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Description: Are we anxious about anything? Jesus wants peace to reign in every area of our lives-all will be well even at death!
Jesus Brings Absolute Peace
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Let’s take our Bibles please and turn to Ephesians 2:17 we’re at today, Ephesians 2:17, “And he came
and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” “And he came and
preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” And of course, we can
remember some of the words that Jesus preached when he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I
give to you, not as the world giveth I not onto you.” So there were several places where he
preached peace himself to us, but of course he preached it also to his Apostles who then preached it
to us also.
But what do you think it will be like the moment after you die? What do you think it will be like,
or maybe a moment after that? I mean, will you go out into the sky, and out into all that space,
and just feel lonely and desperate? And that’s where it’s pretty important to have somebody who has
been out there and who can tell you what to expect, and that’s what – part of what the verse means,
that there has come to us someone who has been out there, and who assures us, “I am going to prepare
a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also. In my Father’s house are many mansions for
if it were not so would I have told you? I am going to prepare a place for you.” And that’s what
Jesus says to us. He assures us it will not be a wild desolate sky that we go into. The first
thing you’ll see is your Father’s dear face, and his arms stretched out towards you to receive you
into his home, and so that’s what death will be like.
So of course, Jesus brings to us a great peace there by what is going to happen the moment after we
die. But what the verse says to is that he’ll bring peace to us everywhere. Of course, it’s good
if you have a wife whose name is that, “eirene” and then you could always encourage her, but that’s
the word that Jesus uses, “eirene” and it’s two parts and this part “rene” seems to be a verb that
strangely enough means “to join”. So that peace is not just an absence of war and yet it is, that’s
the opposite word, that’s the opposite English word, you know, peace, it’s not rest and activity
it’s peace and war. So “polemos” I think, “polemos” is the word for war, which is very different
and that’s where you get polemics, you remember, when you talk about philosophy or theology
polemics, as opposed to “eirenics” of course, “eirene” is peace, but it’s join, it’s to join, it’s
the very opposite of course of this fighting, and striving that is in war and Jesus came and
preached peace to us. He came and preached peace.
He preached a joining of things, of peace in everything. And that is his will, and his Father’s
will before us, it’s for peace. Peace in everything. Peace when our little hearts beat about
death, peace there and joining, a sense that all will be well, our Father has it planned, he knoweth
our frame that we are weak and so he will be right there if one of us says, “Oh but I’m a nervous
kind of person, or I’m a fearful kind of person, or my brother never liked to talk, or I’m afraid of
the dark.” God knows our framework and he will be there and he will help us through.
So peace has all that feeling, you know, of joining things together. And of course, Jesus speaks
peace to those who are near and to those who are a far off, and that ties up somewhat with what we
talked about several Sundays ago, about sharing these things with those who are a far off, because
that’s what the verse says, “He came and preached peace to you who are a far off.” He was speaking
to the Gentiles, “And to you who are near.” And you remember, the Gentiles were the ones who had
none of the hopes or the signs that the Jews had that God really loved them and cared for them.
That was the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, the Jews had prophets who said, “Though
your sins are scarlet they shall be as white as snow and though they’d be like crimson they shall be
as wool.” The Jews were the ones who received promises from God through Abraham, and through Isaac,
and through Jacob that they would have a land flowing with milk and honey, and that they would have
power and strength to overcome their enemies.
So they had many signs that God was with them and was not against them. The Gentiles didn’t. The
Gentiles had none of those signs, they had only their pagan religions, their animism, their worship
of the little well at the end of the village street, so they had no assurance of what it was like
behind the sky. So are our dear friends that we meet day-by-day, be it the man who is at the gas
station and takes our money, or the one who is in the store who we hope will take our product. They
are in the same position as Gentiles they have no certainty at all.
There is a great vagueness, “Oh when we get up there into the great beyond we will know everything,”
and there’s a lot of light talk about that. So man cannot live without hope, even hopeless hope, so
there is hopeless hope in some of their hearts, but beneath it all is a great trembling, and a great
tremor, and a great uncertainty about what is going to happen after this world is over. That’s why
they often joke about it and treat it lightly, because they dare not think about it too seriously,
the fear would strike at their heart. And so that’s their situation, and yet this verse says that
Jesus comes and preaches peace to those who are far off as well as those of us who are near.
So it does seem that there is a lot of place for sharing reality as it is. And undoubtedly there’s
a way to talk about life and death that is realistic, but it need not be totally lacking in the
certainties that we have, and that we have heard from our Savior. And it is possible it seems to
me, in certain situations, even in ordinary conversation, it is possible in a non-religious way, and
a non-precious way to say, “Well of course, there is certainly one person who has been through to
the other side, and assures us that life is going to be beautiful for us after this life is over.”
In other words there are ways in which we can share even that kind of a spiritual truth with those
whom we’re speaking to, because Jesus came to assure them also that there is certainty after this
life. We have to share what he has told us, we are not called upon to work out the best way by
which they can come into receiving him as their savior. We are called upon to preach the
certainties that we know about.
