April 19, 2020
Passage: John 20: 19-31

The Resurrection of JESUS gives us peace in the midst of trouble and uncertainty. Three times in our text for today, Jesus said, "Peace be with you!" This is an expression or an opinion. It means much more. Jesus has the power to give you the peace that He wishes for you. So, when Jesus says to you today, Peace be with you, you can take it to heart.

God's story is our story. We have been blessed with the Bible, which is God's story of His interaction with His beloved creation. The disciples in our Gospel reading today were then hiding. They were hiding from fear of the Jews. They had seen the rage of the Jews take its full course, as they sent Jesus to the Cross for crimes He had not commit.

What was the last thing the disciples did before the arrest of Jesus? They fled and denied knowing Christ, even though each of them had said they would be willing to die for Jesus. They were still not willing to die for Jesus, otherwise, they would not have been hiding. They were hiding because they were terrified.

The reason being that the same blood-thirsty Jews who had come after their leader, were now coming after them. The only thing standing between them and death was a locked door.

So they were living in fear, knowing the Jews could come at any moment. They had no peace. They knew that Jesus was dead. They also knew that His body had gone from the tomb, but they had no understanding as to what this might mean. Can you imagine the conversation that took place during that day? They were too afraid of the Jews and the Romans to go out in search for the body of Christ, so they sat in that upper room, discussing, arguing, pondering, praying, and recalling the words of Jesus.

They believed what Mary first told them, that the body of Jesus had been taken away and they do not know where they had put Him. But Mary had again told them that she had seen the Lord, but that just made no sense to them.

It was at that tense moment that the Risen Christ stepped into the picture and entered their room. What was the first thing Jesus says to the disciples?

Did He say, Where were you? or You abandoned me? No! He said astonishingly, Peace be with you!

John recorded that, the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord (vs 20). They believed it was Him. They therefore celebrated. They were excited. There was the absolute delight in seeing Jesus risen from the dead, but I think the rejoicing happened partly because in saying, Peace be with you,

Jesus was saying, l forgive you, you thought you were no longer my friends, but you are still my friends and I say peace be with you.

The main thing to remember is this: Jesus is alive and living. He is living with you in your homes, He is living with you in your schools, He is living with you in your marriages, He is living with you in your working places. He is in charge of your family. He is in charge of this country Ghana, and every other country in the world.

Even with COVID-19 going on around you, there is no reason to be afraid. God will protect us. This is our Almighty Lord who rose from the dead saying to us, Peace be with you. The Almighty Lord is telling us to relax, He has got it all under control.

This was a group of frightened men hiding in a locked room who do not even understand what had happened to Jesus. In that state, He tells them that He is sending them. There was no sense that they needed to pass some kind of test first before they got sent out: they were ready.

Jesus knows exactly what we need. He knew what the disciples needed to hear and see and touch. In that first appearance in the locked room, He shows the disciples His hands and His side, to show them He is not a ghost but real and can be touched. When Jesus appeared to His disciples then, Thomas one of the twelve was not with them. So later the other disciples told him, We have seen the Lord! But he did not believe them. If Thomas had only believed that, he would have saved himself a week of worrying. But instead, he decided to become the person we now refer to every year as, doubting Thomas. Instead of taking the other words of telling him, we saw and even felt Jesus!

Thomas said to them, Unless l see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, l will not believe. Thomas was not at peace. He had not been with the other disciples when Jesus came, so he had not experienced that peace Jesus gave. Think about how much trouble we put ourselves through because we doubt God. Right now we are living in the middle of very trouble times. Let me ask you this -

How many of you have not worried about COVID - 19? How many of you have not worried about what is going to happen should the Lockdown be extended again? How many of you have not worried about your health or your children, or your future? We need to be like Thomas. We can have peace in our lives, an inner peace if we surrender our will to Christ. Jesus says, Peace be with you. We also have the Word of God to listen to and have our peace. Jesus steps out of this story we are reading directly into our lives. His story is our story.

He comes to us in our fearful, dead, inadequate, failing state and say, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so l send you, Receive the Holy Spirit, you are blessed because you believe in me.

Do you feel afraid in life?
Do you feel you have let God down?
Jesus says, Peace be with you.
Do you hear God calling you? Jesus says, l am sending you!
Do you feel empty or inadequate? Jesus says, Receive the Holy Spirit.
Have you been shutting God out of your life? Jesus says, Peace be with you.
Do you want to know that Jesus is real? Jesus says, Touch, taste and receive me in the Bread and the Wine.

Jesus speaks directly to you at the end of this encounter. You are given the peace that Jesus is offering you. It is not a worldly peace. It is a Spiritual peace from heaven.
God grant you that kind of peace today.

AMEN!

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