Summary: A sermon about the peace only Jesus can give.
On the very first Easter morning only Mary Magdalene had seen the Risen Christ.
When she had gotten to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away, she went and told Peter and John about it.
Peter and John came running and believed that "someone" had indeed stolen Jesus' body.
Then, they went back to where they were hiding.
But, Mary had stayed at the tomb--weeping.
And it was there at the tomb that Jesus came to her, called her by name, and she saw Jesus and believed.
Jesus instructed Mary to go tell the disciples what she had seen and heard.
And Mary did what Jesus had asked, she "went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'" and she told them what He had said to her.
But, apparently the disciples didn't believe Mary.
Thomas always gets a bad rap for not believing the other disciples when they told him, "We have seen the Lord," but the other disciples hadn't believed Mary Magdalene when she had told them: "I have seen the Lord."
We are all in the same boat on this one, are we not?
Unless we experience something for ourselves--we really don't tend to believe it.
So, the first Easter moved along, and when evening came, the disciples were still hiding behind locked doors.
We are told that they were filled with fear.
They had seen what had happened to Jesus.
They had witnessed the horror of Jesus' crucifixion, and they were scared out of their minds that the same people would do the same thing to them.
They didn't believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
They believed that Jesus' body was missing, but they still believed in a dead Jesus, not a Resurrected Jesus.
And so they were absolutely terrified.
And who could blame them?
And then John tells us that "Jesus came and stood among them.
He said, 'Peace be with you.'
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side."
And then, something very interesting happens.
After Jesus shows the disciples the nail marks on His hands and His side where the Romans pieced Him with a spear, we are told that the disciples finally: "saw the Lord," and then "they were filled with joy."
And then Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you."
Could it be that in showing His wounds to the disciples, Jesus is not only showing them that He is the same person they saw hanging on a Cross a few days ago, but also that His wounds prove to them that Jesus has overcome the very worst that the world can do to Him?
If Jesus can be raised from the dead after having experienced a Roman execution--what else is there to fear?
Jesus has overcome the worst that the world and the devil can do to Him.
Therefore, "Death has been swallowed up in victory.
'Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
And so Christ can say to the huddled and scared disciples: "Peace be with you."
Death is one of the things that people fear the most.
In Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book Mowgli, the man cub, asks the animals what the most feared thing in the jungle is.
He’s told that when two animals meet on a narrow path that one of the animals must step aside and let the other animal pass.
The animal that steps aside for no one would then be the most feared.
Mowgli wants to know what kind of animal that is.
One tells him it’s an elephant.
Another tells him it’s a lion.
Finally the wise old owl exclaims: “The most feared thing in the jungle is death. It steps aside for no one.”
Well, my friends, welcome to the jungle!!!
The disciples lived in a violent society.
And we live in a violent society--a violent world as well.
There seems to be a war on every corner.
We have terrorists blowing up and killing civilians in such seemingly safe places such as train stations, mosques, hotels, and busy city streets.
Crazed people with guns walk into schools and places of business and shoot anyone who happens to be in the line of fire.
The anxiety level, the fear level is pretty high right now.
Jesus said to the first disciples: "Peace be with you."
Jesus says to us: "Peace be with you."
Who wouldn't want peace?
Isn't this what most sane individuals most desire?
We all need peace, do we not?
How can we find it?
How can we have it?