Let God’s Peace Lead You
Luke 24:36 “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”
Just as every sport has disputes that must be settled by the officials, the peace of God is the umpire that settles all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives. We must learn to listen to and heed the peace of God in our hearts.
God’s peace is something that every born-again believer has. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. That peace is always umpiring; we just don’t always pay attention. How many times have you acted contrary to the peace in your heart and afterwards, you experience disaster? You say, “I never did feel good about that.” That was the peace of God umpiring, but we chose to play by our own rules.
There are some things we can do to facilitate the peace of God umpiring in our hearts. First, consider ALL the options. Many wrong decisions have been made because not all the options were considered. Don’t let fear rule out God’s possibilities. Next, use your imagination to explore what will happen with each choice. You should be able to discern a greater peace as you consider the option the Lord would have you take. That is not to say that there will be total peace with any of the choices. In your spirit there will be total peace over the right choice, but we aren’t always totally in the Spirit and it is not unusual for some turmoil to exist. Just as an umpire has to make a call, be bold enough to follow the direction that gives you the most peace.
The rudder on a ship can’t go any direction until the ship is moving. The ship doesn’t have to be going full steam ahead for the rudder to work, but it does have to be moving. Likewise, we have to act before the peace of God will give us perfect direction. Even if you make a mistake, you will have made it in faith, trying to follow the peace of God in your heart. The Lord can bless a wrong decision made in faith from a pure heart, more than He can bless indecision, Romans 14:23.
The Fathers’ Plan
Luke 24:21 “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”
When the right time came, God sent forth His Son from Heaven in His pre-existent state, into the world. He was born of a woman (virgin birth) and was made subject to the requirements of the law. Jesus was sent at a specific time. The entrance of Jesus into the physical realm was not a random thing occurring at a haphazard time. There were developments that had to take place before Christ could come to earth and redeem man. The Father sent His Son to the earth at the earliest possible time. Anytime prior to the time Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, would have been premature.
His purpose for coming into the world was twofold. First, He came to “redeem them that were under the law.” He did this by perfectly keeping the law, fulfilling it, and paying its cursem Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:13. Thus, Christ delivered us from the entire system of the law. The Greek word for redeem means “to buy OUT OF the slave market.”
Secondly, Christ gave us the status of sonship with all its privileges. Not only were we redeemed from the bondage of the law, but we were redeemed unto sonship. Many people stop short, only realizing what they were delivered from, not what they inherit. Sure, we need to rejoice that we are redeemed, but we also need to move on, and realize the full benefits of our inheritance.
God created us for Himself but we sold ourselves into slavery to the devil. God bought us back through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. No amount of effort, human works, or man’s own righteousness could bring the divine favor that we needed. It was the actual life of God. Leviticus 17:11, that purchased our redemption.
Value Christ Higher Than Self
Matthew 28:9 “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”
Self-denial is embraced by much of Christianity today. Historically, self-denial has always been a big part of false religion. Most religions of the world teach an abasement of self, but they do it as penitence in order to obtain salvation. This is not the denying of self that the Bible advocates.
True self-denial as the scriptures promote is not self hatred or masochism, but rather an enthroning of Christ above self. We have a new identity in Christ that replaces the old self. We don’t deny self in order to obtain salvation, but it is a love response to what Christ has already done for us. He gave His all for us and we willingly give our all back to Him.
Denying self in an attempt to earn salvation is most always motivated by guilt and characterized by rigid rules. True Christianity, on the other hand, is not the observance of rituals, but a relationship that produces holiness as a fruit and not the root of salvation.
Holiness doesn’t come from the outside and work its way inside. When we are born again we become righteous, and we work that holiness out into our physical lives.
Trying to destroy the power of self through harsh laws actually arouses and strengthens sin. Christians must not let life become a set of rules, but rather a response to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ
Death Has Lost Its Power
Matthew 27:52 “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,”
This is an amazing event that only Matthew records. This earthquake apparently rolled the stones away from many of the graves in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and some of the saints buried there arose from the dead. Even at the death of Jesus, such power was released that death lost its grip on its captives.
It is uncertain whether these resurrected saints died again or were caught up to God. If they were resurrected at Christ’s death, then they would have had to die again, just as Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter or the widow’s son at Nain or anyone else that Jesus raised from the dead during His ministry. This is because Jesus was, “the firstfruits of them that slept”, Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20. Jesus was not the first person physically raised from the dead, but He was the first person begotten from the dead to never die again.
If these people were not actually resurrected until after Jesus’ resurrection, when Matthew states they came out of their graves, then they could have been resurrected with their glorified bodies to never die again.
At any rate, these saints went into Jerusalem after Jesus was resurrected and they appeared to many people. We can only guess what effect this must have had on the people.
