Summary: The words "Peace be with you" explored and applied to everday life. This Easter Sunday message will not only challenge the seeker, but encourage the believer. Written invitation offered at the close.
"The difference Resurrection Peace makes" Easter Sunday 2002
(Recommended Drama: "These Parts" by Judson Poling 1991 Willowcreek.com)
Today I want to talk to you about this! Something of what you just saw acted out. No surprise, today we’re dealing with the topic of the Resurrection. The greatest event of all time.
When I was a college sophmore at Mt. Vernon Nazarene College I wrote my first theological term paper on this subject. And since I had never written one before, I was a little bit nervous about doing a good job. So I worked extremely hard to theologically cross all my ‘T’s" and dot all my "I’s" I wanted the paper to be good. So I spent a lot of time researching, reading and writing. And of course back in the 80’s we typed all our term papers, this was before the advent of the P.C. So I spent literally hours typing out my term paper on the Resurrection. When it was complete, and ready to hand it, I sort of thought I would make the rounds among some of my peers and show them what a good job I did. So I took all ten typed written, foot noted pages bound them in a folder and began handing it around. I gave it to my friend Steve to read through. After reading the first few pages, I could just see the puzzled look on His face, and my heart just sunk, I said, "Steve, you look a lit puzzled, is there something wrong with paper?" He looked back at me, closed the binder and said, it looks like a great paper Bob, too bad you spelled the word Resurrection every time you used it! (Laughs) I grabbed the paper back out of His hands and leafed through it only to find he was right. I even looked the word up in the dictionary to be sure. My bubble burst and so did my ego. I spelled the word resurrection wrong no less that 50 times. I spelled it with one r in the middle, instead of two! Needless to say, there’s no spell check on a typewriter, and it was too late to do over, so I handed it in anyway. Thinking my professor would look over the mistake and not grade me down for it. No such luck! When I got the graded paper back, the mispelled word was circled in red all fifty times! So early in my theological career I learned the hard way, resurrection is spelled with two "R’s" in the middle. I don’t know how severely I was graded down for it, I was too embarrassed to ask!
On a different note, today I want to talk to you about the resurrection peace that’s available to us in Jesus Christ. In order to do so, I’m going to have you turn to John 20:19-23 where Jesus appears to the disciples. The timing of the event is about 12 hours after the first witness saw Jesus up from the grave. The scene is a private home in Jerusalem. The characters are the disciples, the 12 best students of Jesus. The mood in the room is one of fear and turmoil. And here is what happened…Quote from memory John 20:19-23.
Jesus both did and said something on this occasion that had really important implications for the future of the disciples. He said something with his words, and did something with His actions that really got their attention. Let’s talk about what He said and then we will talk about what He did. When Jesus entered the room, He didn’t even knock. He just passed through the bolted down door and stood right in front of the disciples in resurrected glory. Needless to say, they were shocked and dismayed. And the first words out of His mouth were this, He said, "Peace be with you."Vs.19 Words again repeated just a moment later.
What do those words mean? Let’s take a closer look. The word peace in the ancient language had much deeper meaning than it does today. You and I, as we travel about, we see the peace symbol graffitied on walls, tatooed on arms, and posted on billboards. There was a time when, when it used to be a really hip to say to say to each other, ya know, "Peace, dude, peace!" I suppose overuse of the term has caused some of it’s meaning to be lost. But in the day of Jesus, the word Peace had strong connotations; it was more than just a greeting. The word comes from the Hebrew and is pronounced "Shalom." Which means well being and wholeness. So when Jesus says to His frightened dismayed disciples, "Peace be with you." He’s in affect saying to them, "it is well with you, or wholeness has come." The word Peace, in it’s original context, encompassed a person’s entire state of being; their physical health, emotional health, spiritual health. The Shalom peace offered and bestowed upon the disciples had pretty radical implications and it still has some pretty radical implications. We should not be surprised that Jesus uses this word. He has every right to, because long before Christ was even born, He was prophesied to be, "the prince of peace." Is. 9:6 So the first words out of Jesus mouth when he appeared to the disciples are, "Peace be with you." In other words, "Wholeness has come." or "May it be well with you now."