Summary: A sermon about how the Presence of Christ brings Peace.
Peace with Presence
“Unless I see," said Thomas, "the nail marks in his hands,[and] put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won't believe.”
These are strong words and yet how often we thought the same thing?
We love the miracles but we hold back wanting more solid proof.
We love the promises of Christ that today you will be with Me in Paradise, but we have that skeptical side too when it comes to us, me or mine.
We assure our friends of God’s forgiveness, love and eternal life but we fall short ourselves in believing when it is about us.
We too are that doubting Thomas.
John was anxious to tell this story in John 20 where the disciples were locked up, hidden away in that room where they prayed that the Jews wouldn’t find them and crucify them too!
All the amazing days of Jesus’ popularity and promise were now just dust and ashes to them or so they thought.
Would this be the end?
Now would they scatter to the four winds, go back to fishing and rack-up this whole business with Jesus as just a memory?
I think John wants those of us who will read this to know that the first disciples had a tough time themselves.
The present moment and its threats and dangers seemed too real, too threatening, too frightening to their fragile spirits.
But in the midst of all of this Jesus Himself came among them saying, “Peace be with you.”
PEACE BE WITH YOU!
Are these not the words we all need to hear?
Isn't this what is missing from our chaotic, hostile, fearful and angry world?
Don't we all need PEACE?
Peace of mind.
Peace that penetrates our souls.
Peace that things really are going to be alright...
...peace that God really is in control.
...peace that we are not all alone in this often difficult and cruel world.
We need the peace of Christ before we can even begin to help ourselves, let alone others.
And it's real.
And it's available.
And Jesus is offering it to us over and over and over all the time.
Jesus speaks beautiful words of assurance that He is Who He said He was and that we can really count on His every word of grace, every word of promise, every word from God---Peace Be With You!
We all need to hear these words in our world today!
They need to be words that cut through our own feeble faith, our own weak commitments.
We need to hear these words from Jesus about "how I am among you and I bring you PEACE, a Godly peace that gives rest to your souls no matter where you are or who you are."
The disciples badly needed this encouragement for they were falling apart.
We may think the disciples had it easy and their faith just caught fire immediately after Easter but we almost had a still born church.
Let's remember this if we ever start getting too big for our britches.
Let's remember this if we ever think the accomplishments of the Church are because of how great we are.
Let's remember this if we ever start to think that this congregation, this movement, this fellowship is all about us!
Jesus had already appeared to the disciples once, well to all of them except Thomas.
And here they were eight days later.
And they were still a quivering mess of anxiety and fear.
The doors were still locked.
They had seen Jesus.
Jesus had even breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
Surely they believed, but their faith was so weak, so new, so fragile.
They were still so very much connected to this world.
They hadn't yet learned to trust much.
They were just infants in the faith.
Things were just barely beginning to turn around for them.
The dust of the Crucifixion had not yet settled.
It was still too new and fresh.
Even though there was an empty tomb, and a Risen Christ they were still paralyzed by shock and fear!!!
So, Jesus comes to them again.
If He had not, how long would they have stayed locked in that room?
And without the Presence of Christ, aren't we all, in some ways, locked in our own rooms...
...afraid to come out and live--really live?
Afraid to love...
...afraid to give too much of ourselves away?
...afraid of what others might think?
...afraid we might lose control?
...afraid we might get hurt?
...afraid to give our money, our time, our lives for God and for the world?
Remember, it is always Jesus Who first comes to us, not the other way around.
We love only because Jesus first loved us.