United Church of God

Peace Be With You

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Peace Be With You

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Peace Be With You

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.93 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.16 GB)
MP3 Audio (18.27 MB)

Near the end of His human life, Jesus made a great promise. And this promise would strengthen the disciples' belief and faith in the plan of God. Near the end of his ministry on Earth, Jesus Christ promised His followers that He would leave them with His peace. He said, "Peace is what I leave with you." He said, "My peace, I give to you." It's interesting that what is the most definitive discourse on peace in all of the Bible comes from Jesus Christ suffering, in great pain. On the night before He died, He knew what He was about to face, yet He still took time to comfort His disciples with a message about peace. How do we find that peace that Christ promised us, the peace that overcomes our own natural frustrations and troubling anxieties?


[Peter Eddington] Let me ask you something you may not have thought about. What was the Church like when it was made up of people who personally knew Jesus, who personally knew Mary and the apostle Peter? What was it like to have the apostle Paul as your pastor? Wouldn't it be great to worship with those people? Wouldn't it be a peaceful church? Where would you find a congregation like that today? Think about the apostle Paul's letters. They were written to far-flung regions of the Roman Empire. Letters to the Romans, the Corinthians the Ephesians, the Galatians, the Colossians. They were written to congregations like us who gathered together. But when you read the letters, it can be a little bit disconcerting. Seems like those congregations weren't perfect either. These people had problems. Problems like arguing over how to conduct worship services. Or how to deal with members that were consorting with prostitutes, problems concerning marriage, divorce, gossip, leadership styles in the congregation, members taking each other to court. And that list is just from Paul's letters to Corinth. Hopefully, no one writes a letter to us, right?

It would have been easy to become fed up even if you're one of the earliest Christians. There seemed to be a lack of peace at times. We know a church isn't a building. We know the Church is the people, the Ecclesia, and the Church is regular people. Those churches had their immediate problems. And learning to live in a Christian community can be messy. Sometimes a new person attends one of our UCG congregations and the pastor has to warn them. You know, "Don't expect a perfect congregation. Otherwise, you might become disillusioned." So now transfer this whole thought to the time when Jesus Himself walked the streets of Jerusalem, imagine you were there with your sandals on. What was it like to learn directly from the Master Himself? Your faith would be immensely strong, right? You'd have no doubts about your religion, right? You would be a powerful Christian example, right? And you'd be on an emotional high and have spiritual peace, right?

Well, near the end of His human life, Jesus made a great promise. And this promise would strengthen the disciples' belief and faith in the plan of God, you would think. Near the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus Christ promised His followers that He would leave them with His peace. He said, "Peace is what I leave with you." He said, "My peace, I give to you." And we actually quoted that during the Passover service last week. He spoke these encouraging words in the night just before His arrest, and before His crucifixion that followed, and He said, "We need not be afraid." He said that the peace He gives is something the world cannot give. It might seem strange that someone could have real peace while anticipating the most horribly agonizing trial of His life. But Christ knew and understood the great purpose for which He'd come to this earth, a purpose that superseded everything else. And we know without His sacrifice for our sins, there could be no salvation, there could be no peace. And that's what we were reminded of during the Passover service a week ago.

It's interesting that what is the most definitive discourse on peace in all of the Bible comes from Jesus Christ suffering, in great pain. On the night before He died, He knew what He was about to face yet He still took time to comfort His disciples with a message about peace. After Jesus rose from the dead, the gospel of John records three times Jesus declaring to His disciples, "Peace be with you." And these declarations teach us that His resurrection enabled peace to be with us through the risen Christ in us through the Holy Spirit. Christ said, "Peace, I give to you." How do we find that peace that Christ promised us, the peace that overcomes our natural frustrations and troubling anxieties? Because even the disciples, after walking alongside Jesus for many years, struggled with peace and with their faith. Because it is a message of faith.

Jesus' own disciples lost faith after the crucifixion and even doubted that He'd actually risen thinking maybe they saw a ghost or something. And despite being with Him throughout His ministry and watching powerful supernatural miracles performed, they lost faith, hope, trust, and that peace during the remaining hours of this last day of Unleavened Bread, well, just during the last hour for me, let's focus on the words of Jesus to His disciples, where He repeatedly said, "Peace be with you." The sermon today is titled simply "Peace Be With You." I couldn't come up with a more creative one than that, "Peace Be With You." And I've divided the message up into four sections to help me keep track of where I'm going. So maybe that'll help you keep track of where I'm going too, who knows.

