Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634

April 2019

Peace Be with You!

If I were Jesus, the first thing I would have said to the disciples after rising from the dead would have been, "I told you so!" But, instead the first words Jesus spoke to His disciples after His resurrection were, "Peace, be with you!"

Jesus' greeting wasn't just a mere formality. For his "greeting of Peace" summarized His entire mission on earth.

When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Savior, soon after other angels appeared, saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth and peace to men on whom his favor rests."

By giving us His only begotten Son Jesus, whose substitutionary death on the cross has made it possible for us to exchanged our sins with his sinlessness, God has provided a way for us to be at perfect peace with Him in all His Holiness in spite of our many sins, just as He had promised to do in Genesis 3:15 after the fall.

Just think for a moment the implications and ramifications of being at peace with the omnipotent, omniscient God, knowing that all your sins have been forgiven as far as the east is from the west, and that you are living in God's favor! As Romans 8:31 confidently declares "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

And as the following verse in Romans 8 says, "He is working out all things for the good, of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (verse 32).

In the Old Testament, when people wanted to celebrate the peace they enjoyed with God, they would make what was called a "peace offering". And the person making the offering would have a meal with the priest, symbolizing the fellowship they had with God.

In Luke 24:36, Jesus greeted the disciples with the words, "Peace be with you!": Then he went on to say in verse 41, "Do you have anything here to eat?" And verses 42-43 it tells us, "They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence".

By eating fish with his disciples, Jesus was demonstrating that he wasn't a ghost or figment of their imagination, but had indeed risen from the dead. On top of that, he was also expressing the fellowship that He longed to have with his disciples, as typified in the peace offering meal. Just as the priest would have a meal with the person making the peace offering, so Jesus, as the Great High Priests, was having a meal with His disciples.

God wants us to not only eat with him, but to do everything with Him to the glory of His holy name. He is not like the gods of the animists to be placated and manipulated in order to avoid their wrath and receive their blessing.

Instead, He desires so much to have a personal relationship with us that He sent His only begotten Son to become one of us in order that he might be the acceptable sacrifice for our sins. As a result, not only can we be forgiven, but we can experience the peaceful fellowship with Him that results from that forgiveness.

The poet James Weldon Johnson expresses God's longing for peaceful fellowship with people when he writes:

"And God stepped out on a space and He looked around and said, "I'm lonely…I'll make me a world.....Then God walked around, and God looked around On all that He had made. He looked at His sun, and He looked at His little stars; He looked on His world with all its living things, and God said, "I'm lonely still". Then God sat down on the side of a hill where He could think by a deep, wide river He sat down; With His head in His hands, God thought and thought, Till He thought, "I'll make me a man!"

God longs to have a peaceful relationship with you all the days and moments of your life As Jesus says in John 14:27, "Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

This is the same peace that is expressed in the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, "The Lord bless you and keep thee, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his ace toward you and give you peace".

The peace expressed in what is known as the Apostolic blessing: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.

As well as the peace expressed in Paul's letters to the churches when he writes, "Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!"

This side of heaven, we live in a less than peaceful world, which is why Isaiah 9:6 calls the Messiah the "Prince of Peace" rather than the "King of Peace". For a prince, while a rightful heir to the throne, must wait until He is crowned King before taking full reign over His Kingdom. Hence, we must wait until Jesus returns as King of Kings to reign in heaven, where there will be perfect peace for all eternity.

In the meantime, we can still enjoy the perfect peace of being in fellowship with God, in spite of the less than peaceful circumstances we often experience on this earth.

If Jesus were to show up at your house today, I cannot help but believe that He would greet you with the same words he spoke to his disciples after rising from the dead, "Peace be with you!" And then go on to say, Oh, by the way, do you have anything to eat?" "Let's enjoy peaceful, fellowship together!"

May you experience the peace that passes human understanding that comes from being in fellowship with God that He desires us to have with you as His forgiven child!

The Peace of the Lord be with you Always!

Pastor Wendt

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