Sermon for Sunday, 03/22/2020
Texts: John 20:19-23
Theme: “Peace, in the Midst of Fear”
One of the expressions I have used quite often in the past few weeks is “uncharted territory.” There is no denying that these are strange and perilous times. Our world as we know it has greatly changed, so much so that we are still trying to figure out and navigate our way. And all of this comes as a result of this unimaginable threat to our lives posed by this deadly virus. Indeed! It is scary.
This is very similar to the experience of the early disciples in our text. For three years, these disciples had left home, families, abandoned their means of living and committed themselves to Jesus. They saw him heal the sick, and raise the dead, making them to build their hope in him, but right before their very eyes, their Master was shamefully arrested, falsely accused, mockedly tried, wrongly convicted, and criminally executed. The world as the disciples knew it, changed immediately. Their hope was crushed. Everything was now different.
In addition to the irreparable loss they sustained thru the death of their Master, was also the threat to their lives, resulting into deep fear and uncertainly.
Church, anytime our safety and security is threatened, when we become vulnerable to something that has the potential to end our life, our natural human response is fear.
That is why in his book, The Denial of Death, the renowned American cultural anthropologist and author, Ernest Becker writes, “The idea of death, and the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else.”
And these disciples were no exception. The threats to their lives were real. The Jewish authorities who had handed over their Master to be crucified were still out there. They had been with Jesus in public and were recognizable, as evidenced by the little girl’s identification of Peter at the fire, saying, “He was with him,” prompting Peter’s denial (Luke 22:56). The disciples were terrified.
That is why our text this morning puts it so succinctly, “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples met were locked for fear of the Jews,……”
Like these early disciples, we too find ourselves in a perilous time. Like them, there is a real threat to our lives. A disease, an unseen enemy, is taking lives in the tens, hundreds and thousands, and it has the potential to take ours as well.
When we listen to the death toll, the age range, the underlying health effects, and even now that the virus has begun to defy early scientific findings by taking the lives of young people, we are gripped by fear.
And let me say that fearing for your life in this crisis does not make you a faithless Christian. It does not mean that you don’t have the Holy Spirit, or the anointing; it does not mean you don’t believe in the power of God. What it means is that you too are human, and this is what it means to be human, just like the early disciples.
No wonder why when Jesus entered behind the locked doors, he did not rebuke the disciples, for he understood their fear. He knew that what they needed most were words of comfort and assurance. Thus, his first words to them were, “Peace be with you.” And This is exactly what you and I need most right now.
We need the peace Christ offers, in the midst of our fear. And let me say that this does not mean that the virus will instantly vanish; for Jesus’ peace is more than the absence of threat to our lives. This peace, God’s “shalom” is more than that. It gives us wholeness; restoration; hope, health and inner peace, even in the midst of our crisis.
Someone might be saying, “Albert, how can I be at peace, when I fall into the population at risk, or when the stock market is crushing, and I am losing all my investments. Aren’t you following the news?”
“I get it and the last thing I want to do is to underestimate the effect of this crisis on the life of anyone. But I tell you what! That there is life, laughter and smile beyond crisis. I say this not just based upon a book that I have read, or story that I was told, but as real life experience of a survival of a brutal civil war, who lost everything except my life and the rag on my back on that fateful day. But today as I look around, I can testify through the grace of the Almighty, that there will still be life, laughter and joy for us. when the dust settles.
Once again, I get it; that there may be different variables at play in different situations, but the hard truth is that as human beings, there are just some things at some point in life, that you and I won’t have control over, and at those moments, the best we can do, is to let go, and let God take charge.
Remember, “weeping may come through the night, but joy comes in morning (Proverbs 30:5b)”
It is my prayer that each of us listening or reading this message, will live, and smile and laugh again, when all is said and done. And that is when we all shall have been sustained by Christ’s Peace, even in the midst of our current fear.
As I close this morning, let me ask you of two things: Pray and heed the advice of our medical personnel on the frontline. “As they stay on the frontline for us, let us stay home for them”
God bless you.