But the first section is simply titled, "Disbelief at First." "Disbelief at First." And I'm going to turn to Mark 16, read verses 11 through 14. So Mark 16:11. And here in Mark 16:11 in the last chapter in the book of Mark, we read Mark 16:11, "When the disciples heard that He was alive and had been seen by Mary Magdalene, they did not believe." What? Verse 12, "After that, He appeared,” He actually appeared miraculously “in another form to the two of them as they walked out into the country. And they went total to the rest, but they did not believe them either." “You’ve got to be kidding me. He's dead and buried.” Verse 14, "So later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen."

So even the disciples had disbelief at first. In many ways, the disciples' disbelief can parallel our own weakness and belief in God. After all, we cannot see God. He's not even appearing miraculously for us. It takes belief in things not able to be seen with our eyes. Picture yourself in Jerusalem in 31 A.D. Would you believe? Would you be one of these that was in disbelief? Imagine the situation. Your faith and hopes in your Messiah were dashed. He was killed by the Romans. But Jesus appeared in miraculous ways after that, moving through walls and closed doors because He was now risen and returning to His former glory. Jesus' resurrection took place during the Days of Unleavened Bread. And the wave sheaf ceremony that was done on Sunday during these days picture the Father in heaven receiving Jesus Christ.

And if you want to at some time, some point, you can read about that in Leviticus 23. But let's turn to Luke 24 right now, and look in more detail at that unbelief and the promise of peace that Jesus then gave. So Luke 24:30, once again, this is the last chapter in this book as well, the last chapter in Luke. Luke 24:30, "Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them,” Jesus was at the table, “He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And then their eyes were opened and then they knew Him,” then they realized who it was. “And then He vanished from their sight." So, miraculously appeared and then miraculously disappeared. Verse 32, "And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road,’” as well as others that were at walking on the road, “‘and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’ So they rose up that very hour and return to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those with them gathered together saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and He was known to them in the breaking of bread.” Of course, even the eleven were in disbelief as well, right? Verse 36, "Now as they said these things,” guess what, we saw? Jesus, “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them,” suddenly appeared again. Another miracle. “And He said to them, ‘Peace to you.’ But they were terrified and frightened, supposed they'd seen a spirit. Maybe they thought they'd seen, you know, a ghost. “And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your heart?’" You know, why don't you believe? “'Behold My hands and My feet. Look at Me, it's Me. It's Myself, handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ And when He said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.”

“But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled,” they were thinking, “We must be dreaming. This can't be real." So what did He say? "Hey, you guys got any food? Any snacks around here?" I guess that's something a real person would say, right? "I'm getting hungry." So they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. So that was the snack of the day, I guess, broiled fish and honeycomb. Adds a little color to the story here, just imagine Him tearing off a piece of honeycomb. "And He took it and ate in their presence. And then He said to them,” verse 44, remember they were in disbelief, “He said to them, ‘These are the words which I told you while still with you, I told you all this was going to happen. I told you I was going to die. I told you I was going to be resurrected. I told you that all these things must be fulfilled, which are actually written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’" Of course, you go back in the Old Testament, and you see all kinds of prophecies about Christ, right?

And then verse 45, "He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. And He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.’" So He went back again and reminded them of the plan that had to unfold. The plan of salvation. The plan for us to have our sins forgiven. In verse 47, "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." And He said, verse 48, "You are witnesses of these things." So we see the disciples had disbelief at first. But then through a series of these miracles, and then conversations with the risen Christ, and He re-explaining everything to them again. They started to become grounded. They started to restore their foundation. And Jesus made a very important statement to them in this discourse, He said, " Peace to you." That's in verse 36, "Peace to you."

So let's look at that phrase now in more detail. The second part here, I have simply called "Peace To You." Let's look at this phrase, "Peace to you." The real peace Christ offers is genuine and it surpasses all understanding. It's not a normal thing. Most people today don't understand peace from a godly perspective. All we know is the negative aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble. We say that peace is the absence of war. So we're not at war right now, so we must be at peace. But the godly idea of peace is a lot more than just not being at war. The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of war, strife, or trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to the circumstances of life. We may be in the midst of great trials yet still have this kind of godly peace, assurance, and faith.

