Easter Gifts from Our Risen Lord
By: LCMS NJ District President Dr. Tony Steinbronn
+. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
+. The disciples were in need of many things on that Easter day:
+. they still thought it was Friday and that the tomb contained the dead body of Jesus
+. they were discouraged, frightened, and anxious about what might happen to them now that Jesus was dead
+. of all the things that Jesus could have given to His disciples that day, He chose to give them three gifts
+. so that they might know that they had peace with God, Jesus said: Peace be with you!
+. then He gave them a purpose for their lives: As the Father has sent Me, so do I send you!
+. after He had given them peace and purpose, He assured them of His presence: Receive the Holy Spirit!
+. what is peace?
+. back in the 1960s, many people would “flash the peace sign” as a way of sharing their hope that one day the Vietnam War would end…and that all wars would cease
+. that certainly is one of our ongoing petitions in life, that there be peaceful relations among the nations
+. Jesus came to bring a greater kind of peace
+. the great separation is not between people and nations…it is between God and humankind
+. this separation causes people to be anxious about many things since they do not know the true God – that is, what is in His heart and what is His orientation and will toward them -- consequently, they are…anxious about food and clothing…anxious about the future…anxious about the world being out of control…anxious about their lives being out of the control
+. the disciples were anxious about their future that day
+. their Master was dead and they might be next
+. if Jesus was their Hope, and now their Hope was dead, what kind of Hope did they have now?
+. into their darkness and despair, Jesus came to them and said: Peace be to you!
+. so that you might know that you are forgiven, and that you are loved, look at My hands and my side…
+. Paul describes the fruit of Jesus death and resurrection in this way…
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us…since, therefore, we are now justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God…for if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.
+. Jesus does not just give us peace, but He also gives us a purpose for living: As the Father sent Me, so do I send you!
+. just as certainly as Jesus was sent into the world by the Father, so He sends each of us into the world to share His peace with other people
+. we have the great privilege of making known what Jesus Christ has done for their salvation…that they have peace with God and that they do not have to live in the fear of death any longer – since, for many people, one of their great fears is the fear of death
Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
+. one of my favorite evangelism stories is this one about D. L. Moody, fruitful evangelist and preacher
D. L. Moody was walking down a Chicago street one day and he saw a man learning against a lamppost. The evangelist gently put his hand on the man’s shoulder and asked him if he was a Christian.
The fellow raised his fist and angrily shouted: “Mind your own business!”
“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you,” said Moody, “but to be very honest, that is my business!”
+. you cannot have peace and purpose without His presence
+. so Jesus breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit!
+. soon Jesus would return to the Father and He wanted His presence to remain with His disciples, for He would not leave them as orphans in this world (John 14:18) and He would be with them to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20)
These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you…but the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you…peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you…let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
+. we pray:
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still if Thou abide with me!
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord abide with me. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.