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“My Peace I Give You!”
John 14:27


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
The Day of Pentecost—May 23, 2010

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

In today’s Gospel Reading from the 14th chapter of John, Jesus promises: “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.”

In September, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich, Germany and signed an appeasement pact with Hitler.  When Chamberlain arrived back in Britain, he solemnly announced at the airport that he had achieved “peace in our time.”  But, in less than a year, Britain and Germany were at all-out war.  Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” was a phony.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”  The “peace” of Chamberlain and Hitler was phony and lasted less than a year, but the peace of Jesus Christ is real and endures forever.  For, he has set you at peace with God.  And because you have peace with God, you also have peace with others, peace within your family, peace with yourself.

The root cause of all conflict and strife is sin.  In Ephesians, Paul describes sin as “the dividing wall of hostility.”  Like an impenetrable barrier, sin separated us from God, and from one another.   But, Jesus came to destroy the root cause of our conflict and strife.  As Paul says in Ephesians, “For he himself is our peace, who has . . . destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

A few moments ago in the Gloria in Excelsis we sang about the peace which Christ brings that the angels proclaimed at his birth, “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  Paul puts it this way in Colossians: “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

The dictionary defines peace as a “cessation of hostilities.”  In his heart, God feels toward you absolutely no hostility, no anger, no wrath.  All that has ceased on account of Christ.  As Paul says in Ephesians, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace.”  One of our Communion hymns puts it beautifully: “All our debt Thou hast paid, peace with God once more is made.”

Because God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death for you; because he shed his blood on the cross for you; because on the third day he rose again from the dead for you; because he paid all your debt to God for you; you and God are truly at peace.  In his heart God has for you only love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness.  As Paul says in Romans: “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“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.”  Because you have peace with God, in your life you can also have peace with others, peace within your family, peace with yourself.

The theme of peace toward your fellow man is a recurring them in the New Testament.  Paul says in Titus, “Remind the people . . . to be peaceable and considerate . . . toward all men.”  And in 1st Thessalonians, “Live at peace with each other.”  And in Colossians, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”  And in 1st Corinthians, “God has called us to live in peace.”

Peace with God leads you to be at peace with others.  Peace with others means the cessation of hostilities toward your fellow man.  As Paul commands us in Colossians, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger . . .  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  That is the key to ceasing hostilities, the key to living at peace with others in your daily life: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Do you have hostility in your heart?  Who are you holding a grudge against?  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger  . . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

“God has called us to live in peace.”  Peace with God, peace with others, peace within your family.  As Paul says in Ephesians and Colossians, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. . .  and the wife must respect her husband. . .  Fathers, do not embitter your children. . . Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

In your home, cease hostilities.  Live in peace, live in love. As Paul says in the famous love chapter, 1st Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind. . . It is not rude, it is not selfish, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. . .  Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

When hostilities shatter the peace of your home, remember the life-long promise of love you made in your wedding vows: “To have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish; til death do us part.”

Hebrews says, “Make every effort to live in peace.”  Peace with God, peace with others, peace within your family, peace with yourself. 

The greatest cause of mental distress is what psychology calls low self-esteem.  A feeling that you are not worthwhile, you are not important, you are not loved.  Dean Martin had a song that put it this way, “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”  Is that how you feel sometimes, nobody, because you think nobody loves you?

John says, “This is how God showed his love for us: He sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we would live through him.”  The remedy for low self-esteem is high Christ-esteem.  Christ esteemed you so highly that he gave his life for you.  As Paul says in Ephesians, “He loved us and gave himself up for us.”  “Greater love has no man than this,” Jesus says, “that he lay down his life for his friends.”  You have a high Christ-esteem, for you are loved, you are important, you are worth so much that Christ laid down his life for you.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” 

Peace with God: “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Peace with others: “Remind the people . . . to be peaceable and considerate . . . toward all men.”

Peace within your family: “Make every effort to live in peace.”

Peace with yourself: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

“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.”

Christ has truly brought us “peace in our time.”  The truce in your life begins today.  Cease hostilities, against others, within your family, within yourself.  Paul puts it this way at the end of 2nd Thessalonians, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”

Amen.

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