Let's look at Philippians 4:6. Paul said he could be content in any circumstance. And he showed us that peace even when he was in jail or even when he was being stoned. And he remained confident in God's direction over his life. Then in Philippians 4:6, we read, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." The peace of God which surpasses all understanding. It's like when Jesus said, in John 14, "Peace, I leave with you," He said, "Don't be afraid." Jesus said, "Peace, I leave with you. Don't be afraid." It's kind of like the same here, "Be anxious for nothing, have the peace of God."

We need this kind of peace. The word for God in verse 7 is not the same word which means to keep someone in jail or set a guard at the jail cell to keep someone locked up. It's a word using more of a military sense, meaning to stand guard to defend against the onslaught of an enemy. It means for us to stand guard, guard our hearts against the enemy. It doesn't make sense that such peace could exist nor in all the problems and troubles we go through. It doesn't make sense to have peace when you're in trial. But this is divine supernatural peace, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be figured out on a carnal level. So Christ offers us on an individual basis to everyone here a once in a lifetime opportunity to embrace peace today. Rather than waiting for the time when the Kingdom of God comes to this earth, in the Church, we can have peace, and Christ will give it to us. As the firstfruits, as the first to be chosen to understand, we can have that peace. To the world, peace seems elusive. It's hard to ensure peace.

Let know if you recognize these words, "Imagine all the people living life in peace." Imagine, it's almost something unimaginable that the world could live in peace. So here are the words, "Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us and the world will be as one." John Lennon, right? Our world struggles to find peace, and they know it's elusive. And even for us, living a life in which peace is foremost in our minds isn't easy. In our chaotic world, engulfed in turmoil and strife, finding the pathway to peace requires skill and initiative, and has to be pursued, and has to be granted to us. But it can be achieved. God's people can achieve it and have it.

Let's turn to John 20 and look at the three times Jesus specifically said, "Peace to you." It's in John 20. This was after He was resurrected and miraculously appeared to the disciples. But I've read little bits and pieces of it already today here, but now, here it is in more of a long-form where He mentioned it three times. He was resurrected, He miraculously appeared to His disciples. An account here in John 20 is more comprehensive than what we read in Luke 24. So John 20:19, “And then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, because they were scared of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst.” So here's this miracle where He suddenly appears and He said to them, "Peace be with you."

“And when He said this” more than anything else He told them apparently, verse 20 “When He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. And then the disciples were glad when they realized it was Him when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them a second time, He said again, ‘Peace to you!’ And He said, ‘As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’" So it's the second time He's now said it. “And when He had said this,” verse 22, "He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" That is actually very significant. Because it's a fruit of the Spirit, this peace. And verse 23, "If you forgive the sins of any, they're forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they're retained. Now Thomas called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with Him when Jesus came. So the other disciples therefore said to him, said to Thomas, ‘We've seen the Lord.’ And so Thomas said, ‘Unless I see in His hands a print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’" So Thomas is still one of the ones who we're still in disbelief.

Verse 26, "And after eight more days, Jesus' disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them this time. Jesus came, through the shut door, and stood in the midst of them,” another miracle, and said it again, a week later, “'Peace to you.’ And then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your fingers here, buddy. Look at My hands; reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” And so, three times here, Jesus said, "Peace be with you," or, "Peace to you." And Jesus' disciples came to expect this kind of peace from Him. After all, He was the risen Christ, of course, He would have peace. But can you imagine how it must have confounded His enemies? Those enemies who did not know Jesus became irate.

Before His crucifixion when Jesus appeared before Pilate, He was so calm and so assured and so at peace with His upcoming crucifixion the Pilate became greatly irritated. He was furious that Jesus was standing before him without fear. You remember that Pilate said, "Are you not speaking to me?" Pilate said, "Don't you know who you're talking to?" Pilate said, "Do you not know that I have power to crucify you? Or power to release you?" It's in John 19:10. So what did Jesus say? In perfect assurance, Jesus replied, to Pilate, "You could have no power at all over Me unless it's given to you from above." That's the kind of peace we're talking about. That's the kind we receive through the power of the Holy Spirit. And the source of this peace is Christ.