Now I think they will be very quick themselves to realize that they need to make some move towards
the Savior, but really the truth is unless they make a move towards him because they are drawn to
him and because they have an honest heart to him, there’s no danger of the Holy Spirit failing to do
his faithful work in convicting them of sin. But it is just worthwhile remembering that preaching
peace he comes to preach peace to those who are far off as well as to those who are near.
What I thought was important for us to grasp today was that, that is his will to bring absolute
peace in every area of our lives. And I don’t know if you are aware of some places in your own
heart or your own life where you haven’t absolute peace, but his will is absolute peace, not only
his will but he has made that possible. In other words, when our minds become anxious about the
sales, or about what this person thinks of us, or that person thinks of us, or when our minds become
worried and anxious about what we’re going to do about this situation, this financial situation, or
this person’s situation, that is a lack of peace. That is disruption that is the chaos of war, that
is where our minds fight against the facts, and our feelings fight against our minds, and that is
war that is not peace. And there is some way in which we are not living in reality at that moment
because Jesus has said, “Have no anxiety about it.” And through Paul he said, “And everything by
prayer and supplication let your request be made known to God.” And he himself said, “I tell you do
not be anxious about your life, what you’ll eat, or what you’ll drink, or what you’ll put up. Look
at the lilies of the field they do not sow, they do not toil, and yet Solomon in all is glory was
not arrayed like one of these.” If the one who clothes the sparrow or clothes the flowers of the
field loves you he will clothe you. Are you not of much more value than many sparrows? And Jesus
has assured us that those things are taken care of.
So when there’s a lack of peace inside in our emotions, and in our heads, and in our minds it’s
because we’re not living in the reality that he has brought, and he has come to preach peace to us.
Now if it was me or Norman Vincent Peale saying those things you could legitimately say, “What do
you know? You’re telling me not to have any anxiety about these things, but these things are real,
these are difficulties that I’m about to face this coming week, now what can you do about them?”
We’d have to say, “Nothing.” But this is Jesus who has come and preached peace to us. This is
God’s own Son who has said, “Have no anxiety about it.” This is the one who has control and has the
power in his hands to make things work.
I don’t know if you’ve experienced much of it, I’ve experienced some of it, the quiet time getting a
bit ragged, and then after a number of days, or weeks, or sometimes months, then realizing that
it’s ragged and then bringing it together again, and life seems to go most peacefully. I’ve
certainly experienced that and I’d be slow to say that because I’m not too gung-ho on that magical
stuff, but I think that’s the deeper meaning of peace. Peace is when all things are joined
together, when everything is working the way it’s meant to work. Peace is when life is just
flowing. Not that there are no difficulties, but they are details, they are little – not just
things that we call bumps in the road, we’re aware they’re just a bump in the road, they’re hardly
noticeable. But life itself has a flow to it and there’s a sense of the day going gently forward as
it’s meant to go.
All I can say to you is, from my experience it’s very different from this kind of existence. It’s
very different when the life flows. It’s very noticeable, it’s plain to you, you come to the end of
the day and it’s easy, it’s been a nice day, things have gone well, everything hasn’t gone
perfectly, but generally there’s been a flow and you feel that it’s gone the way God wanted it to
go. Now it seems to me that’s the deeper meaning of the verse, that Jesus came and preached peace
both to those who were a far off and those who were near. He said, “There is a way for life to go
here on earth that has a peace about it, an integration a coordination about it so that you’ll feel
In other words, there is a deep oneness between you – I don’t want to get too mystical about this,
between you and this table, and the air, and the other minds in this room, and even the old car that
you’ll drive, there is a mystical connection between all those – among all those things, that
enables you to affect them and to be in harmony with them. There is a deep peace that Christ brings
into the whole of life through his death and resurrection, and that’s part of what probably
Armstrong (Lance Armstrong) feels. He feels that just a rough kind of touch of it when he’s riding
in the Tour de France and everything seems to go well, and he’d say, “Everything just seemed to
flow. My legs seemed to pump up and down like jack hammers without any difficulty at all.” And
then there are other times when the thing seems to be a grind and a burden.
Now I think he, at that time, touches the spiritual flow of the river that is God’s norm for us in
our everyday life and that’s what peace is. Peace is not just peace among friends, or agreeing with
each other, or being close to each other, peace is a deep harmony that runs through us and runs
through the life that we’re living. So I think we caught glimpses of it with people likes St
Francis of Assisi, you know, who seemed to have a oneness at times with the animals and with birds.
It seems to me that’s just an example of it, but what we are intended for is a oneness and a
harmonious flow in our everyday life that comes directly from the cross of Calvary where Jesus
overcame the world, and caught all the different threads, all these bits and pieces, you know, all
this person and that person, my money, my job, my car, my body, and he brought them all together
into him and jointed them into one life and this is the life that he has for us, that Jesus has come
and preached peace both to those who are near and those who are far. Let us pray.
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