Questions God Asks, Pt. 4
Study Guide, July 24, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
It’s just like our God that the first words to His disciples after His resurrection were “Peace be with you.” They were experiencing the greatest upheaval of their lives. They were under attack from the Roman government and the religious authorities, and even from their own consciences. On the Mount of Olives in a place called Gethsemane, Jesus had told them that the Shepherd was about to be struck and the sheep would be scattered. Peter assured Jesus that he would not forsake Him…and all the others vowed the same. But just after that Jesus was arrested and the sheep did scatter. Matthew said, “The disciples left Him and fled.” And now their lives were in danger, their families were in danger, and their hopes were in shambles. And yet something was happening that would seem too good to be true, but it was. Jesus was fulfilling hundreds of Old Testament prophecies. He was purchasing our salvation with His own sinless blood. And they were about to learn that He had risen from the dead as our living Lord and Savior, proving that all the prophecies and promises were true…just as Jesus had said.
And so while the disciples are experiencing the greatest trials of their lives, Jesus comes into their midst and gives them the greatest peace for their lives. Notice the encounter: Luke 24:33-37- “And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized Him as He was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus Himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!” NLT
Before we get to the questions that Jesus then asks them, it’s these ‘first words’ by Jesus to the disciples that stand out like a neon sign. Again, the disciples were in danger, they were in doubt, and they were in despair. And they were still aware of what they had promised Jesus, that even if everyone else fell away, they never would even if they had to die. They would not leave Him, they said…well, again, those vows were all broken now, and they were living with it all…living with trials from their enemies and troubles from themselves. But instead of rebuke or reprimand Jesus comes to them and says, “Peace be with you.” And such is our God!
‘Peace’ is one of the most multifaceted words there is, especially in the Biblical sense. Remember, the Apostle Paul said that for the Christian, ‘peace’ is like a ‘birthright’ for us. How so? Rom 5:1-2- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” NASU Through Jesus’ judicial sacrifice to remove the penalty and guilt of our sins against the holiness of God, we now stand ‘justified’ before God…declared ‘not guilty’ and declared ‘righteous’ before God. We are now in ‘right standing’ with God because Jesus bore the sin-penalty for us and granted His ‘righteous standing’ to us. Therefore, we stand before God as those who are in ‘right standing’ with God. God’s justice is satisfied by Jesus’ offering in our place, and therefore God’s peace is now our birthright by being born again into the very family of God. Seems too good to be true, but it is!
If you have turned to God in repentance of your sins against God, and asked Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior, you, therefore, have been justified by faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Plus, in this grace…in this place of unmerited favor in which you stand, you also can exult in this hope…in the assured hope of the glory of God. Oh yes, seems too good to be true, but it is!
So now Jesus has a couple questions for them…Luke 24:38-43- “And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them.” NASU
And to this all the fishermen say, “Hallelujah!” Yes, Jesus loves to eat fish! Even in our resurrected bodies we will get to enjoy fish! Remember, later on Jesus even served up a fried fish breakfast on the beach. Oh yeah, we have a lot of good fish and chips meals ahead for us Brethren!
So Jesus’ own resurrected body was an astounding joy for them, and for us. But His questions reached further than even their immediate experience, for there would be further trials and further problems, and they were going to have to deal with them differently than they had in order to face these outward storms with inner peace. What do we mean?
The Greek language is far more picturesque than our English is. For example, Jesus asked them why they were ‘troubled’. The Greek word for ‘troubled’ here is like a river of rapids…as in a river of white-water rapids. It’s like if you could see inside of them, it was like looking at white-water rapids in their mind and soul.
Many people are like that…Regardless of their outward appearance, they are full of white-water rapids in their mind and soul. They may claim to be just fine, they may even say they are at peace…but still there churning waters of unrest and agitation in their spirit. And coupled with that is the next question: “…why do doubts arise in your heart?” The Greek word pictures ‘doubt’ as an internal debate going on within a person with much of the discussion based upon one’s own ‘imagination’ and ‘inner reasoning’. Imagination and inner reasoning? That means that our doubts are often like a debate going on inside our heads between our own fanciful imagination on one side and our faulty reasoning on the other side. And those are both deceived and distorted! So no wonder we are so often living with such a mess of agitation in our mind and spirit when we have this debate going on in our souls between our messed-up imagination and our messed-up reasoning!
Remember, our unrealistic imagination and our faulty reasoning can never be trusted to lead us to ‘truth’. Truth lies outside of us…outside of humanity. Truth comes from a source outside of humanity. Truth comes from God alone! Truth is foremost a Person: Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Which means, when it comes to our own imagination or reasoning or thinking, think about it: ‘how’ we think is even more important than ‘what’ we think…because ‘how’ we think ‘will’ determine ‘what’ we think.
