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Peace Be Unto You

The Crown and the The Cross

John 20

Jesus could give the customary greeting of “Peace be unto you” as one who actually has the power to give peace.

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For most of the major decisions in our lives, we can identify a pivotal moment. It might be the moment when the straw broke the camels back and you’d finally had enough, so you quit your job…Maybe it was the moment when you learned some important information and the scales were tipped on which career you were going to pursue… It might have been an incredible date or an amazing conversation when you knew, this is the person you were going to marry…

However, in all of those situations,  you were already headed toward that decision… You were already dating, you were already mulling over the decision about your career, or you were already thinking about quitting your job. You were headed in that direction, but then it suddenly became even more clear.

In today’s passage we’ll see a pivotal moment for John.

John had been following Jesus throughout Jesus’ ministry. He had watched miracles, he heard sermons, and he had watched Jesus be arrested, tried, and executed. This doesn’t seem like the right moment for a pivotal step forward, at least not in the positive direction, but in this moment the unexpected happens… Well, at least it was unexpected by Jesus followers. Scripture had been pointing toward this moment for generations and Jesus had foretold of it Himself numerous times during His ministry, but the disciples of Jesus were still caught off guard when on the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the dead.

Read John 20:1-9

When John saw the “napkin” of the burial shroud that was around Jesus’ head and face, neatly folded and placed separately from the rest of the burial clothes, John believed. John had arrived at the tomb before Peter, but waited at the door. When Peter arrived he immediately went in. John had been standing there looking and probably thinking that the fact the burial clothes were laying there was significant.

John had been standing at the door looking at the burial clothes and when he saw the part of the burial clothing that would have been around Jesus head lying separately and folded neatly, that was the moment of belief in the resurrection.

The detail of the napkin made it clear and compelling for John.

Now John had loved and believed in Jesus before this moment, but this moment was when the resurrection became real for John.

Now, it’s important that you understand that this belief was not a belief of convenience. John’s belief that Jesus rose from the dead would make life very inconvenient. This conclusion that John comes to would lead to the death of many of his friends, it would lead to his imprisonment or exile on a small island.

People often die for something that is false, but no one dies for a belief they know to be false.

“The disciples’ willingness to suffer and die for their beliefs indicates that they certainly regarded those beliefs as true. The case is strong that they did not willfully lie about the appearances of the risen Jesus. Liars make poor martyrs.”

– Gary Habermas & Michael Licona 

This was the moment for John, however this moment would be followed by appearances of Jesus to the disciples, which John will go one to tell us about. This moment was preceded by plenty of opportunities to get to know Jesus… However, there was a moment.

Have you had that moment?

Has there been a moment when you came to believe in Jesus? Has there been the moment that you decided that this is real? It probably won’t happen all at once and afterward there will be many more moments of strengthening in your faith, but there must be the moment when you come to believe.

Now that Nicole and I have been married for 15 years, and since we dated for several years before that, we’ve been together for more than half of our lives.  At this point it feels like we’ve always been together. I can hardly remember what it was like to not be with Nicole and can’t imagine a future without her.

However, if someone were to ask me if I was married, I wouldn’t say, oh, we’ve always been married! I wouldn’t say, well my parents were married, so now that I’m old enough, I’m married. Nethier would I say, well I try to be married every day or I feel married. Instead, I would say, yes! On June 19th of 2004 we stood in front of a large gathering of our family and friends and publicly made vows to one another.

The correct response to, are you a follower of Jesus isn’t, well my parents were, or I try to be every day, or I feel like I’m a good person. The correct response is, yes. I came to believe and decided to follow Jesus when I was 27 years old…

When was the moment you believed?

I want you to skip down to the end of this chapter.

30And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

21:25

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

John couldn’t record them all, but He has given us this book which records 7 I Am Statements and 7 Signs of Jesus divinity.

7 I Am Statements:

  1. “I am the bread of life (John 6:35).
  2. “I am the light of the world. (John 8:12).
  3. “I am the door (John 10:9).
  4. “I am the good shepherd. (John 10:11).
  5. “I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25).
  6. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6).
  7. “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).

