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Jesus spoke to His disciples, and He speaks the same words to us today in the midst of His Bride the Church saying, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27). Yes, Jesus grants us peace that our hearts may not be troubled and so that we not live our lives in fear. Yes, Jesus has opened heaven for us on the cross, and when we die we go not to hell, but to paradise with all the saints of Jesus. Yes, we have nothing but joy supernal waiting for us upon out death because of the cross of Christ. It is this reality that comforts our hearts that we may live this life in joy and peace.
Yes, we have nothing to fear in this life because Jesus has done all things for us that we may live forever with Him. But, we do have fears. We do have days when terror overtakes us and our fears determine our actions. Look at how the world is reacting to the Corona Virus. Yes, we must use our reason and senses and take precautions to prevent any further outbreak of this very unknown virus. Yes, we are called to care for our weaker brother, to think about our neighbor, as per the 5th Commandment, in all that we do. We shouldn't go to the grocery store and buy every last can of Mushroom soup or horde enough Toilet Paper to supply Minute Maid Stadium for a season. Yes, in a time of crisis and fear, we are called to be the Light of the World. Yes, we are called to be calm and live sacrificially for our neighbor. Yes, we are called to live in the peace of Christ that surpasses all understand.
However, we do let the fear overtake us. We are scared to go to Church with people who may have a virus that could kill us. We are afraid of being around others if we think we have the virus and could infect someone else. We are afraid to go out of our house because we see President Trump and Governor Abbot telling us that there is an emergency and we have to pay attention. We do see aisles at the stores empty and we think twice now when someone coughs a little too much. Yes, we are scared, and that fear comes out either in caving in or acting like nothing is wrong.
Jesus died for scared people. Yes, Jesus died on the cross because we allow fear to dictate our daily life. Yes, Jesus died on the cross so that we may be forgiven of our fears. Yes, Jesus died on the cross for we who are scared to go to Church tomorrow morning. Yes, Jesus died on the cross for we who, even if we go to church, will be thinking about the virus the entire time. Yes, Jesus died on the cross for we who are hording food as if we will be stuck in our house for a month. Yes, Jesus died on the cross, so that, if the fear does overtake us tomorrow and we miss Church, we are forgiven.
Yes, Jesus did not wait for the scared Apostles to come back to Him after His resurrection, but appeared to them in the upper room where they were hiding out of fear of the Jews. What did Jesus say to the Apostles when He saw them? Did He yell at them and call them weak men? Did He rebuke them for their fear? Did Jesus tell them, "Sorry, I died on the cross for people who take Me seriously and don't hide." No, rather Jesus said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23). Yes, Jesus spoke peace to His scared Apostles, and then made them pastors so they could go out and speak the same words of peace to those who are scared. Jesus died for scared people, so that scared people may go out and forgive the sins of the terrified and grant them peace to calm their scared hearts.
Yes, my friends, your pastor is here for you, not when you are confident, but when you are scared. Yes, scared of your sin, scared of the devil, scared of the world, and scared of the unknown. Yes, your church is here for you when you are scared. If you miss Church tomorrow because you are scared, or if your fear overcomes you while in Church and that's all you can think about, take heart. Jesus died for your terrified heart in order that He can replace it with His righteous heart that sees God as your benevolent Lord Who has good things waiting for you in heaven. Take heart, and know that, if you are not in Church tomorrow and your pastor calls you during the week, it is not to guilt you, but to bring you the peace of Christ the surpasses all understanding in the forgiveness of your sins. May we walk in this peace together no matter what terror comes our way, knowing that we are here for each other, just Christ is continuously for us before His Father in heaven.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the peaceful voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I love you. I forgive you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.