We need to think outside of ourselves. Or, we desperately need a ‘Third Debater’! We need to be listening to another source in order to calm our troubled waters and settle our doubting mind! And so up steps Jesus and says to us: “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Brothers and Sisters, This same Jesus that showed His hands and His feet to His disciples, and who then let them hold His hands and touch their God is the same Jesus that says to you and me every day: “Peace be with you…”
That sounds too good to be true, but it is! And why can ‘peace be with you and me’? Because Jesus is with you and me every day, and Jesus is our Peace. One of Jesus’ names is even “Prince of Peace”. And although He is not standing before us like He was then, He is dwelling within us through the Holy Spirit of Christ! Therefore, ‘Peace’ Himself dwells within us! But this peace is not as the world gives…for our peace is not in our surroundings or in our circumstances. No, remember, for the disciples, their circumstances got a lot harder after that. Their service for their Lord turned into a sacrifice of their very lives for their Lord. No, their tribulations got a lot harder…but their inner troubles…the ones that were like white-water on stormy seas, well, those turned into like a calm lake within their souls. And those doubting debates between their fanciful imagination and their faulty reasoning…that turned into blessed assurance based upon the rock-solid truths of God’s Words.
When Jesus walked into that room they were looking at themselves and each other, and they were troubled and doubting. It was only when they looked away from themselves and past each other and looked to Jesus that they found ‘peace’ and ‘assurance’. It’s like how Dr. Wiersbe often put it… “If you look to yourself, you’ll be discouraged. If you look to others, you’ll be distracted. But if you look to Jesus, you’ll be delighted!” Remember, just like with the disciples, you have to go outside of yourself to gain peace inside of yourself. You have to go to the source outside of your life in order to find truth for your life. The only source of peace and truth is Jesus Christ!
One of the most insidious lies of our enemy and one that is promoted relentlessly by our culture and our world is that the answers to life lie within ourselves…that a person should trust their own heart in all things. But nothing could be further from the truth! The wisest person who ever lived reminded us of this: Prov 28:26- “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.” NASU And the Prophet Jeremiah explains why we dare not trust our own heart: Jer 17:9- “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” NIV
When it comes to God’s truths, the human heart is completely deceived in false reasoning, and it cannot be cured. It has to be replaced. That’s why when we call for people to repent, we often put that in terms of giving their heart to Christ. It’s a call for them to turn their life over to Christ to be willing to follow Him, and also by faith to trust Him alone to save them, rather than trusting in their own works. And then He gives them a new heart…a new nature that is in union with His own nature, or His own heart. It’s like how Ezekiel described the ‘New Birth’ even in the Old Testament: Ezek 11:19-21- “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.” NASU
In the recent session in our Wednesday night Summer series of ‘The Chosen’, Jesus reminded Mary that all that He wants from us is our heart. How about that? It’s like God is looking over the whole world, looking to every person and saying, “All I want is your heart.” That comes right from Prov 23:26- “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.” NASU Each person has something that God wants…their heart. And just like the picture in Revelation 3:20 of Jesus standing at the door…standing at the door of a person’s heart, He is waiting for them to open the door…to invite Him in, to give Him their heart. And like Ezekiel reveals, after God come into our life and unites His heart, His life, His Spirit with us, He turns our repentance, or our willingness to follow Him into the ability to follow Him, a Holy Spirit empowered ability we never had before, ‘that we may walk in His statutes and keep His ordinances and do them.’
That, too, may even seem too good to be true, but it is, because it comes from the promise of the One who is the Truth, and is the Way, and is the Life. Have you ever given to Christ the one thing that He wants from you…your heart? Don’t keep Him waiting, waiting outside the door of your life. Invite Jesus in today…give Him your heart today, and He will make it a new heart, united to His own heart and life.
And then, like the disciples learned, they would need to look past themselves, past each other, past their daily troubles and trials in order to find the peace they needed to deal with the problems before them. They needed to look to Jesus and to listen to His words and let His promises and His truths rule in their minds and hearts. They needed to replace their habit of trusting in their own unrealistic imaginations and their faulty reasoning with a new habit…this habit: Col 3:15-17- “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” NASU
We have a faith-life that seems too good to be true, but it is. All of the foundational teachings of the Christian doctrines seem too good to be true, but they are. And the more that you review what is true and rest in what is true the more that peace will be with you.
So, in order to let the peace of Christ rule in our lives we have to let the words of Christ rule in our minds. For remember, both ‘Peace’ and ‘Truth’ are things not found in the heart of man or in humanity at all…both come from a Source outside of humanity…from the One who is both God and Man, Jesus Christ. Look to Jesus each day…listen to Jesus’ words each day…follow Him each day, and the peace which passes all human understanding will guard your heart and mind each day.