Peninsula Community Church
Jesus Came to Bring Peace
April 2, 2017
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
This week I was watching Fox News and they reported on a new app available to people who have annoying coworkers. You know the kind who interrupt us with stories that waste our time and cause us to be annoyed because we cannot get any work done. The APP is called Nope. You download it to your PC and when of these annoying people come around you, you simply click on the icon and it will call your phone with a message and commands to follow which makes it sound like it is an important call. The goal is to bring peace to your surroundings. Don’t you wish real peace was that easy. Just click an icon and peace would be ours.
As we look at this passage, we see three key benefits of following Christ. First, we have peace with God through Jesus. Secondly, through Him we have obtained access by faith into His grace. Thirdly, we endure the difficulties of life because of the hope we have that has been produced by His love. What a powerful foursome of God’s blessing: peace, grace, hope, and love.
While all of these are critical, this morning I would like to focus primarily on the concept of peace. I am sure you have seen the bumper sticker that says “No Jesus, No peace; Know Jesus, Know peace.” The idea presented here is that without Christ we cannot know real peace. That is a true statement but too often we attempt to gain peace without Christ. Without argument that is definitely an impossibility. From the time of the Garden of Eden until now, mankind has sought to gain peace in so many ways. The problem is that too often these ways of finding peace leave us empty and desiring more of peace.
The reason for this is that too often we have a faulty view or understanding of peace. Therefore, to understand real peace we begin with the most noted word in the Hebrew for peace. The word is “shalom” which can mean “peace” but it also can mean “completeness,” “soundness,” “welfare,” “tranquility,” “contentment,” and “friendship.” More directly, the word shalom refers to peace with God through a covenant relationship. The covenant relationship has been established by God and has been fulfilled in us by the work of the cross and our acceptance of Jesus as the master of all peace.
Here is the reality of peace for the Jewish people and it should therefore be a reality for us. Peace means more than a cessation of hostility and bad circumstances. The Jews of Jesus day had unfortunately made peace all about freedom from the oppression of Roman domination. This was so far from God’s intent for peace and yet it is for that reason that Jesus made a statement that has baffled some. In Matthew 10:34-35 Jesus stated Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
What Jesus was saying is that the Jew’s definition of peace was off and incorrect. You see peace is not about a cessation of hostility or problems, even though the Jews believed this was the case. You see rather than bringing outward or earthly peace, Jesus was in fact the lighting of rod of dissension, trouble, and division. This reaction to Jesus was a result of the motivation of those around Him and the rejection of His message. The bottom line was that just because of who He was and what He stood for, He would cause people to react with hostility and rejection. He would, in fact, be the source of more unrest and unsettledness than already existed.
If we are not careful we can also miss the power and purpose of Christ’s mission. If read between the lines we find that Jesus was communicating that He was not interested in setting up a Kingdom in Jerusalem. He was, however, very interested in setting up a kingdom in our hearts where He would reign supreme and peace would be evidenced within us regardless of the circumstances and problems around us.
A classic example of this is found in the New Testament. In Mark 4:35-41 Mark relates a story about focusing on the problems more than on Jesus and the peace He brings. On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Notice a couple of things about Mark’s story. First, Jesus had said to them that they were to go to the other side by boat. This was God’s will for them. He was going with them to the other side of the lake. They would make it to the other side. The second thing that happened is that a storm arose and began to rock the boat. They were afraid and called out to Christ who was sleeping in the stern of the boat. He was at peace because He knew they would make it to the other side. His disciples on the other hand were not at peace. Notice Jesus’ word to them. “Where is your faith?”
It is almost like Jesus is saying “look I am in the boat with you. Do you think I will honestly let something happen to you?” With Jesus on board the odds were good that they would make it to the other side. You see, I believe the problem was that they had their eyes more on the storm than they did on Jesus. Too often we get caught up in the problems and the cares of life to the point that we get our eyes off of Jesus. When we get our eyes off of Jesus, we loose our peace because our focus is driven by the problem and not by the one who can resolve the problem.
Remember when Peter got out of the boat to walk on the water (Matthew 14:28-31). Remember that he takes several steps toward Jesus. He was doing what no other human being had done before or since. Peter was walking on water. There were no stones under his feet There was no bridge. There was no trick photography or magical illusion happening. He was walking on water. He was doing the impossible. Imagine the picture with me. Peter is doing so well but then He looks down and sees the waves lapping at his feet and in he falls.
Why does this happen? It is because he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to look at the waves which brought fear and anxiety to his heart. Imagine this, if Peter not taken his eyes off of Jesus he would have walked all of the way to Jesus and back but he became distracted and fell into the water. The amazing thing is that Jesus did not push Peter down or leave him to his own devices. Jesus reached down and picked Peter up. That is the power of Christ’s peace is us. When we become aware that we are living out life by our own means and we get our eyes on the circumstances around us, we fall short of God’s glory but He Jesus does not condemn us. He reaches down as far as He has to to pick us and restores our peace.
That is why Paul wrote the words he did in Romans 5. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. We attempt to maneuver through life on our own and when the waves of difficulty come we are are captivated by the problem rather than by Jesus. The reality is however is that He reaches down to us wherever we are and he lifts us up because He has given us His grace to stand and stand tall. The winds may blow and the waves of difficulty may be lapping at our feet but we can remain focused on Jesus. In so doing, we can make it through every difficulty. We can arrive at the moment in our life where we can actually rejoice in the difficulties we face because we are walking in His peace and in His grace. We walk in the unmerited, undeserved, unwarranted gift of God, His grace which brings peace.
How does this all happen? What is the basis of this reality for us? It is that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. It is the love of God that motivates us and constrains us toward a life of peace and one that is full of grace. As we focus on the Lord’s Table today, I am moved by the fact that God’s work through His son has brought us peace. This peace is a result of Him bringing us forgiveness of past sin, present sin, and all future sin. Through that forgiveness, we receive His peace which sustains us no matter what we go through.
Why? Andy Stanley states that we receive the peace of God so that we might be at peace with God. Peace with God paves the way to peace with ourselves and equips us to make peace with others. The bottom line is this. He wants us to focus on Him more than we do our problems. He wants us to understand that when we walk in peace, we walk in completeness and wholeness. Peace is possible and peace can be a reality in our lives.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom