PEACE TO YOU
An Easter Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinApril 3, 1994
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ (Jn 20:19)
The disciples were in deep confusion and great fear. They were in fear because the Lord was dead. The Lord’s enemies were searching for them and they were afraid for their lives. The disciples were convinced that the Lord was indeed sent from God, that He was the Promised One, yet He was killed. They were mystified why the Lord, with such great powers, would allow Himself to be arrested and eventually killed, without any form of resistance. Now they did not know what happened to His body and they were hearing strange reports of events that happened at the tomb. The disciples were in deep despair and disillusionment.
While they were in hiding the Lord suddenly appeared to them. Without warning, they saw the Lord standing before them. It was then that the Lord spoke the words of our text, “Peace be with you”.
The Greek word for peace has the idea of unity, security, and being at rest. This was a direct contrast to what the disciples were in after the Lord’s crucifixion. They were in disarray, felt vulnerable, and had great concern about their future. Yet, the presence of the Lord assured them that He was still with them. The Lord’s appearance helped unite them together, they felt protected by the Lord, even under very trying circumstances, and they had the assurance that the Lord would bless their ministry.
The Lord is the source of all true peace. We are in the peace that the Lord gives when we are conjoined with Him. There are three basic components that make up the peace that we have from the Lord. First, we have protection from the infestations of the evil spirits from the hells; secondly, we have the ability to delight in what is good because it is good; and thirdly, we are content with what the Lord has given to us.
First, we are protected from being overwhelmed by the evil delights and false excuses when we are conjoined with the Lord. In heaven, this is literally the case. No evil spirit can ever approach any angel in heaven. We on the earth have the same protection. Yes, we can still be hurt, and we can be tempted to do wrong things. But there can be a steady confidence within us that we are safe in the Lord’s hands and His providence can bring order even out of our most troubling situations. There can be many things that will disturb us greatly, but they will never be strong enough to destroy our confidence in the Lord’s power or His government. When we have a steadfast faith in the Lord and a genuine commitment to do His will, we will sense the Lord’s constant presence with us, despite the troubles that may surround us.
Secondly, we are in heavenly peace when we have the ability to delight in that which is good. This is not a selfish delight that is primarily concerned with our own advantage. Rather, we enjoy the good that is being done for the benefits that it gives towards others and the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom. Only from the Lord are we able to sincerely delight in good things. The more we are able to find joy and satisfaction in what is good because it is good, the more we find satisfaction in what we are given, and in our individual calling.
Finally, when we enjoy the peace that is from the Lord, we will be content with what we have. It is easy to see that if one is content, one is at rest. If we enjoy the things that we do possess, and not occupy our minds on what we do not have, The more comfortable we will be. The Lord alone is able to give us the ability to be content with what we have and not be frustrated or jealous of what we do not have.
Furthermore, when we are content, the Writings teach that we have the ability to rise our thoughts above merely natural things. Contentment allows us to consider everything around us from a spiritual perspective. We are more likely to consider the impact of how our actions will effect others. If we are not content, the more we are likely to do things that will only please ourselves, regardless of impact it will have upon the well being of others. The more our judgments are based upon a deeper level than just what we perceive with our physical senses, the more we will find satisfaction with what is given to us.
The peace that the world offers only gives ecstasy to the senses. Heavenly peace is able to give satisfaction to the mind. If all we are concerned about is pleasure, than we will only be happy if our external appetites are being satisfied. But if we are content in our internals, by finding joy in our use, we can have a proper perspective that can give satisfaction even when our senses are not in a state of euphoria.
Obviously, when we are in peace, we are in joy. It stimulates and excites an affection for that which is good. In fact, the Writings teach that the joy we feel is from the Divine of the Lord flowing into our affection of good. When we truly love what is good simply because it is good, that love is a receptacle for the Lord to flow into and stimulate us.
And when the Lord flows in, He is joyful because He can make us happy from His Divinity and lead us to enjoy the delights of His heavenly kingdom forever. What is fascinating, is that we can perceive the Lord’s joy by the peace we sense when we find sincere delight in what is good. The peace we are enjoying is the Lord’s joy of being conjoined with us. (HH 286) We are sensing the Lord’s happiness in giving us eternal life.
What makes heavenly peace possible for us to enjoy is to simply remove the corruptions that are attached to our lives. We must shun that which opposes the Lord’s teachings in His Word. We enjoy heavenly peace to the degree we are willing to remove all the obstacles that violate the teachings from the Word. This involves temptations. We must go through the trials and the despairs of temptations to be able to have angelic peace active within us. It is only by temptations that the evil desires and their false justifications are loosened and break away from us. And as they are removed, the Lord will present Himself and give us the peace that is directly from Himself.
The Lord’s resurrection, which we are celebrating today, gives us the opportunity to remove our personal evil loves from our lives. Without the Lord’s resurrection, we would be hopelessly doomed in just living a life of selfish pleasures and of seeking to have dominion over everyone around us. It would be impossible for us to be effected by heavenly loves and to appreciate the peace that the angels in heaven enjoy.
The Lord made it possible for us to be in the heavenly peace by coming to the earth. When He came to the earth, He put on a human nature from Mary, which made Him susceptible to attacks from the evil spirits in hell. The human nature the Lord assumed, allowed Him to be tempted. He never succumbed to any temptation that He was under. He was able to conquer each one. Each time He had a victory over the hells in temptation, He put them more into true order, or into their proper place so they could no longer prevent good people from looking to the Lord and receiving His guidance in their lives. Now we are able to escape from the oppression of the hells from having dominion over us. And as the Lord glorified His human by uniting it with the Divine, He was no longer vulnerable to the attacks from the hells, and He gradually became the visible God that we now worship. We worship God by worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ as the one God of heaven and earth. The Divinity of God is now revealed through the Human which He glorified while He was on the earth. This is what the Lord meant when He once said, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Mt. 11:27)
The Lord is called the Prince of Peace because He is the source of all the tranquility that can satisfy our minds and give us inner peace and contentment. By His Resurrection, He achieved the final victory over the hells and made it possible for us to obtain the peace that allows the angels to enjoy that which is good. For us to take advantage of what the Lord has made possible by His resurrection, we must simply refuse to indulge in practices that are opposed to the teachings of His Word. As we do this, the Lord will replace a selfish heart with a love that will delight in worshipping the Lord and of being of service to our fellow man. This love will give us an inner peace, which is what every person longs for. Regardless of the circumstances that can disturb our external affairs, we can have an inner rest and security. We can know that we are under the Lord’s protection and have the confidence that He knows our troubles and will give us the strength and the wisdom to help resolve the situation. Being in heavenly peace will not make all our problems go away. But it will give us the assurance that the Lord is in control of the situation. Furthermore, heavenly peace will prevent our problems from having dominion over us. We will always be able to delight in our use despite the heartaches that we are called upon to face. This is the joy of Easter. The peace that is directly from the Lord is available to every person of His creation. And within this peace is the perceived assurance that no evil will have the final victory. This the Lord promises, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn 14:27)