When He said, "Peace to you," or, "Peace be with you," that peace actually does come from Him as well and He gives it to us. Look at 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:16 because Jesus Christ is seen throughout the New Testament as the giver of peace. Jesus Christ gives us His peace. And He is with us all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16, "Now may the Lord of peace," He's the Lord of peace, "Himself give you peace." He's the one Himself that gives it to us. “Always in every way," Paul said. And Paul says, “The Lord be with you all." And so the resurrected Jesus told His disciples as He miraculously appeared before them, "Peace to you. "He said, "Do not be anxious. Do not be afraid, do not fear."

The third section I've called "Peace and Unleavened Bread." Not piece of unleavened bread, but "Peace and Unleavened Bread." And I'm going to turn to Romans 5 here for a moment. The apostle Paul described this process of peace as one of being transformed by the renewing of your mind. And Dave Hemsley actually mentioned Romans 12:2 in his sermonette about being transformed from within, within your mind. And this transformation of our thinking and outlook on life then enables us to enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Romans 5:1, Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So when Christ said, "Peace be with you," or, "Peace to you," He's actually giving it to them, to His disciples. And we read here that we have peace through Christ, we do too.

Look at verse 2, Romans 5:2, "Through Christ whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." It's the grace of God that's poured out upon us. And then verse 5, Romans 5:5, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us." See, once again, the role of the Holy Spirit. It's a fruit of the Spirit, this peace. These Days of Unleavened Bread have reminded us to put sin out of our lives but they also reminded us to take in of the bread of life, to have Jesus Christ now living in us and having His peace in us, giving us His peace. And because of His resurrection, we read here that we are saved by that life, “we are saved by His life.” And He was resurrected during those Days of Unleavened Bread in the first century.

Look at Romans 5:8, just go down a little further, Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." So it's a resurrected Christ that actually makes salvation possible after our sins are forgiven. And then verse 11, "Not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." So we stand in His grace, verse 2, we're “saved by His life,” verse 10.

And the apostle Paul then went on to explain that we must become a new person inwardly, which is one of the lessons of baptism, one of the lessons of Unleavened Bread. Let's turn to 2 Corinthians 5:17 for a moment, 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." We put off the old man, right? We become a new creation, "Old things have passed away; behold, all things become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” So through Christ, we can become reconciled to the Father.

The Bible reveals that the knowledge of God and Christ remains the only avenue to real peace in this life. The only avenue to real peace in this life. When we become baptized, converted, and receive the Holy Spirit, we too gain true peace. I remember as a child watching my dad get baptized. I was just a little kid. And I said, "What did it feel like, Dad?" And he said, "I now have peace of mind." And I'll never forget those words. He said, "I now have peace of mind." Mom came into the Church four years before dad did. And he was playing professional baseball, actually, on Saturdays. So it took him a little longer to come around, but he knew. And then when he got baptized, he did have that peace of mind. He knew he had made the right choice and decision.

That peace comes from Christ, that peace comes through the Holy Spirit living in us. But that knowledge requires action on our part. It's not just a one-time baptism and then you don't have to do anything else. It requires action on our part. Go back to 1 Corinthians 5. We're in 2 Corinthians. Go back to 1 Corinthians 5:7, because as pictured by these Days of Unleavened Bread, we must put sin out of our life and take in the unleavened sinless bread of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 5:7, "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, a new unleavened lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us." So because of Christ's sacrifice, and that's accepting that sacrifice, we truly become unleavened. We become a new lump. We purge out the old self, the old leaven.

And verse 8, "Therefore let us keep the feast,” Feast of Unleavened Bread. So it's a New Testament commandment too, right? “Not with the old leaven, nor the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Let's go back to Exodus 13 for a moment. Read, just again, the instructions passed on down to us to observe. Because the apostle Paul told the Corinthians, "Let's keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread." And one of the earliest instructions to do that are in Exodus 13. Exodus 13, let's just look at verses 6 through 8. Verse 3, to begin with, Exodus 13:3, "Moses said to the people: ‘Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.’"

