Summary: A sermon about peace through God.
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
“My Lord and My God!”
We live in the Age of Anxiety.
Our world is anxious and afraid.
Many older people are afraid their health will go bad and their savings will run out.
A number of younger people are afraid they won’t have any savings for old age.
Some fear the future, others dread the past.
Many college students are afraid that they won’t have a job when they get out of college, and some parents may be afraid that these college kids will never be able to “get out” on their own.
Middle-agers often wonder if their lives have amounted to anything and young people sometimes wonder if there is anything to strive for.
And all of us live in an age of terrorism, random violence and tornadoes!!!
The disciples faced some pretty heavy fears and anxieties on that first Easter evening as well.
Their lives, it seemed, were in ruins.
For three years they had devoted their lives to Jesus.
They had left home, jobs and security to follow Him.
They had watched as Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead and proclaimed the love of God.
And now, He had been crucified!!!
The worst of their fears had come true!!!
They were all alone in this scary world.
What would they do?
How could they cope?
Was life worth the living?
They found themselves caught in a whirlpool of fear and anxiety!!!
Even Peter, the boldest of them all, even Peter’s brave vows of loyalty were followed with fear-filled words of denial.
The mocking, the beating, the horror of Jesus’ death had left Jesus’ disciples understandably shell-shocked!!!
When they had been following Him, they never were able to understand what He was talking about when He told them that the Son of Man must suffer and die and then be raised on the third day.
They thought Jesus would never go away, never leave them.
As our Gospel Lesson says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…”
“For fear of the Jews?”
The disciples were living in dread fear that the next knock on the door would be the signal that they would be the next ones to face a cross.
Everything was crashing in!
Then suddenly, on that first Easter evening everything changed!!!
Suddenly Jesus was among them.
No lock could keep Him out.
Jesus came right back into their lives.
He had not left them for good.
All was not lost after-all!!!
Far from it!!!
“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’”
And that is the kind of God we have.
Can you imagine if Jesus had coldly looked at this frightened bunch and started to sarcastically berate their recent words and actions?
“Let’s see, Peter. Let me hear again what you had said. ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’”
“Isn’t that what you said?”
“So what happened, big guy?”
“And how about you James and John? Can you drink the cup of suffering that I drink? Can you?
Where were you guys?”
In His hour of need, Jesus’ disciples had scattered, and Jesus could have given them an angry lecture.
He could have made them feel even worse about themselves.
But He didn’t.
That’s not what God is like.
Instead, He said, “Peace be with you!”
For that’s what they needed the most.
That’s what they lacked.
They needed to be made whole.
They needed to be set free from the guilt and anxiety that was locking them in.
They needed what only Jesus Christ can give: forgiveness, new hope, and a reason for living.
And isn’t that what we all need as well?
When have you found yourself shaking in fear, behind locked doors?
Perhaps this is your normal experience.
Maybe, on the outside you are able to give off an air of confidence and nonchalance, but inside you are bursting with anxiety.
I had a friend who once confided in me, “Ken, when I was a kid I used to suffer from nightmares and when I woke-up it was such a relief.
Now the nightmares begin when I wake up!”
I think many of us can probably relate to this.
At least, much of the world can relate to this.
Notice that after Jesus said, “Peace be with you!” He showed the disciples His hands and side.
Then we are told that the “disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
It’s kind of similar to Mary Magdalene thinking Jesus was the gardener until He spoke her name.