John 20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

3 things happened this week, and the one thing they all hold in common is that people didn’t like the way things were, and were hoping for a change for the better – that is, a change which might bring peace. First, Israel elected a new Prime Minister, in part in the hopes that he might be able to make peace with the Palestinians. Second, Congress passed an emergency appropriation, in the hopes that more bombs might bring peace in Kosovo. Third, Congress passed a gun control bill, in response to the High School shootings – they want peace, especially in the suburbs where they live. 3 things happened this week, happened because people wanted peace, and although they have acted, I doubt that any of their actions will bring the desired results.

I’m not going to tell you that Christ and the Gospel bring peace, at least not the way world means peace. Jesus says quite plainly, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace, I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Jesus doesn’t even promise peace in the family, for he also says "a man's foes will be those of his own household." This conflict will occur because families are divided, and not all act in faith. It will happen in the world, because not everyone follows Jesus. It will happen because in the world there is still sin, death, and the devil – who continue to fight against God – even though they have already been defeated – they fight in order to deny to believers the victory that is ours in Christ.

You see, there is a peace of God, and a peace in Christ – there is a peace that conquers our fears – but it is not the peace of the world – it is rather peace with God. The peace of God comes through the forgiveness of all our sins and the promise to us of eternal life. The world is terrified by death. It is terrified by death because on the one hand they are not certain what comes next – some think that there is nothing after life – others think that something comes next – but it is not good. It seems that all know, at least on some level, that at death comes judgement – and the world is afraid because it sees its sins. We see our sins, and are afraid, even though we keep hearing it is not our fault, even though many people tell us that we should not feel guilty – there is nothing of the world that can remove this fear and guilt – and yet our hope, and the promise of God is that there is something – the blood of Jesus that washes away our sins, and forgives us of all iniquity.

We receive the peace that comes through the forgiveness of sins in Jesus blood through the gift of the Spirit. God sent His Spirit into our hearts to work a faith that could grasp the promise, believe and be saved. God sent the Spirit into our minds to open them that they might understand the Scriptures, and hear the promise of God for the forgiveness of our sins – so that we might have peace with God. If we have peace with God, if we believe the promise of eternal life – then we need have no fear of death. And once the power of death is conquered, the world has very little power over us, for in due course we will also find the Spirit working faith in us which enables us to conquer the world and our flesh. With the Spirit in us, we need no longer hide in the upper room in fear, but we can go out into the world.

We got out into the world, that we might bring them the peace of God in Jesus Christ through the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If the whole world were in the peace of Christ – there would be the peace that the world longs for. For this peace does not come about because of a vote, or a new law – but this peace through the Spirit comes about because in Christ God has made us a new creation.

Now that would be enough – but we are given an even greater treasure, for not only are we given forgiveness of our sins – be we are given the power to forgive others. This is the power which sends us out into the world to bring not only forgiveness but the power to forgive as we have been forgiven. And this is important because holding a grudge give no peace – even getting even does not give peace – but forgiveness does give perfect peace and a healing of the mind so that it no longer keeps a record of wrongs. And it does so because of the change that has been worked in us, whereby we are a new creation, we are forgiven, we are the children of God – and we want all to share with us in the grace of God which is ours in Christ.