By Joel A. Hess –
A young pastor was enjoying a children’s message with a bunch of elementary kids (if you can’t handle pastors talking to little kids in the Divine Service, please exit). He asked the kids, “What do you think Jesus said when He rose from the dead?” One girl responded, “Tada!” Everyone laughed. Yes, that may be the real reason why people demand children’s sermons.
Of course, Jesus actually said, “PEACE be with you!” “Shalom, yo” or however you need to translate it to give you street cred. Peace! Peace! Peace! Of course, we say that all the time, “How ya doing?” But we really don’t mean it.
Jesus means it! He backs up His words with blood and an empty grave. His words do what they say as He breathes on them the breath of God, giving them the Holy Spirit. My breath just gives people an idea of what it would be like to mix coffee, beef jerky, and black jelly beans. Peace! Sins are forgiven. Peace! You will rise again from the dead!
We spend time and money ensuring peace in our lives—retirement, health/life insurance, college savings, etc. It will all fail us ultimately. Jesus gives us peace with a guarantee, and it’s free! You do not have to worry anymore about what God thinks of you, where you will go when you die, or whether there is any meaning in the universe. God loves you. He proved it on the cross and swears by His holy name that He completely forgives you. You can trust Jesus’ word.
But there’s a lot of peace stealers out there! They try to just budge that door open into your peaceful state of mind ever so slightly. Slam that door on their greedy little hands, brothers and sisters. Slam it hard! Thieves! Robbers. Peace stealers.
Sure, they let you rest on Easter. “He’s risen!” they cried. But the following Sunday, I’ll bet many people heard, “Now ya just gotta! Ya just gotta tell this many people. Ya just gotta look like people who believe a dead man rose. Ya just gotta believe more. You gotta change your life around.”
People are all bent out of shape because the Pope apparently proposed annihilation as the most likely end to sinners as opposed to Hell. The Vatican denies it. Who cares. I’m more concerned that their adherence to the council of Trent still robs people of peace.
“If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.” – 6th session
Or maybe those prosperity preachers steal your peace as they point out how other Christians are so successful because they believe. Therefore, you are left to question, “What’s wrong with me?”
But we all our worst enemy. Jesus’ free gifts and the facts of His death and resurrection run counter to our everyday experience.
You see, maybe that little girl was right! Jesus did say, “Tada!” He sure surprised the heck out of those disciples that first Easter morning. He surprised them with peace. Yet, it’s just a week later, and they are in the same locked room! He surprised them again! Peace! Then a week later they are fishing, and He surprises them again—Peter falls out of the boat! Peace! Tada! He is risen!
Jesus kept surprising them with the new reality that He is risen; they are forgiven and will rise again. And of course, Jesus sent them to do exactly that! Every church service is a “Tada!” moment as we are knocked off our seats by the fact and fruits of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It should blow your mind every time you are reminded of it.
Peace! No, really! Relax. Nothing can get between you and Jesus. No locked doors, no creepy past, no doubts, disability, disease or even death! He is risen! It’s going to be OK! Peace!