"Peace to You"#85-33
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on April 15, 2018
By Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer, Guest Speaker
(Q&A Topic:Peace to You)
Copyright 2018 Lutheran Hour Ministries
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Text: Luke 24:36-49
Diane and I have five grandchildren, all boys. They love each other; they play well with each other but, yes, from time to time they fight with one another. Last summer we were visiting our daughter Katie and her family in Rockville, Maryland. One day Katie and husband Charlie entrusted us with Drew, who at the time was six years old and Jake, four years old. Everything was going well until, out of the clear blue, Jake sneaked up and attacked his big brother. You can imagine how Drew reacted, tearful, angry, and ready to retaliate. I tell that story to introduce the distinction between reacting and responding. My friend Henry, a psychologist, has impressed that distinction upon me. Grandson Drew reacted when he was attacked.
It's not just little children who react instinctively to some threat or hurt. We all have plenty of situations where we react. A driver cuts you off and you get mad. A friend hurts you for no apparent reason at all. You get a pink slip and blow up. You discover your spouse wrote a check that threw the checkbook out of balance. Whatever it is, it happens, and you churn inside and react outside. When you do not have peace within, you will not have peace without. My message today is this: when you trust that Jesus Christ is present to help you in every situation, the peace He speaks down into your heart will transform your attitude. Instead of impulsive reactions you will respond to whatever comes your way with peace and calm because Christ is with you. On the other hand, face life without Jesus Christ and you'll be deprived of the greatest peace possible, a peace that passes all understanding. Today Jesus wants you to take to heart His word, "Peace to you!"
Let's begin with prayer. "Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, You have made us for Yourself, so that our hearts are restless till they rest in You; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no passion may hinder us from knowing Your will, no weakness from doing it; but in Your light may we see light clearly, and in Your service find perfect freedom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." That beautiful prayer was written by St. Augustine, who lived from 354-430 A.D.
Do you need more peace in your life? I invite you to consider with me a Bible passage from Luke 24. Here's the setting: it is the evening of the first Easter Day. The Emmaus disciples had just run back to Jerusalem from Emmaus and shared stunning news: they had seen Jesus alive! So now picture a room in Jerusalem in which the disciples are huddled together. I read from Luke 24.
"As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, 'Peace to you!' But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit."
Speaking of reacting versus responding, that's a natural reaction. We just aren't used to seeing people materialize out of thin air. I continue reading.
"And he said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and were marveling, He said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them."
The disciples reacted naturally. "This is Jesus' ghost," they think, but He says, "No, I am truly human. Let me prove it to you. Touch Me and see. You can't wave your hand through Me, can you? I have a real body. And how about giving Me something to eat? Ghosts don't eat, do they? But I can. I'm a true human."
Let's pull back for a moment and think about that. Up until now, the disciples had known Jesus in a human way, much the same as you and I know and interact with people in our lives. To be sure, Jesus is a different kind of human being. The Bible teaches that He is the Son of God, but He didn't always use His divine power. The disciples' daily interactions with Him were much like the daily interactions you and I have with people around us. Jesus was born, as true humans are born. He grew up as children do, and like all children, like my grandchildren, Jesus learned. He learned His stepfather's trade, the work of a craftsman, and He also learned His Heavenly Father's Word. His parents provided a religious home life. Then, like most of us, He went to His work, not as a craftsman but in public ministry, traveling and proclaiming that the rule and reign of God has come into our world. Into this visible ministry He called the disciples, and they got to know Him as a true human. They were present with Him physically, much the same way your friends and family are present with you. They walked with Him. They talked with Him. They ate with Him. They saw Him get tired and sleep. They saw Him show human emotions. When they couldn't find Him, they went looking. "Where's Jesus? He must be around here someplace." In other words, they knew He didn't just vanish and materialize somewhere else. Just like us, they could expect His body to be at one place at one time. And finally, His true body was placed in a tomb, for as a true human being He had suffered and died.
But now things change. This Easter evening Jesus tells His disciples, "That's the way you have known Me, but from now on you will relate to Me in a new way. I want you to know Me by faith and not by sight." You used to know and see Me as we walked the roads of Galilee and Judea, but now I can pop in here and I can appear there. Indeed, that's just how the Bible presents Jesus to us after the resurrection. John 20:19 gives this version of today's story. "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, Jesus came and stood among them." Because He has His body, Jesus is still truly human, but He's not confined to one place at one time. He is true God and true man. How else can He promise us, "I am with you always"? (Matthew 28:20). Here's another way Jesus showed the disciples that Easter evening that He now fully uses His power as God, while still being true man. Jesus asks, "Do you have anything here to eat?" Give it to Me so that I can show you that I am still truly human, but as your God I don't need to eat. You used to know and see Me as we ate together, but now I don't need to eat to stay alive. The same in Luke 24. Jesus ate with the Emmaus disciples but then vanished. He doesn't need to be sustained by food as we do. Quite the opposite. True God and true man, He sustains us body and soul. To sum up this amazing Easter eve story, Jesus teaches, "You used to know and see Me as someone who lived and died, and you assumed death was My end. You reacted, but respond with faith, trusting that I am your risen Immanuel, God always with you. Indeed, in Revelation 1:17, Jesus says, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forever, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." And from the book of Hebrews, 1:3, "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3). "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
Does this seem impossible to you? Are you skeptical? Jesus Christ was a man, an amazing man, you'll admit that, but you think He was still just a man. If that's how you're reacting, let me try to plant some doubt. I am fascinated by the key fobs we use to operate today's automobiles. With that little key fob, I can open or lock my car at a distance. I can pop open the trunk. If I can't remember where the car is in the parking lot, I push the button and my car starts making a noise. And when I'm in the car, I can program my destination into the car's electronics or into my cell phone, and the GPS will tell me how to get where I want to go. I can't see any of that. I don't understand how that works, but I know it's for real. In other words, in our day-to-day life not everything is seen but we use it, we depend upon it, we trust it. If it's this way in our daily life, why do we react to Jesus' resurrection appearances with skepticism? Electronics can do things that the God-Man Jesus Christ cannot do, really? "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
When you trust the living Lord Jesus Christ is present to help you in every situation, the peace He speaks down into your heart will transform your attitude. We all react to things that come our way. The driver cuts you off. Your friend does something hurtful. The doctor gives you a bad prognosis. What is it in your life? Remember my friend Henry's distinction between reacting and responding? When impulsive reactions well up within you because something hurts or scares you, trusting that the living Lord Jesus says, "Peace to you," will transform your reaction into a calm and peaceful response. How can you get to that place where you believe His words of peace? Let me read on from today's passage in Luke 24.
Then He said to them, 'These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
How can you respond with faith that Jesus is with you always? Let the Spirit of the Lord Jesus pour that faith into your heart. And with that faith, you'll experience peace. He does that by His Word. "He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name." Your sins are forgiven. Do not be troubled. Do not react impulsively. Peace to you in every time of need!
Know Jesus as your brother, fully human and yet fully God. Do you have humble origins? Maybe you're an immigrant or children of immigrants? Do you feel lesser than others? Your brother Jesus, true God and true Man, has humble origins, born in a stable. Do you put yourself down because you don't have as much as the Joneses? Your Brother Jesus, true God and true Man, said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matthew 8:20). And where was He buried? In a borrowed tomb! Do you struggle with sin? Do you feel trapped by something you know is not godly? Your Brother Jesus, true God and true Man, was tempted by Satan in the wilderness but overcame temptation with the Word of God. He rebuffed sin by quoting Scripture, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve" (Luke 4:8). Are you torn about what to do? In Gethsemane your Brother Jesus, true God and true Man, was torn between life and death, but He submitted to the Father's will so that you and I can have forgiveness, life and salvation. "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will" (Matthew 26:40). Do you have fears about suffering and death? Your Brother Jesus true God and true Man, promises to lead you through the valley of the shadow of death. It comes down to this. Things come our way and we react, immediately, and sometimes impulsively, and the result for us and others is seldom positive. That's natural. When you're about to react, push the pause button and remember your Brother is with you.
The writer of Hebrews says, "Since we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16-17).
I mentioned all our grandchildren are boys; these earthly brothers and cousins love one another. And God loves you. That's why He has given us our Brother, Jesus, true God and true Man. When our broadcast is over, I encourage you to open your Bible and meditate upon Luke 24. Respond to life with trust in Jesus, our beautiful Savior.
Beautiful Savior, King of creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee, Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my joy, my crown. (Lutheran Service Book, 537, 1)
I close with a prayer the church has prayed for centuries.
O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Reflections for APRIL 15, 2018
Title: PEACE TO YOU
Mark Eischer: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour, and that was Dr. Dale Meyer. Now, Pastor Ken Klaus joins us from his home in Texas. Hello, Pastor.
Ken Klaus: Hello, Mark. Good to be with you.
Mark Eischer: What about Dr. Meyer's message? What had the greatest impact on you?
Ken Klaus: It was something he said at the very beginning. If you have the manuscript, perhaps you can fill in the quote. It began, "My message today is this ..."
Mark Eischer: He said, "My message today is this: when you trust that Jesus Christ is present to help you in every situation, the peace He speaks down into your heart will transform your attitude."
