Summary: What would you do if Jesus suddenly appeared standing there in the flesh in front of you? What did Jesus' disciples do? What did they think Jesus might do? Jesus appears to bring peace like only he can.
If Jesus were to suddenly, without warning, appear in church this morning, what would you do? What would you say? We would probably begin with a bit of skepticism. “Is this really Jesus, THE Jesus that we’ve heard so much about?” You might wonder if your eyes were deceiving you, if this was just a figment of your imagination. Is this for real?
Last weekend we heard about two of Jesus’ disciples who on Easter afternoon walked with Jesus who had hidden his identify from them. Do you remember how that account ended? They sat down to eat with Jesus and that’s when they recognized who it was. They realized that this was Jesus. Their friend. Their teacher. Their Savior. But as soon as they recognized him, he disappeared. The quickly return to Jerusalem, going to the room where they knew the rest of the disciples were hiding and they announced, “It is true. The Lord has risen!” (Luke 24:34). They began explaining how that afternoon they had walked and talked with Jesus and that’s when it happened. Suddenly, without warning, Jesus was there standing among his disciples. What would they do? What would they say?
Maybe the better question to ask is what would JESUS do, what would JESUS say to them? Do you remember the last time Jesus saw those disciples and what they were doing? The last time most of them had seen Jesus was four days ago, when Jesus was arrested. What were those brave disciples of Jesus doing who had said along with Peter, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you" (Mark 14:21)? They were running away from Jesus, not wanting to be associated with him. Their fear of being identified as a follower of Jesus had not diminished over the last couple of days especially after hearing and seeing what had happed to Jesus. We heard, “The disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders” (John 20:19). They were afraid that what happened to Jesus might happen to them. But now as Jesus stood in front of them, their fear may have shifted a bit. Instead of being afraid of what the Jewish leaders were going to do to them, they might have been afraid of what Jesus would do or at the very least say to them. And rightfully so as they considered how they had acted or not, the words they said or did not.
And we know what that’s like, don’t we? When you think of the omniscience of God – that God knows everything about you, how does that initially make you feel at even the thought of having to stand before that all-knowing God? Jesus knows your internet search history, the clicks to places and to pictures that you should not go, that do not honor God or demonstrate respect for others. Jesus knows those times when we were afraid to be identified as a follower of Christ, silently standing by as someone at work or school questioned how anyone could be so foolish and stupid to believe in all that Bible Christian stuff. Jesus knows the motives behind the things that we do that on the surface look so good and helpful to others, but are actually prompted by sinful pride, arrogance or fear. Jesus knows it all. Now let me ask you again what would you do, what would you say, if Jesus suddenly, without warning, was standing here before you today?
Like Jesus’ disciples on Easter evening, it’s not so much about what WE would say or what WE would do. What is most important is what JESUS says and what JESUS has done. What were the first words out of Jesus’ mouth as he stood before these sinful skeptics? “Peace be with you!” Peace? Really? Didn’t they deserve to be punished? Yes. Without a doubt that is what they and ever sinner deserve from a holy and just God. But what the sinner deserves, Jesus has taken. That is the peace that Jesus announces – the peace of sins forgiven – peace with God. After all, that’s why Jesus came into this world. Do you remember the announcement that the angel made on the night of Jesus’ birth? “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). Jesus came to bring peace between God and sinners. The price of that peace required the perfect Son of God going to the cross and taking the punishment of our sins. Because Jesus has been punished in our place, God cannot punish us. We are forever free from sin’s punishment. While the memories of our past sins may still linger in our minds, because of what Jesus has done, God declares, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). What a truly profound thought that because of Jesus, God has chosen not to remember your sins. The God who knows all things, knows nothing of your sins. They are gone! Forever forgotten!