The Peace of Christ
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
There was no turning back now, not that he wanted to. Everything had brought him to this moment. The evil one had tried more than once to accelerate the timeline or alter the plan, but Jesus had overcome each attempt. The stage was set, and all the actors—the faithful few, the fickle crowd, the vengeful authorities—took their places. Fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy, Jesus, “righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey,” approached Jerusalem, and as he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road ahead of him.
At the place where the road went down the Mount of Olives, the crowd of disciples began to praise God loudly and joyfully for all the miracles they had seen. “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Incensed, some of the Pharisees in the crowd ordered Jesus to rebuke them. “I tell you,” Jesus replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” You can imagine how that went over. Infuriated, the chief priests, teachers of the law, and leaders among the people would step up their efforts to have him killed, not by their own hands but some other way, so that they could believe themselves innocent, even righteous.
Finally in sight of Jerusalem, Jesus paused. These were his people. His children. He had known them, loved them, ever since they had become a nation, and before. They could be devout and obedient or stiff-necked and rebellious, but he loved them. Looking down onto the city, Jesus experienced the full gamut of emotions: exasperation, affection, anger, frustration, devotion. Bitter disappointment. This people who had experienced God’s blessings as well as his discipline, who had lived both free and enslaved, who yearned for the peace they expected to receive when their Messiah delivered them from their enemies, these children had been in the presence of the Prince of Peace for three years, but they had not known him. And their ignorance would keep them stumbling in the dark.
So Jesus wept.
If the people could have seen their future, the Roman siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple, they would have been horrified. The peace they hoped for would elude most of them because they had rejected the One who alone could give it to them. While it’s easy to judge the Jewish people of that time for their blindness and stubbornness, are we really any better? In our busy, hectic lives, while we chase after the things that we expect to give us success and security, where do we look for peace? At the gym? The spa? The beach? Do we try to find peace in escape from our everyday routine? If so, we are just as blind as the first century Jews. To experience real, lasting peace, the peace of Christ, we must know the Prince of Peace. It isn’t difficult: he pursues us, longing for a relationship with us. He stands at the door, knocking. Will we answer? Will we let him in?
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s Worship and nursery care available), then stay afterward for Discovery Hour (classes for ages preschool through adult).