Summary: Learn why the peace of God can be so easily received.
Happy Easter everyone!
I came across an imagined conversation between two Roman soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb on that first Easter morning. Each had his cup of coffee in hand. Moments before the angel appeared, one soldier said to the other, “Cheer up, it’s Sunday morning. The way I see it, we’ve got one more day of guarding this tomb. By Monday this whole thing will be forgotten.”
Two thousand years later, over two billion people claim the life change made by a dead man who got out of his grave. Far from being forgotten. Around the world, yesterday and today, people celebrated the hope and peace through trusting in the resurrected Jesus Christ.
Last week, we looked at the hope of Easter. This morning, we will look at the peace of Easter. When Jesus was alive, he promised his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
There are at least three kinds of peace that we can experience: Peace of mind, peace with others, and peace with God. When it comes to peace of mind the world provides mental exercises, promise of security or sedative drugs. For peace with others, the world uses diplomacy, law, and force. And to achieve peace with God, the world puts the responsibility on mankind to restore the relationship. We call this responsibility, “religion.”
The peace that the world gives is different from the peace that Jesus gives. Jesus gives us peace of mind by teaching us to live by God’s truths. Jesus enables us to live at peace with others through unconditional love, forgiveness and reconciliation. And Jesus enables us to live at peace with God through his own death on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind.
The Bible tells us sin separates mankind from God, and God made a way for mankind to restore our relationship with Him through the death of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to believe this, but we’ll investigate this further. The peace that Jesus gave to mankind that first Easter is peace with God.
Our text is John 20:19-23.
If someone were to tell you that his death would pay the penalty for your sins against God, what might you think? That’s right; call the men in the white jackets. But if he follows through by dying for you and then shows up three days later in your face, what might you think? “Wow!”
“Peace be with you!” was a common greeting in Jesus’ day, but Jesus gave this greeting much greater meaning following his death and resurrection. This peace gave courage to men who feared for their lives. These men who ran and hid when Jesus was arrested, after receiving this peace, became fearless in the face of death. The good news is that everyone today can receive this peace. Let’s look at why.
First, the peace with God can be seen indirectly. Verses 19-20
We need to know the disciples two thousand years ago were just as skeptical as we. They needed tangible proof to believe that Jesus’ death was more than a cruel tragedy, that his death brought mankind peace with God. The difference between them and us is that they had an advantage. They saw Jesus crucified, buried and then alive three days later. They touched His nail scarred hands and His pierced side. You and I only have their records to this historical event.
Someone tells about two men in a bar watching the six o’clock news. The news reported a man about to jump off a ten-story building. One of the men in the bar said to the other, “I bet you $50 that he’ll jump.”
His friends said, “You’re on.”
Unfortunately, the man in the news report did jump to his death. The man in the bar who initiated the bet said to his friend, “You know, I can’t take your money. I saw the same news report at 5 o’clock, and I knew he was going to jump.”
To which his friend replied, “Go ahead, take the $50. I saw the same report at 5 o’clock, but I just didn’t think he would do it again.”
We don’t have the ability to see the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on video, and God does not have Jesus make personal appearances to every individual in every generation. But the offer of peace with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can be proved if there is proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes?
There are three common theories challenging the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first theory is that the disciples stole Jesus’ body from the tomb and made up the story about the resurrection. The problem with this theory is that Christianity rested on a high ethical system of beliefs. And even if the disciples did steal the body, would 11 of the 12 disciples die for their own lie? The only disciple, John, who died of old age, was exiled to the terrible island of Patmos. Any one of them could have exposed the lie and chose to live. But they didn’t, because it wasn’t a lie. They truly saw a dead man alive again.