7 Signs:

  1. Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:
  2. Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4
  3. Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5
  4. Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
  5. Jesus walking on water in John 6
  6. Healing the man blind from birth in John 9
  7. The raising of Lazarus in John 11

John has built a thematic case for the person and power of Jesus.

He’s made it clear who Jesus is and in his closing statements He makes it clear why He came. It’s one thing to know what happened, it’s another to understand why.

Many of you probably ate Turkey and Pumpkin Pie this week. Many of you probably ate too much! Do you know why? Sarah Hale was an author and magazine editor who was a major proponent of Thanksgiving becoming a National Holiday. An entire chapter in a novel she wrote was dedicated to the tradition she had grown up with. She wrote editorials calling for Thanksgiving to be a National Holiday. She wrote letters to every governor and every President. Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national Holiday just one week after Hale wrote one her letters to the President…

Once the proclamation was made, Hale started sharing recipes and she’s credited with being one who made Turkey and Pumpkin Pie customary Thanksgiving dishes…

It’s one thing to know what happened, it’s another to understand why.

After telling us about the moment when he became convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, John tells us about Jesus appearance to Mary Magdalene and then to the disciples gathered in the upper room on two occasions.  Once in Thomas’ absence and once with Thomas present.

I want you to notice something about these encounters.

v. 19 Jesus appears to the disciples and says “Peace be unto you.”

v. 21 Jesus says again, “peace be unto you.”

v. 26 Jesus appears to them the 2nd time and says “Peace be unto you.”

“Peace be unto you”

This would have been the phrase that Jews often greeted one another with. Most likely Jesus greeted the disciples with this phrase often, however John records each of these. I think looking back on it, John understood the gravity of these words in the aftermath of the resurrection.

The Jewish word for Peace is “shalom” and even to this day Jews will greet one another with “Shalom, aleichem” which means peace be unto you. The correct customary response is “Aleichem, shalom.” Which means, upon you peace.

Shalom is more than an absence of conflict.

When we think of “peace” we think of an “absence of conflict.” Meaning that there is no war. That is appropriate, however the peace of shalom goes beyond the world peace that people often dream of and wish for, it means not just the absence of conflict but the presence of flourishing. It’s more than the absence of the bad, it’s the presence of the good in its place.

In the old testament there are times that Shalom refers to a stone wall, like those that would be built around the cities or around courtyards, and this was referred to a stone wall that had no cracks or missing or crumbling stones. It was not only absent any defect, it provided a sense of security and safety. It’s a sense of completeness or wholeness.

In fact, the verb tense of shalom means to restore to wholeness. If you broke something, to bring shalom was to make it right. This could be not only to an item, but also to a relationship. So, when Isaiah prophesied about a baby who would be born, the Messiah, the King of Kings he said:

Isaiah 9:6  For to us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Or, prince of “Shalom.” Then when Jesus is born, Angels appear unto shepherds and sing, Glory to God in the highest, on earth, PEACE or Shalom!

In Jesus’ final discourse with the disciples he says to them,

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid. 

Jesus made peace possible.

It’s for this reason that Paul would write in his letters that Jesus made peace or shalom between God and man. He said this in several places, but perhaps the most clear for us is in:

Colossians 1:20-21

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

So now, Jesus shows up before the disciples. Resurrected from the dead. He’s still got the nail holes in his hands and the wound from the spear in his side, but he’s there and he’s alive, and he’s eating some food, and he’s embracing them… And he keeps saying, Peace be unto you.

When Jesus came and was born, He was saying, Peace be unto you. Then, when He preached His gospel, He was saying, Peace be unto you! Even when He died on the cross, Jesus was saying Peace be unto you.

Conclusion:

Jesus came to bring wholeness. Completeness. Restoration.  If your life is like a wall that’s crumbling and missing a few blocks, he came to rebuild the wall of your life. He not only came to remove the war within your heart, He came to replace it with contentment, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness… He came to say, Peace be unto you.

We often say, have a good day! And it’s meaningless. Jesus said, Peace be on you, and He made it possible.

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