Ken Klaus: Yep, that's the part which hit me where I live.
Mark Eischer: Can you explain?
Ken Klaus: I can, but first I'd like to call attention to the fact Dr. Meyer uses some absolutes here. He said, "Jesus is there to help you in every situation." Later he said, "You will respond to whatever comes you way with peace and calm."
Mark Eischer: Why is that so important?
Ken Klaus: It's simple. While I know Jesus helps in all situations, there are times when I'm not always ready to be helped toward peace and calm.
Mark Eischer: Any examples of what you mean?
Ken Klaus: It comes from a long time ago, when I was serving my own congregation, Bethesda, in Hot Springs, South Dakota, but I was also at the same time providing pastoral care to three other churches that were without pastors at the same time.
Mark Eischer: I can imagine making the rounds was quite a challenge at times, and also quite a drive.
Ken Klaus: Indeed. On Wednesdays, I taught confirmation to the young people of these four churches. Well, one Wednesday my alarm didn't go off and I got started late. In my haste to make up for lost time, I stubbed my toe on a kitchen chair. I couldn't find my Catechism. Then I couldn't find my keys. Then, as I hobbled to my car, I noticed the right front tire was low. I had to stop at a gas station for air.
Mark Eischer: Sounds like anything that could go wrong, was going wrong.
Ken Klaus: I put the pedal to the metal. In record time, I made it to my first stop: Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Custer. I blew into town under full sail, failing to notice a stop sign posted at the city limits.
Mark Eischer: That's not good.
Ken Klaus: It gets worse. I failed to notice the sign, but the policeman parked there was far more observant. Within a block, there were flashing lights in my rearview mirror.
Mark Eischer: So now your late schedule had now become your really late schedule.
Ken Klaus: I jumped out of the car-which is a practice police frown on today-and I stomped toward his vehicle. I was doubly displeased: displeased at the idea of a ticket; and, as you said, displeased at being made later than I already was. As I walked, I grabbed my license from of my wallet and shoved it his way. As he took it, I mumbled something like, "Go ahead. Give me a ticket. You might as well. Everything else is going wrong today."
Mark Eischer: Sounds like you could have used some of the peace Dr. Meyer was talking about today.
Ken Klaus: Oh, yes. As the policeman tucked my license onto his clipboard, in that kind of calming voice policepersons reserve for hot heads such as me, he said, "Sir, I know just what you mean. I used to have days like that ... before I became a Christian."
Mark Eischer: I think you just got burned there.
Ken Klaus: Mark, there have been times in my life when I have not been happy with myself. As I look back, that day rates in the top ten. It was a day I wish I could do over. At the same time, it was a tremendous learning experience.
Mark Eischer: And just what was it you learned?
Ken Klaus: The first thing I learned was I could have hurt someone, especially myself, by going that fast. I learned to slow down.
Mark Eischer: And the next thing.
Ken Klaus: That if I let him, the devil can take matters of little consequence and make them seem much bigger than they should be.
Mark Eischer: It's a series of little incidents which, when taken together, can often change our whole outlook.
Ken Klaus: Exactly. And that's where what Dr. Meyer said is especially important. The Lord Jesus was there, waiting to give me His peace. He was there when the alarm clock didn't go off; He was there when I stubbed my toe; He was there when I missed the light. He was especially there, speaking to me through the words of a very understanding Christian officer of the law.
Mark Eischer: Often, I think people believe the Lord's peace is there for the really big things, but not the small ones.
Ken Klaus: Bingo. He's always there-more ready to help than we are to be helped.
Mark Eischer: And that's what helps you respond to situations rather than just react to them.
Ken Klaus: Well, Jesus' peace has done that for me. Although I must confess in all honesty it is a work in progress. But it has helped-as have the words of the Civil War General Stonewall Jackson.
Mark Eischer: Stonewall Jackson. From what I know of him, he was a devoutly Christian man. He taught at Virginia Military Institute. He once said his faith enabled him to feel as safe in battle as in bed.
Ken Klaus: That's the fellow. He believed the Lord's peace was always there, if we took time to see it. He said, "When I take a drink of water, I always pause, as my palate receives the refreshment, to lift up my heart to God in thanks and prayer for the water of life. Whenever I drop a letter into the box at the post office, I send a petition along with it for God's blessings upon its mission and upon the person to whom it is sent. When I break the seal of a letter just received, I stop to pray to God that He may prepare me for its contents and make it a message of good. When I go to my classroom and await the arrangement of the cadets in their places, that is my time to intercede with God for them. And so of every other familiar act of the day."
Mark Eischer: Thank you, Pastor Klaus.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"With High Delight" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)