And then Exodus 13:6, "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day, there should be a feast to the Lord." The seventh day, that's today. So we had a feast at lunchtime today, we had Vietnamese food. I don't think the ancient Israelites had any Vietnamese food available to them. But, "On the seventh day, there shall be a feast to the Lord." It's a Feast day. It's a Holy Day. And verse 7, "Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. You should tell your son in the day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’"

So we're told to remember when Israel came out of Egypt, and this ordinance shows, not just Israel but this ordinance now shows us coming out of Egypt, coming out of spiritual Egypt today, coming out of this world. Some of Christ's final words were, "Don't be of the world. Come out of the world, come out of Egypt." And so we come out of this world and take on a new life, become a new man, a new creation, taking the bread of life, Jesus Christ. And so when our children ask us, we say we do this because of what Christ did for us when we came out of Egypt, out of the watery grave of baptism to become a new creation. We've become a new lump of unleavened bread before God.

As a son or daughter in God's family, we take on a new life. We purge out the old leaven. We receive the peace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He's the one that gives it to us. And it's pictured by these Days of Unleavened Bread, we make a greater, more conscious effort for a week to put sin out of our lives and take in of that bread of life. But this must now continue throughout the year as we leave here today, not just for one week, we need to concentrate on becoming perfect every day of our lives, not just during Unleavened Bread. So taking in the bread of life enables us to have that peace that Christ gives.

The fourth section I've titled "How Do We Find the Peace That Christ Promised?" How do we find the peace that Christ promised? And in many respects, we've kind of already said this. How do we find the peace that overcomes our natural frustrations and troubling anxieties? We find one key to discovering true peace in Psalm 119:165, I'm going to turn to it, Psalm 119:165. Psalms 119 take about half of my Bible. Psalms 119:165, "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. Lord, I hope for Your salvation," verse 166, "and I do Your commandments." So the law, the commandments, and peace all work together. Great peace of those who love God's law and who do it. Loving God's law clearly implies obedience to it, of course, but we have to do something, we have to do His commandments. And those commandments are not burdensome.

Going back to the New Testament to 1 John 5:2, I'm going to go over to 1 John 5:2 where we kind of see this reiterated in the New Testament. 1 John 5:2, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is a love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God," that's you and me, you and I are born of God, "overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.” It's our faith in Jesus Christ. In contrast, there is no peace for the wicked. If you ever read Isaiah 57, it talks about the wicked and how they have no real peace. Isaiah 57:21 says, "There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked." But then He says, "But those who obey me, they'll have peace." It's in Isaiah 57, "True peace comes as a result of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and then Him living in us, the bread of life living in us."

Colossians 1:19 is where I want to turn to next if you want to make a note of it, Colossians 1:19. Colossians 1:19, "For it pleased the Father that in Him in Jesus all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, and by Him, where the things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." So through the blood of Jesus Christ being shed that we can have this peace and, it says again, being reconciled to the Father. Verse 21, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, “yet He has now reconciled in the body of Jesus' flesh through death,” we’re reconciled because of Christ's death, “to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” verse 23, "if indeed you continue in the faith." So, we have to love the law, we have to do His commandments, we have to “continue in the faith” it says here, "grounded and steadfast, not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard." So it takes a little work on our part, day by day, putting sin out, becoming more perfect each day.

A sinful person has to be reconciled before God and has to continue in the faith. We have to keep these commandments. The blood of Christ then allows us to come before God and to be at peace and be reconciled with God. Christ died for our sin imputing His righteousness upon us. So Paul says, "We're no longer enemies of God, but are at peace with God because we've become reconciled." You see how significant the shed blood of Jesus Christ is in bringing us peace. And that's why after He was resurrected, He said, "Peace, I give to you." And we are then saved by the resurrected life of Jesus Christ and having Him live in us. The bread of life living in us. You'll recall from John 6:48 where Christ said, "I am the bread of life." It's in John 6, "I am the bread of life.” And the living bread of life truly is alive today. He's sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.

And we too shall live with Him through the same power, we too shall become resurrected upon Christ's return through the same power that resurrected Christ himself. That's our hope. And so, we do His commandments, we hold on to that promise. We examine ourselves, we test our faith. And from all this comes peace of mind and true peace of the Spirit that Christ promised. “True peace of mind,” like my dad said. And so, as I mentioned a moment ago, as we leave here today, we must continue to examine ourselves, examine our faithfulness, test ourselves. Make sure Jesus Christ is living in us. We're not just like anybody else out there. And it goes far beyond just this week of Unleavened Bread.

