in him or not. He did this to restore peace between God and man.

Thomas’ lack of faith tricked him into believing that he had peace with a dead Jesus, but there is no peace with a dead savior. There is no peace when you accept that someone you love is dead. Death is horrible. Jesus’ death was horrible for the disciples because the one who they followed and dedicated their lives to was gone. Plus, they were now afraid that they were the next target of the mob who killed Jesus.

We fall into the same trap as Thomas when we believe we have peace in our lives only if we see Jesus do something for us. If you’ve been struggling because you kids don’t want to go to church anymore or don’t want a relationship with their Savior anymore, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t hear your prayers for them if something doesn’t happen in their lives to bring them back to church. If you are worried about the government turning against you as a Christian or this country falling apart, it doesn’t mean God is not at work to keep you safe if he allows laws that go against his will to be passed or even allowing war to break out. If you are worried that your life might be in danger at work or school or in any public place from an unforeseen shooting or attack, remember God said in Matthew 10:28

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

What truly robs us of peace in this world is not what we can see, but what we cannot see. They are the things in our heart. True peace for all situations in our lives comes from knowing who Jesus is and what he has done for us. And we do not need to see what Jesus has done in order to have faith in him. Instead, Jesus gave us his word. Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 1:21,

For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus accomplished everything he shared with prophets over hundreds of years, long before he walked the earth in the flesh. Everything that Jesus did to keep his promise and save us has been recorded in the Scriptures. In fact, God was so gracious to us to include many of the miracles Jesus did, even though we really only needed to know that he lived, died and rose from the dead. And John reminds us that

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

People and situations will constantly try to rob us of peace in this world, but John reminds us from our second lesson in 1 John 5:5, 

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Whatever troubles your heart, it cannot rob you of the peace you have with Jesus. In him, you have peace with God, which means you recognize that this world will let you down and more often than not turn against you in small ways and in very big ways. The world will let you down, but we are no longer citizens of this world. We are citizens of heaven.

As citizens of heaven we live with peace looking forward to a better home in heaven. We also know how to share the peace of heaven with others. We share the peace we have in our lives because of Jesus when we share and live out these words with others,

21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” …If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

The shooter who came to YouTube was so focused on vengeance, that she didn’t even consider that she had made it to the doorstep of the people she was angry with. When she walked in the building she could see people. She had the chance to make peace by hearing what they had to say, but instead she shot and injured three people, then shot herself.

The immediate danger and stress felt by Thomas and the YouTube shooter may not ever affect you, but the need for peace does. We all need peace in our lives and the peace that lasts, the peace that is real comes from God. And so that you would know what that peace is John wrote,

31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Take these words to heart and Live with Peace in Jesus. Amen.

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