The resurrection of Jesus puts Christianity in a class all by itself. Many people have come and gone professing some revelation from God or new way of approaching God. But only Jesus has conquered death. This makes Him unique and elevates Him above the level of any other man who has ever walked on the earth. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof of the accuracy of His doctrine.
The Veil Is Torn
Luke 23:45 “And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”
The veil spoken of here reached from the ceiling to the floor, from wall to wall, and separated the Holy of Holies from the holy place in the temple. Solomon’s temple was 30 cubits high,1 Kings 6:2), but Herod increased the height to 40 cubits according to the writings of Josephus, a first century historian. Therefore, depending on what standard you use to convert cubits to feet (there is uncertainty as to exactly what a cubit equaled in our feet and inches), this veil was somewhere between 60 feet and 90 feet high.
It is significant that this veil was rent from top to bottom, Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38. No man could have torn the veil in this fashion. It was definitely God that rent the veil. The time when this veil was rent corresponds exactly with the moment Jesus died.
Hebrews 9:1-9 tells us that the veil separated the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt, from the rest of the temple, where men dwelt. This signified that man was separated from God by sin, Isaiah 59:1-2. Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil, and only once each year, Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7. This symbolized the Christ who would enter into God’s presence for us and make an atonement.
The moment that Christ died, the veil was torn in two, revealing that the sacrifice had been made and that there is no longer any separation between God and man. Jesus tore the veil, that is to say His flesh, Hebrews 10:20, in two and opened up a new way unto God through Himself.
Religious Pride Brings Dissension
Mark 15:10 “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.”
The Jews were God’s chosen people and therefore, God’s representatives on earth. Yet, they lied and condemned an innocent man to death. Pilate could see that their real motivation for wanting Jesus dead was envy. They were doing all their religious works to be seen of men, and were upset that Jesus was getting more recognition than they were. If these Jews would have thought about what type of witness they were giving, even they would have known that their actions were not inspired by God.
We should remember that we are God’s witnesses on earth, or as Paul said, “We are epistles… known and read of all men”, 2 Corinthians 3:2. Judging our actions in the light of, “What kind of witness will this give to others?” will help us discern whether or not we are being led of God.
The chief priests had deceived themselves and other religious people into believing that they were condemning Jesus for godly reasons, but even an ungodly ruler like Pilate could see through their lies. Religious bondage blinds people to the truth even more than sin does.
These rulers wanted to retain their power and authority, so they fought against the power and authority of Jesus. This is still the same today. Men use doctrinal issues to disguise the real issue. The truth is that, “Only by pride cometh contention”, Proverbs 13:10. People who love to have the preeminence, 3 John 9, are usually the instigators of persecution.
God’s Awesome Power
John 18:6 “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
It is evident that it was the power of God that made these six hundred men fall backwards to the ground, but why did it happen when He said, “I am he”?
In this verse, and also in verse eight, the word “he” is italicized. That means that the word “he” was not in the original text but was added by the translators to make the sentence grammatically correct. This serves a useful purpose and is very helpful in most cases. However, the translators put these additions in italics so that we could be aware of what the text literally said.
In this instance, Jesus literally said, “I am.” Since Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, His statement of “I am,” carried just as much weight as when He expressed it to Moses, Exodus 3:14. This is nothing less than the Almighty God releasing His glory through the powerful statement, “I AM.” No wonder these men were knocked to the ground.
This graphically illustrates how Jesus could have easily defended Himself against any size army that would come to take His life. As He said in John 10:18, “No man taketh it (i.e. His life) from me, but I lay it down of myself,”.
There are many instances recorded in scripture where people fell to the ground as a result of being in God’s presence. The same thing still happens today. Just as some people faint when they experience fear, when they experience the awesome presence of God, they become weak, and lose strength in their physical body.
Learn The Word By Doing It
Matthew 26:55 “In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.”
The four gospels refer to Jesus teaching 43 times, preaching 19 times, and preaching and teaching in the same verse, six times. This indicates that Jesus spent twice as much time teaching as He did preaching. Teaching is the basic building block for making disciples. Jesus was making disciples, not just converts.
The Greek word for “disciple” literally means “a learner,” and indicates “learning by endeavor” or what we would call “on-the-job training.” Jesus said in John 8:31, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” Anyone who meets this criterion is Jesus’ disciple.
“Jailhouse religion,” where a person is only sorry he got caught and is trying to get out of a bad situation, will not produce true discipleship. It takes a forsaking of all to be Jesus’ disciple. Jesus wants us to “count the cost.” It is definitely a commitment.
What the Lord has started in you, He will also continue and complete. That is not to say that your success will be automatic; we have to cooperate with what God is wanting to do in our lives. Our faithfulness may always be suspect, but God’s faithfulness is never in question. It is always God’s will to continue and complete the good work He began in us.