I want to turn to a couple more scriptures. 2 Corinthians 13:5 is a good reminder. 2 Corinthians 13:5 where Paul was telling the Corinthians, a church that we know had several issues going on within their ranks, 2 Corinthians 13:5, he said, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, if Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified." So test yourselves, examine yourselves, make sure Christ is living in you.

Throughout the year, we will continue to examine ourselves, test ourselves, and put out all spiritual leavening. The physical leavening's just for one week. We have to put up the spiritual leavening every day of our life. We will take in, instead, the spiritual bread of life, Jesus Christ. We make sure He is living in us, as Paul said there in verse 5, "Is Christ living in you?" And then the peace that surpasses all understanding will be given to us, no matter what trials and hardships we're going through at the time. That's how the fruits of the spirit work. Another fruit of the spirit is joy. But joy is not happiness. You don't have to be happy to have joy. Joy is kind of like peace in that you're having assurance no matter what you're going through.

Romans 15:13 is where I want to turn to you for a moment, just one verse, Romans 15:13. Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." This is our hope. We are filled with joy and peace, joy is mentioned here as well. We mentioned we're filled with joy and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit in us after our baptism and conversion and laying on of hands. And Christ told His disciples He would give it to us. You'll all remember the promise for us from the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God." If you're filled with that peace, if you're a peacemaker, you'll be called the Son of God. We all want to be blessed. We all want to be called sons and daughters of God, don't we? So we must be filled with the spirit of peace, and be peacemakers.

So as we conclude here this afternoon, let's turn to John 14:27, which is what I mentioned at the very beginning without turning to it. John 14:27, and this is a passage, no doubt, read wherever you are keeping the Passover service. John 14:27, Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you." This is not something the world can ever give you. "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." So we never have to be deeply troubled. We never have to be deeply afraid because Christ has given us this peace. It's not anything the world can ever give us. God's peace is not like the peace of the world. The world's peace is fleeting. There's a famous quote by Greek historian Herodotus, you can find it all over the internet. You'll recognize it when I mention it, by Herodotus, he says, "In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons."

Let me read you just a couple of sentences from an article in The New York Times from July of 2003, July 6, 2003. It's an article by Chris Hedges titled "What Every Person Should Know About War." He says, "What is war? War is defined as an active conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.” So I guess if 999 get killed, it's not a war. He says, "Has the world ever been at peace?” Well, here's what the world thinks of as peace. “Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history." He says, "How many people have died in war?" He said, "Just in the 20th century alone, 108 million in war, but estimates for the total number killed in war throughout all of human history range up to 1 billion." And so for a few years of absence of war, they say, "We're at peace now." That's the only peace the world can give you is a few years without war. The only peace this world can know is shallow and unfulfilling. The fact is that apart from God, there is no real peace in this world. The peace of this world can be nothing more than a momentary time of tranquility.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt grappled with the idea of real peace on our planet. I got this from brainyquote.com, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "If civilization is to survive..." so he's talking about the very survival of civilization. "If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships— the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace." I like where he says "if." Our leaders promise us peace. Roosevelt looked for a way to find peace for our very survival as a race as a human race. The survival of civilization is at stake. We know that unless Christ would return, we'd all be doomed. But the solution is not physical. It's not a physical solution. It's a spiritual solution. And the kind of peace we're talking about can only come from Jesus Christ himself. And we have the answer to how it can be accomplished. There are peace summits held all over the place all the time. Things don't get any better. We have the answer, and it comes through Jesus Christ.

The process of building righteous character into our lives through a dynamic relationship with the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, will be the only thing that ultimately brings us real spiritual peace. It can only come through a relationship with God. And that peace is available to you and me today. And the fullness of this promise will be realized in the culmination of God's plan for all of humanity when the kingdom of God is established on this earth. Jesus said, "Peace, I give to you." So the disciples should have it now. We should have that peace now with Christ living in us. These Days of Unleavened Bread pictured us putting sin out of our lives. They pictured us taking in the life of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the peace of God, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

So let's continue that sinless obedient life as we focus on the next Holy Day, the Day of Pentecost, which actually is all about the firstfruits in the beginning of the Church. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His subsequent resurrection makes this all possible for us, and we can rejoice in that. And now we are called the firstfruits. May you have a wonderful rest of this Holy Day, and a wonderful Sabbath day tomorrow. It's a double Sabbath weekend. And may you enjoy the peace which surpasses all understanding.