Summary: What difference does the presence of the living Christ make?
On a Sunday evening some 2,000 years ago, the disciples of Jesus were huddled together in fear, hiding from those they thought might call for their death, as they has called for the execution of their Master. They’d seen Him crucified and His body laid in a tomb. For them, suddenly life had become empty and meaningless. But out of nowhere, the risen, living Lord Jesus appeared to them! And in that moment, the lives of these 10 disciples were forever changed!
Our living Savior is also ready to change lives today, like He changed the lives of those 10 disciples! The Good News we proclaim is not that Jesus lived and died, but that Jesus died and now lives! If one comes to Christ, placing their faith and trust in Him, they’ll discover, by virtue of His presence in their lives, that like the disciples, their lives have changed! Or as the great missionary, Hudson Taylor said it, their life has been “exchanged.” Like the disciples, they exchange . . .
1. Fear for Peace - v. 19
Jesus entered a place dominated by fear and flooded it with peace! And when one allows Christ into his life, he finds, by virtue of His presence, Jesus will flood his life with peace! Part of the reason is, when we turn to Christ, we go from being at war to being at peace with God.
“You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” - Colossians 1:21b-22 (NLT)
In the center of the Seal of the President of the United States is a dominant likeness of the American Eagle. A bundle of arrows, a symbol of strength and war, is clenched in the Eagle’s left claw. An Olive branch is held in the Eagle’s right claw, signifying peace.
Today the Eagle’s head is turned to his right with an intense focus on peace. Prior to the term of President Harry S. Truman, the Eagle’s head was turned to his left with a focus on war.
When one turns from sin to the Savior, from trusting in self to trusting in Christ, the focus of his life is changed from turmoil and conflict to peace and serenity! And not only are we at peace with God, we possess the peace of God, which Paul describes as a “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Two artists were once asked to paint a picture illustrating serenity. The first painted a beautiful evening scene. ln the foreground was a lake, its surface calm, surrounded by meadows that stretched as far as the eye could see. Cattle were gently grazing in the lush fields. Near the lake stood a small cottage, beautifully reflected in the quiet waters. The sun was setting, bathing the sky in shades of scarlet. Everything about the picture was serene.
The second artist chose a different path. He painted a wild, stormy scene with heavy black clouds rolling ominously overhead. Lightning flashed through the darkness as torrential rain lashed the setting. A raging river plunged over a high cliff in the center of the portrait, its waters crashing against the rocks in a never ending display of power. But nearby, in the shelter of a small crevice, a small bird sat secure on her nest, absolutely sheltered from the chaos that raged around her. The second painting depicted serenity better than the first. It was no contest.
Though chaos may reign around the child of God, because of the presence of Christ, peace can reign within us.
2. Sorrow for Joy - v. 20
When the disciples realized that the Lord was with them, they were overjoyed. Likewise, when Christ moves into yow life, your awareness of His presence in your life will fill you with a sense of joy!
“Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.” - Anonymous
John 16:22 tells us that by virtue of the presence of the risen Lord in our lives, we will rejoice, and Jesus said, “no one will take away your joy.” I like the fact that the Bible says the disciples were “overjoyed.” In other words, they “overdosed” on joy. Such is the nature of the joy that comes by virtue of the presence of the risen Lord in our lives. It is a joy described by Peter as “Joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
When it comes to joy, one needs to realize that the devil’s agenda and the Lord’s agenda are very different.
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” - John 10:10 (NLT)