19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20)
“O, my, dear child, what am I going to do with you?”
Dear newly made child of God, Blair, if your mom hasn’t said this to you yet, I’m confident she’ll say it to you soon.
Dearly newly baptized Maddex and Jaslyn, if your mom hasn’t said this to you yet, I’m sure it’ll be said to you soon.
When you make a mess of things, when you keep disobeying, when you refuse to listen, “What am I going to do with you?”
That is probably the question the disciples expect when Risen Jesus shows up that evening He was raised from the dead. “O dear disciples, what am I going to do with you?”
You’re fearful? You doubted my Word? You abandoned me and denied me? You’re hiding because you’re scared of what the world might do to you? What am I going to do with you?”
And it is the question you should have right now as the Risen, Ascended and Invisible Christ stands in your midst today.
“What is the Risen Son of God going to do with me?”
Be angry? I deserve it!
Condemn me for all of my doubts in His Word? I’ll get what’s coming to me!
Destroy me because I fear so many more things than Him? That would be just!
Imagine what it would be like if the Risen Christ did not actually speak.
19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them… and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Only after Jesus speaks, “Peace with you” are they glad to see the Lord Jesus.
“Peace with you.”
God is at peace with you. Every part of you. God wouldn’t be at peace if your sins were still bound to you. Your doubts and fears would be enough to make you unholy and then you would have to be condemned.
But Jesus has borne all your sins, all your doubts and fears included, to the cross – paid the price for them. They’re gone and you’re redeemed, you’re His – “Peace with you.”
Whatever else is going on in your life, you can be confident that the Risen Christ says, “Peace be with you.”
What does Jesus do with children who are by nature sinful and unclean? He baptizes them! Forgives their sin, makes them His brother and sister, begins a life of repentance and faith in them through the Holy Spirit.
What does Jesus do with those who have forsaken their baptismal promises? He seeks them and calls them to Himself again and again. “Come back to me. This family is where you belong!”
What does Jesus do with us all – so full of fears and doubts – “Peace with you. Here’s my hands. Here’s my side. Here’s my Word. Here’s my body to eat. Here’s my blood to drink, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Blessed are you who have not seen, yet believe. Do not disbelieve, but believe. Peace with you.”
And how does He deliver this to you? He gives you a faithful pastor. He gives you a faithful Church. He gives you His Christians.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20)
Jesus was sent to die for sins so that He could forgive sinners and then Jesus sends His Church, beginning with the apostles and winding all the way down to me as a called and ordained and us all as baptized Christians to announce this forgiveness won by Him.
So, dear saints, what would Jesus say to you if you came to me or any other faithful Christian and confessed some sins that particularly were bothering you – sins in the past the devil won’t let you forget, sins that keep creeping or storming in uninvited or too often invited, fears and doubts that you can’t seem to shake?
I can only answer what I have promised to say, because I promised to God and to you nearly 5 years at my ordination into the Holy Ministry and Installation and Mount Calvary and Abundant Life that this is what I would say.
“Peace with you. Your sins are forgiven. Jesus has placed me here and God and you have called me here so that you might be reminded again and again, despite your sin, despite your fear and doubts and suffering in this life, God is at peace with you.”
One of the reasons we don’t often confess out loud our sins with pastors or other Christians is fear of this reaction:
“What? What am I going to do with you? Are you kidding me? Again? Come on! Snap out of it!”
“What? Well, that’s a new one! I didn’t know you did that!”
And if we’re not careful, we as sinful Christian might react like that to fellow brothers and sisters. It seems to be the most natural way to react to confession – to condemn someone more.
But one pastor has told me that my goal for those who come burdened and guilty and full of shame should be for me to leave them laughing. If another Christian confesses their sins to you, your goal should be the same.
That’s the gift Jesus gave His disciples – Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
You don’t have to wonder what Jesus is going to do with you. He tells you today. He desires for you to keep coming back here and receive it again and again because the fears, the doubts, the other sins, and all the troubles keep coming back, too.
So, dear newly Baptized Blair, Maddex, and Jaslyn, dear baptized children of God young and old, you’ll need to hear this over and over again.
The Risen Christ says, “Peace be with you.” Amen.