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In Christ Alone [4-4-21 8:30am]

April 4, 2021 {8:30 AM}

"In Christ Alone"

Here's the gospel:

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.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

- John 20:19-23

We are going to look at the first time Jesus appears to his frightened followers and disciples. I hope that by the time we're done, we'll have a clearer understanding of how the risen Jesus acted and why the risen Jesus said what he said.

His first appearance happens in John 20:19-23. Specifically, John 20:19 tells us how he acts:

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.”

Here's the context. This is the evening of the Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead. In our vernacular, it's Easter night. That morning, Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene. About twelve hours later, he appears to all 11 disciples. Notice three things:

  • The doors are locked.

  • The disciples are frightened.

  • And Jesus comes and stands in their midst.

Based on these three details, there are three things we can learn about how Risen Christ deals with us today. Let's look at them one at a time.

1. The Doors Were Locked

Jesus didn't have to knock. He didn't even have to open the door. He was

simply there. And he wasn't a ghost or a spirit or an apparition. Here's verse 20 again:

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

Why do you think he did that? Luke 24:39 puts it this way:

See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.

Jesus has a physical body, but different from ours. He simply arrived, in spite of closed doors. This was purposeful and intentional.

Here's how this simple detail impacts us today. Jesus can go where no one else can. He can go where no therapist can go. He can go where no doctor can go. He can go where no significant other can go. Jesus can reach you when you are out of reach to anyone else. Jesus can touch your life anytime, anywhere. Think of it this way:


The resurrection of Jesus Christ allows him to do what no one else can.

He is incomparable and unmatchable in all the universe. Jesus is the resurrected Savior. Jesus is God-in-the-Flesh who saved us from sin and death. We cannot begin to understand all that Jesus can do. That's why Paul, in 1 Corinthians, says we see as in a mirror dimly. And it is comforting and encouraging to know that there is no layer of your life that Jesus doesn't understand.

The second detail we learn is that:

2. Jesus' Friends and Followers Were Afraid

Again, verse 19:

The doors being locked where the disciples were for fear.

Their leader had just been crucified as a threat to religious and political leaders. All very good reasons to be afraid. And Jesus steps into that fear.

Remember, we are never without Jesus. Into what fears of yours does the Risen, living Jesus enter into? Fear of the unexpected? Fear for your children? Fear for your health? We certainly had a lot of fear over that this past year. It extended even to a fear of death. Somebody recently said to me it felt like we were living in a Fear Factory. Fear that we won't die well. Fear that we might drift into caring too much about things of this world. Or fear that we won't use our lives to their full potential of service to God.

As a side note…a personal side note: Have you ever read something that articulated a thought or belief you've had that perfectly captures what you've struggled to put words to? That happened to me last week. I wish I could be this clever by half. Christian leader Scottie Crawford observed:

Here are my ministry goals. Preach the gospel. Die. Be forgotten. It is about His glory. Not mine.

Here's what Jesus is saying on that first Easter night. He comes to his own when they are afraid. He doesn't wait for them to get their act together. He doesn't wait for them to have enough faith to overcome fear. Jesus Christ gives us enough faith to overcome fear.

How many times have you cried out, "Jesus, please help me." When you do, he comes to you with the promise:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

- Isaiah 41:10

Jesus will do this for you, if you receive him into your life for who he really is.

The third detail we learn is that:

3. Jesus Comes to Them and Stands in Their Midst

Verse 19 tells us that the doors were locked because they were afraid. The point here is that Jesus came right into the middle of their meeting. Jesus didn't stand out in the street and call out to them. He didn't deal with them as some distant deity. He wanted them to see him and know him and believe in him and love him.

That's what Jesus wants for you today. We all want to experience the living Jesus. We want to know him…to have him draw near to us as no one else can. We want him to help us in our fear as no one else can. We want Jesus to come close to us, not calling us from a distance, but coming right into the midst of us. That's the promise of Easter.

So, as Jesus stands in the midst of his disciples and followers, what does he say?

First, Jesus says, "Peace be with you." He says that two times. Before Jesus says anything else - remember, this is his first resurrection appearance to his followers- before Jesus says anything he wants to establish peace. Before anything else, they need peace with Jesus. And it shouldn't be lost on us who initiates that peace. We don't initiate peace with Jesus by our actions. He initiates peace with us. Here's how Paul put it in Ephesians 2:14-18:

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

So, what kind of peace does Jesus bring? He shows them with a visual. After he says, "Peace be with you," he shows them his hands and side. In other words, his peace is that the wrath of God has been turned away by his death on the cross. Here's something you might want to write down:

All the hostility between God and us was absorbed on the cross.

So, what does that mean for our lives? Here are five places where peace comes into our lives.

First, and most obviously and importantly, there is peace between us and the Risen Christ. He's standing among his disciples offering himself as a helper and friend, not a judge.

Second, peace between us and God. That's why God sent Jesus…so God's justice and wrath could be satisfied in way where we wouldn't suffer eternal punishment. Amazing love, how sweet the sound…God makes peace with us by substituting His Son's suffering for our penalty. He is our loving Father.

Third, peace between us and others who are in Christ. Think of it this way. To be reconciled to God vertically is to be reconciled with other believers horizontally. As Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:28, in Jesus Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Fourth, peace between us and our own souls. Hebrews 9:14 says, "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." How many people are burdened by the weight of a guilty conscience? I recently read about a woman, who is now a follower of Jesus Christ, who cannot shake the guilt over an abortion she had when she was younger. But that is what Good Friday is all about.

Peace with yourself doesn't mean that past sins are no longer hurtful or

painful. It simply means they are no longer paralyzing. While the pain may linger, the penalty is gone. That is true healing.

Fifth, peace with the world. Colossians 1:19-20 sets up the point:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The day will come, in God's time, when all evil will be cast into outer darkness and the entire world will become a new creation, filled with peace and righteousness.

Jesus stands in the midst of his disciples and friends. He says, "Peace be with you." In that moment, because of the cross and the resurrection, we have:

  • Peace with Jesus.

  • Peace with God.

  • Peace with brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Peace with ourselves.

  • Peace with the world.

Amazing love, how can it be…

So, here we are. Jesus stands in the midst of us, offering us the same peace. Whether you are worshiping online or are here in person, you know that most people aren't doing this on Easter morning. Everybody doesn't have this peace from God. It's a gift, but we have to receive it. Some choose to walk away from it. But like the disciples, here we are. Jesus is with us. If you have embraced his presence, then you have the peace that he gives. In fact, a better way to put it is you have the peace that he is. As Paul writes in Romans 5:1:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus offers you that.

Will you be reconciled to God? In Jesus Christ, will you receive the free gift of his peace in all areas of your life?


To the Glory of God Alone!

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