The beginning of a new school year isn't a very peaceful time.
For kids, it means new teachers. New friends. A new class schedule. New classes. New people who like them. New people who don't like them.
They think, “Will I know everything I need to know? Will I remember everything I need to remember? If I don't will the kids make fun of me? Will they refuse to be my friend? Will the teachers like me? Will I like my teachers?”
After the first day, they come home, slouch in an easy chair and sigh, “I wish it was still summer vacation.”
But it's not so easy for parents either. “Do I have all the school supplies I need? Do I have enough money for all the school supplies I need? Will I like my child's teacher? Will kids be nice to my child? Will he do well in school? Will I need to help him with homework? Will I remember everything I need to know for my homework? UGH!” With a sigh, the parent slouches into the easy chair next to her child, “I wish it was still summer vacation.”
Whether you are embarking on a new school year or you are in the midst of one, school can be hectic! How will you combat this? How will you defeat the 'busy'-ness of your day to day schedule? How will you find peace amidst the fears that school brings?
Today Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”
Why We Need Peace.
I bet it was supposed to be a pretty peaceful night.
The Passover meal was a time for celebration. A time to eat good food. A time to reflect on God’s love. A time to share with family and friends.
The disciples were prepared for just that. The food was ready. All their friends were their. Their Lord, Jesus Christ was there.
The night was supposed to be peaceful!
But then, Jesus spoke.
He accused Judas of a plot to betray him, causing their friend to leave in a huff. (Jn. 13:26-28) He predicted they would all abandon him. (Mk. 14:27) He told Peter that he would deny even knowing him. (Jn. 13:38) He said that he himself would leave them in only a little while. (Jn. 13::33) He would be killed by their enemies!
Talk about a change in the atmosphere of the night. The tension was palpable. I imagine hearts were beating fast. Sweat was forming on lips. Insides were clenching.
This night wasn’t remotely peaceful!
That’s when Jesus spoke again.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (Jn. 14:27)
How is your peace level? Do you ever feel just like those disciples? You want peace. You yearn for peace, but in today’s world, it just seems hard to find.
It’s easy to see why.
When I was growing up I was frightened of the monster under my bed. In my imagination, he had three bigs eyes, two horns, and extra sharp teeth. It’s why I couldn’t go under my bed. My mom figured it was because I didn’t want to clean under it.
Made up imaginary monsters are the least of our children’s worries! Our world is filled with terrors! People shoot one another. People bomb one another. People poison one another. People hate one another. And…it’s real In the airport, you need to have your shoes checked just in case someone is trying to explode the plane with your shoes. You must pass through the metal detector at school. You better be paying attention to your surroundings…whether you are at the mall, a movie theater, or a marathon!
Not to mention how scary our own personal lives can be! The fear of losing a job. The fear of losing a loved one. The fear of a relationship falling to pieces. The fear of no one loving you!
I haven’t even begun to mention the host of scary things that we never even think of! Like the Black Widow under your pillow. Or the copper head out on the playground. Or the devil. That no good rotten scoundrel whose only desire is to muck up your life with sin. Make things a mess. And, in his own disgusting, devious mind, treat you to an eternal life with him in the bowels of hell.
To be frank, this world is not a peaceful place!
Where then, do you turn to find peace?
To be fair there are alot of different places to turn for peace. God has given us a host of blessings. Friends. Chocolate cake. A good book. Peaceful gardens.
But how long does this kind of peace really last?
Consider our options.
First, we might turn to what I’ll call “abstractions.” That is things that aren’t so much real, but possibilities. Phrases like “I’ll be alright.” “It’s for the best” or “I’ll work it out.” These are nothing more than empty platitudes. Is cancer really going to be alright? Try telling that to the person who has gone through 3 years of chemotherapy? Are the angry words of hatred that your boss screamed at you really for the best? Will the terrorist battles really work themselves out?
The truth is: You don’t know that any of these things will happen. You don’t know that life will get better. It may not! If these words are all you have, they are empty!
That kind of peace isn’t real peace at all. It’s as phony as the monster under my bed!
Next, we may turn to neutral distractions. Things that keep us busy so that we don’t dwell on the scary things of this world. Being endlessly busy at work. Picking up a new hobby of wood working. Watching marathons of Iron Chef on the food channel.
But do these things solve the problem? Not at all. Because when work is done. When you’re tired of fishing. When you’ve reached the latest episode of Iron Chef, the scary things in life are still there.
So we turn to even more powerful distractions. Ones that literally alter the chemicals in our brains. The highs produced by drugs. The mind numbing ability of drunkenness. The thrill of “no strings attached” sex. The escape of internet pornography, internet gambling, and internet romances.
These things don’t make life more peaceful either. When the drug wears off. When your immoral partner leaves. When the internet connection goes out, your problems are still there!
Brothers and sisters, we’ve got it all wrong. The world is what is causing our fears in the first place! Why then would we turn to the world to heal our fears!?!
That's like trying to heal a snake bite by injecting a syringe full of venom!
Doesn't make much sense does it? Why turn to what has left us without peace to get peace?
Because the world cannot give us real peace. Not lasting peace. Whether it's sinful or not, it will not give us the peace of a purpose in life, sins forgiven, and the devil defeated!
We need to turn outside of this world.
III. The Right Place to Turn.
It was a dark night. A group of shepherd sat on a hill. Looking up at the stars, perhaps they were filled with wonder. Where is God? Who is God? What does he wants with me? Does he know all the wrong I have done? Does he care about how awful this world is getting? Does he want us to sit around in fear?
Who would’ve known that God would answer any of those questions that night!
From heavens, a supernatural being. An angel glowing with joy. “Do not be afraid. For I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!”
Then, this majestic being was joined by a host of other beings. A divine chorus rang out: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests.”
Did you hear that? Peace. Peace came to the world that night.
And peace didn’t come in theform of a victorious warrior. He wasn't a witty physician. He wasn't even an exotic dietician.
Peace was a baby.
This is Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace himself. He alone brings peace to a terror filled world. A world where nothing makes sense. Where terror fills of waking moment. He comes. He whispers. “I love you. I am there for you. I went to the cross for you and will never leave you.”
Certainly, he accomplishes this. For he was the one who brought us peace with the Almighty God of holiness. The Lord who hates our sin. Jesus appease him. He died on the cross and appeased God’s holy wrath. Literally, because Jesus died you have peace with God! He solved your problem of sin.
And talk about peace? This means we have peace in knowing that the devil cannot harm us. We have peace in knowing that Jesus is more powerful. We have peace in knowing that our sins will not be counted against us. We have peace in knowing that we will not enter the eternal fires of hell that we deserve, but into the peace filled courts of the prince of peace himself!
Brothers and sisters, think about that peace! There is no terrorist. No bad guy. No monster under the bed. No amount of awful thing on earth that can change this truth: Jesus loves you! He died for you! You are his! He will bring you home to heaven!
Think again about what Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you ; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
Because Jesus’ peace lasts forever. It does not end at the commercial break. It doesn’t wear off when the substance fades. It is always true.
What Jesus did for you cannot change!
And it deals with things that worldly peace cannot. He gives peace to the guilty conscience by actually, physically, erally suffering and dying on the cross as payment for our sins! He doesn’t just distract us or numb us. He literally takes care of the problem.
And he really, completely defeats that devil! He is of no threat to us now! Turn to him and shout your peace of mind! “I am saved through faith in Jesus!”
Where to Find Peace.
Brothers and sisters, crave this peace for yourselves. Give it to your children.
But where will I find him?
In the verse right before this, Jeuss explains where His peace comes from. He says, “When the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everyting I have said to you.”
In other words. He’ll remind you of the peace you have in me.
He reminded the disciples. The disciples wrote it down. Now through the disciples’ words, the Holy Spirit reminds us. He gives us peace as we learn God’s Word!
So give that gift to your children!
It’s a new school year. There are big changes for them. New teachers. New classes. New classmates. When you combine it with all the other troubles of this world, it can be a scary place.
Give them the gift of peace. Teach them about Jesus. Tell them a Bible story. Read them a devotion.
Need help? Bring your kid to Sunday School. We are starting Sunday School for PreK-Kindergarten, 1st-4th, and 5th-8th grade on September 8th at 9:30am. Don't miss it!
Then, come to Adult Sunday School. We're studying the same lessons so that you will be ready to answer questions your kids might have. We'll also learn practical suggestions for teaching them the lesson and incorporating it into your daily routine for the week.
And...you'll get some peace for yourself!
Sometimes, therapists will talk about your happy place. When the world gets scary, they say find a happy place. You might think about sitting on a beach, sipping a margarita and listening to the Beach Boys. Or maybe you'd think of sitting by your garden in a hammock while reading the latest Debbie MacComber book.
Would you ever consider your happy place to be a dark hill with a blood encrusted wooden cross upon it?
Brothers and sisters, this is our happy place! It is the place where Jesus died. It is the place where our sin was defeated. It was the place where we were guaranteed peace in this life and the next!
Peace not of this world. Otherworldly peace.
Prince of peace --- peace.