Were You There When He Promised Peace?
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Just a few months ago, we celebrated the fulfillment of the prophet’s words: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Now, near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus tells his disciples that he must go away, but he and his Father will send a new Counselor, one that will never leave his faithful followers. This new Counselor, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, will continue teaching the disciples and will remind them of everything Jesus has said to them while he has been with them. This Counselor will enable the disciples to continue the work Jesus began and to carry the good news of salvation out into the world.
The disciples will need the indwelling Holy Spirit. They will face more of the same resistance Jesus endured. They will be ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, driven out of town, and killed for their message of God’s truth, mercy, and love made possible only by the sacrifice of Jesus. The disciples will need the strength, courage, patience, and perseverance that the Spirit will give them. And they will need his peace. Not the kind of peace the world promises, if only nations would stop warring against each other and people would set aside their own self-interest to help each other. That’s the kind of peace the world longs for but will never come, humans being human. No, Jesus offers peace that isn’t contingent on families or communities or nations getting along.
The Prince of Peace offers us a peace that is beyond our comprehension. His peace comforts us in the midst of trouble. It calms our fears, keeping us from falling into despair. No matter how bad our situation is, the peace of the Spirit infuses us with confidence that God is in control, that he loves us, and that he is working toward the fulfillment of his ultimate plan: to redeem all of his children and to restore all of creation to its intended state of perfection. And what is our part in this plan? To trust and obey him. We can claim we love Jesus, but unless we obey him we are fooling ourselves. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. . . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. . . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”
Jesus knew a thing or two about obedience: he was obedient to God, all the way to the cross and the grave. He set the example for us. He chose to commit himself to his Father’s will, submitting his own. That’s something we can do, too. Submission is not a popular concept in our culture (has it ever been?), but our will, being the only thing that we truly own, is the only thing God asks us to sacrifice. He doesn’t need our money or our material possessions or even our time. He wants us. He wants us to align our priorities with his own, to stop chasing after temporal things and embrace the eternal life that only he can offer. And if we do, if we submit ourselves to him, he gives us the Holy Spirit to guide, reassure, comfort, and advocate for us. He gives us true and lasting peace.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (nursery care provided). Discovery Hour is on spring break and will return March 31.