Friday, April 13, 2012

Sermon April 14-15, 2012

Title: Christ Jesus brings peace to all who believe!

Text: John 20:27-29 (ESV)

7 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Dear friends,

In his book, "Holy Sweat" Tim Hansel writes: "In my late twenties, a bunch of my friends and I decided to sail around the world. I have to admit, though, at the time I was a bit worried. I hadn't even sailed before. I was uneasy and anxious. So I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and praying about it, until it dawned on me that God was whispering …

"Tim, I'll give you peace if you read some books on sailing. The reason you're anxious is not due to a lack of prayer, but to your lack of sailing knowledge."

Tim continues: "I wasn't un-prayerful; I was unskilled. So I took a step I needed to take to let God work his peace in my heart. I began reading about sailing."

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, p. 63.

Christ Jesus brings peace to all who believe!

In the upper room, a room somewhere in Jerusalem, the disciples were gathered together. Concerned over the events that had taken place – their Lord had just been brutally tried and convicted and killed and then there was the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene had went to the tomb followed closely by Peter and John. They had not yet understood what this all meant. Here the disciples are gathered together, Thomas was not present and Judas had already gone and hung himself in remorse ... sitting ... conversing and maybe even some pacing … for fear of the Jews.

Even though their conversation is not recorded, you might imagine one something like this:

“Brothers, what are we to do! Just sit here and hide? No, I say we take up the sword to defend ourselves!” Must we sit and hide like dogs waiting to be turned over to the Romans to suffer the same fate as Jesus?”

Another counters, “But remember, Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  He also said that He would go to prepare a place … and that … He would come again!” What does it all mean?

Phillip stood up among the disciples to speak, “When I asked Him to show us the Father, He said to me, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” This is all so hard to understand. What can we do brothers but sit, wait and hope?

Just then:
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Peace comes to the upper room with Jesus. This was no ghost. This was no vision. The marks in His hands and sides prove it. This was really Jesus standing before them in the same body resurrected from the dead. They had been alone but a moment ago, and now Jesus stood in their midst bringing with Him the greeting of the resurrected Savior: Peace be with you!

Christ Jesus brings peace to all who believe!

For us the ways of the world bring concern and uncertainty. As Christians we at times feel the pressure to compromise our faith and beliefs to accommodate a more tolerable worldview. Temptation and fear can get the better of us. The Devil tells you to run and hide … and at times you do.

Where is your upper room? Where do you go to hide when trouble strikes? Is it your bedroom? Or, a special chair in a quiet place? Or do you hide in the confines of yourself? Keeping your troubles hid from your family, friends and those that care for you … hoping that you or they would just go away.

In this day and age trouble will find you. Jesus had said as much to the disciples when He told them in John Chapter 16:

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Whether the ways of the world’s problems infiltrate and get in to your own personal world or your own sin brings with it the destruction that can disrupt and ruin lives … but in spite of it all remember:

Christ Jesus brings peace to all who believe!

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Jesus was sending his disciples into the world to bring peace. Through the proclamation of the Gospel the word would be preached and the Good News declared to all nations.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

This gift and obligation given to the disciple to retain and forgive sins was no willy-nilly power but only given and to be used through the word. The word of God’s law to declare what He has commanded and how far we miss the mark of his requirements and the word of the Gospel to declare that even though you are a sinner and do what is against God’s law you have an advocate with the Father, our Lord and Savior,

Jesus Christ who brings peace to all who believe!

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Thomas wanted proof and who can blame him. Human reason can’t make sense of this. Why should he believe? He knows that Jesus died. He saw the scourging, the cross, the nails, the blood and the tomb. For Jesus to be alive, well that would be a miracle.

Unbelief is sin. Sin is separation from God. It is the only sin that is unforgiveable. Thomas would not believe. He needed proof. The word proclaimed that Jesus Christ is risen and had stood among them fell on deaf ears. But eight days later they were all once again in that upper room and this time Thomas was with them.

They were together in the same room but you can imagine a different conversation. No longer were they arguing. No longer were they angry. No longer were they fearful … Jesus had brought them peace. The peace of God always guards our heart and minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus Christ brought peace to Thomas. He brings peace to you too. His word of promise that your sins are forgiven is just as true and sure as when Jesus walked into that upper room 2000 years ago.

Martin Luther put it this way:
I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever was placed in God's hands that I still possess.

Dear friends: Our Lord Jesus Christ has you in His hands, placed there by the power of the Holy Spirit who has given you faith to believe in Jesus’ sinless life, death and resurrection – for you. It is His promise!

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me,  that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

My friend Mark Gottlieb, much like Tim Hansel in the opening illustration, built a boat, taught himself to navigate, and sailed from his home in California to Hawaii … a pretty amazing feat. But the greatest feat of all was accomplished by Jesus Christ who took on human flesh, lived a sinless life, died a horrible death on the cross in your place and rose from the dead just for you.

Christ Jesus brings peace to all who believe!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit,