How Do I Discover Enduring Peace? (Easter 2024)

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Amen. How about a round of applause for our band and all those put in the effort to make today’s special? And though we had people here Friday and then getting here as early as 6:00 this morning out in that weather, a laboring for us to have this day of worship and what a beautiful day it is to worship. You think today is the greatest day in history, that as First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 55 tells us that death has been defeated. Where is your sting, old death? And we’ve learned that through the resurrection of Christ, we’ve been given this incredible hope that just as he lives, we can live too. And so for us, this is the day to celebrate. This is the day that changes every day to understand what what Christ has done for us. And I know this morning I’ve got the difficult task which is keeping every age focused on on what we’re we’re saying today. But I want you to I want to leave my remarks quick. I want to make them energetic. I want to make them short, uh, just just so that we can appreciate collectively among all our ages here today what Jesus has done for us. But as as we think about the importance of today, I think it’s significant to remind us that as we celebrate, that’s not how the first Easter started. In fact, the demeanor of of the disciples on that first Easter Sunday was was one of feeling dejected, feeling, feeling defeated, being at lost, being fearful and concerned about what the future would hold for them because of of their identity as followers of Jesus.

They just saw what had happened to Jesus. And now, being some of their closest followers, their concern became for their own life. And in fact, in John chapter 20, verse 19, it says for us on the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked, where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. But what is saying for us that that first Sunday morning, when the when the Jewish people were, uh, gathered together, the followers of Jesus that that their their faces weren’t one of elation and celebration, but rather, as it says in this passage of fear. And you can imagine maybe some of those conversations on that first morning before they hear of the resurrected Christ, what the disciples may have been saying, I mean, even thinking about Mary personally, being at the cross, watching the death of her own son, the the way she would be mourning, having watched such horrific ending to her son’s life. I mean, even the disciples the week before, walking with Jesus into Jerusalem, seeing the crowds shout Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Save us now, oh son of David! The crowds roaring at the cheer of Jesus, riding on the back of a donkey.

And yet, just one week later, being crucified, I can imagine the disciples together in this room asking the question, where did it all go wrong? What happened? And even Peter, in these moments, knowing he was the one that turned his back on Jesus after he so boldly declared over my dead body, Christ will. Will I let this happen to you? It’s Peter that denies Jesus three times, and in these moments, the the state of the disciples would have been of extreme discouragement, disheartened, feeling like they lost. But then all of a sudden, the very next verse says to us, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, peace be with you. You think of the the first words Christ says to his disciples, what a powerful word Jesus is reflecting upon with them. Because this is a this is a messianic declaration from the very beginning of the book of Genesis that Jesus understood that from from the time of Adam and Eve, when mankind sinned against God, that we lost that place of peace, we lost peace and our connection to this, the relationship to this world. We lost peace in our relationship with one another because of sin. But ultimately we we lost peace in our relationship with God. And when Jesus gives this declarative word, what he is saying to the Jewish mind is this this thought of shalom, this holistic restoration in all of the Bible.

This is the first time this word has truly been used, and it’s been able to be delivered, that what Jesus came to accomplish for us was achieved on the cross, that we may once again have peace in our relationship with God, and the hope that one day he will return and restore all peace throughout the earth. But but here’s the question how do we find that peace? I think even the last few years in in our world, how tumultuous things have been, people feuding over the the thoughts of a of a virus, whether or not you get a shot or you don’t, you wear a mask or you don’t. Wars take. Place and in places like Afghanistan and Ukraine and and Israel. Inflation going rampant, all this turmoil in the world around us. And here we see Jesus in this passage giving this declaration of peace. How how do we find peace when your notes this morning, just to cover this briefly for us and and verses 20 to verse 22, Jesus shares with us where we can find the hope of an enduring peace, something that transcends the the difficulty of the circumstances in which we face day to day. Where does it come from? And the next verse, Jesus says to us. Uh, he encourages us. And this is the first point in your notes to, to to trust and the reliability of the resurrection, to trust in the reliability of the resurrection.

And Jesus says it like this. And when he had said this, he showed them both his hands and his side. Jesus wants them to deal with the tangible physical reality of the resurrection, to see the significance of what’s just taken place, that this isn’t just spiritually coming from the grave, but also in bodily form. Jesus has overcome. In fact, the Apostle Paul says it like this in first Corinthians chapter one verse 18, the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us which are saved, it is the the power of God. The Apostle Paul gives the declaration of the significance of what the cross represents, that eternal God would bear the cup of wrath that we could be found in, in freedom in him, eternally forgiven in the Lord. And so Jesus gives us this, this tangible demonstration of this resurrection. Because there was no doubt in this first century Jesus was dead. In fact, the the apostle Paul tells us in first Corinthians 15 verse 14, If Jesus has not been raised from the grave, our our faith is to be rejected. The resurrection of Christ becomes central to what we believe in. And and when it comes to Jesus in this first century, there was no doubt among his his followers that Jesus was dead. He was killed by professional executioners, declared dead, thrown in a tomb with no medical treatment, and a giant rock rolled in front of it.

Jesus was dead and the disciples were scared. But yet suddenly everything changed. And the question becomes what? What caused these disciples to go from being fearful cowards to being so bold that they would be willing to give their life for what Christ has done? And the only answer that makes sense is the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, when you read in the Old Testament there were prophecies that declared Jesus was going to die on the cross, and Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 and Isaiah would be or, excuse me, Jesus would be resurrected from the grave. And in Psalm chapter 16, verse 8 to 10, and not only that, you have people like the apostle Paul in first Corinthians 15 verse six saying, hundreds of people saw the resurrected Jesus. If you don’t believe me, go ask them. Not only did the apostle Paul write in the in the New Testament, but but the other New Testament authors attested to the resurrection of Jesus to to the point that they went on to give their life for Christ even in the first century. You can read historians that didn’t follow after Jesus writing about the resurrected Christ. Men by the name of thallus and another one by Tacitus and Suetonius and Josephus and Pliny the Younger and Trajan. All all people from the first century that weren’t even followers of Jesus, talking about the resurrection of Christ and the faith that his followers put into it.

Death, we learned in these moments, had no victory over him. The disciples go from fearful to bold followers in order to discover this peace that endures. It’s significant for us to find trust in the reliability of the resurrection. And not only that, number two in your notes is to find reason to rejoice thanks to the resurrection. It says to us in the next verse. Then the disciples were glad when they saw, when they saw the Lord. We see in this passage that their entire demeanor changes from one of of gloom, one of one of thoughts of despair, one of thoughts of defeat, to suddenly the reality of this resurrection helps them recognize the importance of what’s just taking place here, not just for Jesus, but for for those that have faithfully followed them these three years that they have been with Christ. You know, it’s. It’s impossible for us as people, or maybe I should say, nearly impossible for us to to rejoice when we’re afraid to rejoice, when we feel that there’s the world is falling apart around us and in us. When those types of situations happen, we become very insular. We start to think about our struggles and how to how to preserve ourselves and our own well-being. But but when our circumstances change and we know our position is secure and we have what we need, suddenly we go from thinking internally to all of a sudden externally, we begin to to, to rejoice over, over the circumstances of what’s taking place.

Because in it we discover hope. You know, when we think about the importance of an enduring peace, it’s significant to to recognize our peace doesn’t come from from our own strength, from from our willpower or being more spiritual. The peace that we’re talking about here comes only from from God’s grace and his love extended to us by his willingness to give his life, that we can have hope forever in him. It’s not about what you do, it’s about what he’s done on your behalf. Jesus isn’t coming looking for for perfect people. Jesus isn’t even coming looking for good people. The message of the gospel is to take dead people and bring them to life. This is why what Jesus did for us is so important. At the end of Galatians chapter two, it tells us if righteousness could be achieved in any other way, then Christ died needlessly. But knowing this was the only opportunity that we had for hope that God would become our substitute in our sin. Jesus birth freedom for us in him, and because of what he has done, we no longer have to think in Sillery, but rather God has entered into our world that we could be free in him. And so point number three in your notes, because of that, is to live for an eternal purpose through the resurrection.

It says in verse 21, So Jesus said to them again, peace be to you, just as the father has sent me, I also am sending you. When we understand the power of the resurrection, it’s not just something that happens in us, but it’s something that God desires to do through us that we realize this is a gift. Not just not just intended for me, but rather this is this is a gift that God has given for all of humanity. If we would trust in him the beauty of going into this world and declaring to this world that there is a God who knows right where you are, he knows exactly what you’re going through. He loves you. He cares about you. In fact, he loves and cares about you so much that he’s willing to pursue you by this earth and giving his very life that you can find freedom in him, that you were created for relationship in God and it’s not until you come to the cross where he gave his life for you, that you truly find that freedom, and the church is given that beautiful opportunity to declare that, you know, I very mindful this morning when we started ABC in 2008, we started with just a couple of families and one family in particular. I remember very prayerful that we would start a church in this city and God would do an incredible work. And, you know, when I think about looking in a room like this today, over, over the joy of knowing what Jesus continues to do in the lives of his people, it is it is powerful that the same God who’s moving in the first century is still alive and active in his people even now.

And when you consider if God’s people could just grab a hold of the power of the resurrection and let that not only impact in them, but also through them, that this is just the beginning of what God can do through his people as we follow him faithfully. Tertullian in the first excuse me in the second century, he said this about the church knowing adversity is still going to come and the challenges of life are not going to end until the return of Jesus. But God’s people can have a peace knowing that no matter what happens, you will win. You win now and you will win for eternity in Jesus. You will not stop winning. And Tertullian said this about the early church. They so much believed in the resurrection that not even the fear of persecution would stop them. And he said, the more you mow us down, the more numerous we grow. The blood of Christians is seed. People saw the first century church, second century church. In fact, the first 250 years of church history was faced by persecution, though the worst of it even came before, in the early third century, with a man by the name of of Diocletian that the church went so boldly into the face of persecution that that there.

Their tenacity towards the resurrection of Christ inspired others to get to know this Jesus. And when the church grabs hold of the power of the resurrection, it gives us the privilege of living on purpose. And the next is this point number four receive new life. Because of the resurrection, we receive new life because of the resurrection. And this is where Jesus does something strange. Verse 22 and it says, and when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. Now I know some of you have had to put up with some pretty bad morning breath at some point in your life, right? All of us have experienced what that’s like, maybe personally or talking to someone that wakes up that way. But when you read this passage, Jesus isn’t just coming at this with morning breath. This is three day dead morning breath. Right. And he’s he’s breathing this on the disciples. If he’s going to do something like this, this must be pretty important, right? What is Jesus doing? He’s like peace be with you. And he just says like, it’s an interesting thing Jesus is doing, but but what Jesus is saying is so profoundly incredible. I mean, this is the reason, as Christians, when we gather the building to us is not important because what God is doing in us is far more important than any place that we gather.

Because you become the temple of God, you become the place of God because the presence of God’s Spirit indwells his people. And we have the promise, or at least the the statement of this starting to be seen in John chapter 20. And this is this is what Jesus is doing in the book of Genesis when God first created us. It tells us in Genesis chapter two that God breathed into you the breath of life. Look at this. The Lord God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature when God first made you. Here’s what it’s saying. God made you to know him. God made you to connect with him. God made you to enjoy his presence for all of eternity. God breathes his life into you. God made you in his image different than any other creature God has designed. God made you intentionally. He formed you from the dirt of the ground in order to connect with him relationally. But here’s what happens Adam and Eve sinned, and the Bible tells us that sin has cut you off from your relationship with God. Isaiah 59 verse two. It has created a barrier between you and him, and mankind has responded by trying to create religion in order to bridge that gap. Truth be told, religion will never bridge that gap.

And from this day on, you can decide to be as good as you can possibly be and do nothing wrong. But but it will never take away the sin of your past. There’s only one way that happens by the grace and forgiveness of God. And then when you read in the New Testament because of the cross, it says to us in the book of Corinthians, chapter five verse 17, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come. Look at this. What’s so valuable in this passage is not just that you’re a new creation, but that you be in Christ. This is not saying that you just know about Christ, but that your life truly be found in him, what he’s accomplished for you. And this is what Jesus is saying to us, that God in this, in these moments, has bridged the gap. The reason Jesus comes in, John 20 and breathes on his disciples. He’s saying, just as God created you in the beginning, made in his image that you could connect to him for relationship, that God gave you that life, but then sin destroyed it. So Jesus has returned in order to bring a recreation, that you can be made new again. And in that newness find new life in Christ through the power of God’s Spirit placed in you. But the question for all of us is, are you in Christ? Do you know Christ? Has there ever been a time in your life where you were honest before God and said, maybe to the Lord, Lord, I have been trying to do good, but you didn’t come here to make good men great or great men even better.

You came to bring death to life. And God, I will never have that life unless you breathe that life in me. That’s why the Bible promises in Romans chapter ten. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. That when we see the significance of what Christ has done, we realize Jesus didn’t just do this as a good idea. If all Jesus was interested in is making religious people more religious, he would have showed up in the first century in the most religious place in the world, Israel, and said, great job at being religious. But that’s not what Jesus came for. Jesus came to invite us back into relationship with him, that we could be completely cleansed and forgiven. And there is only one way that happens, and that’s through the cross. That’s why the apostle Paul said in first Corinthians chapter one verse 18, the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us who are saved, it’s the power of God. It’s the anthem of God’s people.