Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
The Peace He gives to us
The Apostle John is the one who tells us. On a Sunday evening, two days after the death and burial of our Lord Jesus, His disciples were gathered behind locked doors, fearful and frustrated, wondering what to do with the rumours they had heard about strange things happening at the tomb where their Master had been buried, as if He had risen, and Him having appeared to some of them, and some of the other people they knew.
And then, suddenly, He stood among them. “Peace with you!” He said, and as He said that, He showed them His hands and side, with the wounds from His sufferings, and from the spear that had made sure that He really was dead.
With the way John tells it, he points to this event as the beginning of Christian worship. He makes this point even clearer, when he describes how they were gathered again the following Sunday, and the risen Lord Jesus came to them again, and said the same thing, and did the same thing – as if a pattern had been established – as, indeed, it had.
For this is what Christian worship is: the risen Christ coming to His Christians and declaring His peace to be upon us, and showing us what kind of peace it is that is His peace, and what His salvation is.
He does this through the men He has set to proclaim His salvation to the world, and to His Church. He said it of His Apostles, on that night, and of the men who would succeed them in the ministry: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” - namely, for the salvation of sinners through the forgiveness of sins. For this purpose He Himself will work in His Church, through His appointed servants. As He also said it of them, in that night: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The peace He gives to His Christians is peace with God, through the forgiveness for our sins, won for us with His sufferings and death. This is what He showed when He came to His disciples and pronounced His peace to be upon them, and, while saying that, showed them His hands and side with the wounds from His suffering and His death.
In His sufferings and death He has borne the wrath and judgement of God against our sin, His righteous wrath against our ungodliness, His holy hatred against all evil.
And so there is peace between God and us. All wrath and enmity is dealt with and done away with.
And He comes to His Christians to give to us the peace He has won for us. That is the life and worship of His Church. His Christians might be fearful and frustrated, wondering what to do with the rumours that it is not true, all that which the Church has always believed, and with doubts and disobedience in our own hearts, and in our lives.
And He Himself comes to us, in His Word and worship, and declares His peace to be upon us. His Church speaks and sings of His love, and what His love has done for our salvation. His appointed servants proclaim and explain His salvation, and announce His salvation to be ours, and His peace to be upon us. And when this is what His appointed servants speak, He Himself speaks through them, and it is true what they say, and it is given to us, as we hear it. Again, as He Himself has said it of the men He sets to preach and teach in His Church: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The life of His Church is life with Him, as He Himself comes to us and presents us with the peace He has won for us, and gives it to us.
And His peace is peace with God, and forgiveness for all sin, so that we shall suffer and perish forever in Hell, but live and be with Him in His heavenly Kingdom and His eternal life.
He promises His peace to us, with His Word, and gives His peace to us, with His promise, so that it is ours, and we really have peace with God. And He gives us peace at heart, as He assures us of His peace, with His promise, and when He reminds us of the terrible price He has paid to promise His peace to us. More than that, with His living Word of love He pours out His love in our hearts, with His Holy Spirit, and His life, so that His love is alive in us and assures us of His love.
And then we can have peace. For then we can know that we are right with God. He Himself gives us His assurance. And when we are right with God, then all is well.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem