Monday, July 25, 2011

Purchasing Peace

Today's passage:  John 20
      "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:  the chastisement of our PEACE was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."  Isaiah 53:5  (Bolded and capitalized word--mine for emphasis).
     When I was first married, and my husband worked the afternoon shift (which meant he didn't get home until after midnight) there were evenings that I had the spooks.  Every noise in the apartment gave me the shivers.  I would sleep with the blankets pulled up to my chin while my heart beat so hard I felt like it was going to bounce me out of the bed.  As soon as I would doze off, I would be startled awake by another sound which sent the heart palpitating again.  I would repeat Psalm 56:3, a verse I had often taught my preschool Sunday school class, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee, what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee, what time I am afraid I will trust thee" and that would settle my heart somewhat.  Usually the only thing that really calmed my fears completely was when I saw the cause of the noise.  When I discovered it was our large Paku fish bumping around in his tank, or a neighbor moving furniture in a nearby apartment, or old furnace pipes hissing and knocking, my heart stopped racing, and I was able to laugh at my nervousness.
     Jesus has risen.  Witnesses have told the disciples this, including two of their own (John and Peter).  They do not know where He has gone, but they are remembering that He told them what would happen after three days.  Sunday evening they are gathered together in a room somewhere.  Maybe they were going to discuss their strategy for the days ahead.  Maybe they just needed to assure each other they were not alone, because they were certainly afraid of what the Roman soldiers would do to each of them.  Their mood was fearful, maybe even paranoid.  Any person who would have tried the doorknob ("when the doors were shut") would have hushed them.  Any pounding on the windows or heavy steps outside would have them hiding behind furniture.  Perhaps this is why Jesus doesn't come through the door, He just appears among them.  He knew that anyone coming through that door would have sent them into hysterics, so He chose the way He had gone through doors before He had come to this earth, supernaturally.
     "...came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side."  Now I have always believed Jesus told the disciples to have peace because they were afraid.  It makes sense, and I believe that is one of the reasons.  But look what He does next.  He shows them something.  He shows them why they will now have peace.  He shows them His wounds.  He shows them that they will have peace forevermore because He just purchased peace with God by His death on the cross.  This makes me want to shout.  Jesus was not just talking about having peace in their present situation, He was talking about having peace for eternity.  He was talking about the only way to really have peace in our lives, by trusting in His work on the cross.  Thomas was not present in the room at the time, and of course, we all know the statement he makes about not believing Jesus has resurrected until He sees the marks on Christ's body.  Jesus appears to Him and what does He say first?  "Peace be unto you".  What does He invite Thomas to do next?  To examine the punctures in His body.  Why?  Because He wanted Thomas to have the lifetime of peace that His death had bought.  He is showing Thomas why He can have peace.  And He shows us how we can have peace as well.
Thomas Feeling Jesus' Wounds--Taken from Standard Bible Readers, Book Five
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1928
     Just as my fear of the scary noises in my apartment subsided when I could justify the noise, so can my fears about my future be appeased when I realize how Christ offers me peace.  Are you at peace today?  Are you worried and anxious about where you will go after this life?  Jesus offered His body so that you don't have to wonder or fear. 
     Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us how we can have peace.  It is only through You that my heart can be settled about my eternal future and everything else in my life.  Thank You for knowing all my fears and soothing them.  Thank you for knowing everything about me, and showing me why I need never be afraid.

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