Lessons for April 27, 2014

Christ Gives Us Peace and Proof

God’s Word for This Week

In the face of doubt, Christ gives us proof and peace. To the doubting disciples, he gave certain proof that led to certain peace. Through his Word and sacraments, Jesus gives the same proof to all people of all time. “Peace be with you,” said our Lord. Then he sent his people forth with this message of peace based on the proof of his resurrection.

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

Here are a few questions to consider from this lesson that explore the peace and proof we have. (Some more exploration and possible answers to the questions can be found at the end of the post.)

What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed?

What do the words quoted from Psalm 16 teach us about death?

 

Acts 10:34a, 36, 39-43

Then Peter began to speak:  “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Here is a question to consider from this lesson that explores the peace and proof we have. (Some more exploration and a possible answer to the question can be found at the end of the post.)

How did new Christians receive the blessing of proof from Christ’s Easter resurrection appearances?

 

1 Peter 1:3-9

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Here is a question to consider from this lesson that explores the peace and proof we have. (Some more exploration and a possible answer to the question can be found at the end of the post.)

What does Peter mean when he says we have a "living hope"?  (verse. 3)

 

John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Here are a few questions to consider from this lesson that explore the peace and proof we have. (Some more exploration and possible answers to the questions can be found at the end of the post.)

What greater meaning did the common greeting, "Peace be with you!", take on when spoken by Jesus that first Easter evening?

What comfort was gained when Jesus showed the nail marks?

What did Thomas confess?

 

 

ANSWERS

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed?

Peter said that those works were God's certification that Jesus came from God and did God's work.  Those works bore witness that Jesus' message was God's message.  They attested to the fact that he was the promised Messiah. As David, we too can be filled with joy and hope confident that God will not simply leave our bodies to decay in the grave.  We are one of God's "holy ones" certain of the joys of eternal life.

What do the words quoted from Psalm 16 teach us about death?

Our attention is once again directed to the empty tomb.  While many religions hold out a hope of either blessings here on this earth or in the hereafter to their hearers, that hope is acquired as one earns them.  Thus, one can never be sure and their hope is tainted.

Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” However, Jesus had good reason to let the disciples see him with their own eyes: they were to be his witnesses. When Peter stood before the crowds on Pentecost, we see the purpose for all the resurrection appearances of Jesus. He showed himself to them; he ate and drank with them; he let them touch his flesh and bones; he showed them his holy wounds. Jesus let them see and touch because they weren’t just looking for themselves. No, these eleven would be the witnesses of the bodily resurrection of Christ for all ages. Through the eyes of these eleven men, God gives his Church the gift of proof and the gift of peace.

Acts 10:34a, 36, 39-43

How did new Christians receive the blessing of proof from Christ’s Easter resurrection appearances?

The Gentile believers to whom Peter spoke had never seen the risen Lord. But Peter had; Peter had watched Jesus eat and drink; Peter had touched and felt his risen body. God had made his disciples both apostles and witnesses of the resurrection so that they could provide proof for the Gentiles. They were sent to give this proof and proclaim Christ’s peace to these new Christians who fulfilled Jesus’ promise to Thomas: they had not seen, but yet they believed.

1 Peter 1:3-9

What does Peter mean when he says we have a "living hope"?  (verse. 3)

A Christian's hope is a "living hope" because it is founded on Christ, our Savior, who has conquered sin and death, and has given us the sure promise of eternal life.

John 20:19-31

What greater meaning did the common greeting, "Peace be with you!", take on when spoken by Jesus that first Easter evening?

Peace was one thing the disciples did not have. They had questions, concerns, and doubts. But they had no peace that Easter evening as they huddled behind locked doors. Jesus was dead—killed on a Roman cross—and now fear held them in its icy grip. They lacked more than peace of mind; the disciples also lacked any peace of spirit. Shame hung heavy on their shoulders. Grief and guilt weighed down their hearts. They had great doubts about their Lord, their lives, their salvation. But then Jesus came! In the face of all their doubts he offered proof that he was alive and sin was dead. Jesus showed them his nail-marked hands and riven side. These holy wounds are the proof positive that God is at peace with us. Thomas could be the poster child for our existential culture. No matter how many times the others told him about the resurrection, he set himself against them all. Thomas required more evidence. He must see him with his own eyes; he must touch the wounds—more than that, he must thrust his hand into Jesus’ side (cf. the coarseness of the Greek). Unless he got the evidence that he demanded, he would in no way ever believe it. What grace we see in Jesus! He comes again and repeats Thomas’ objections nearly word for word. Again, he gives the ultimate proof that he was alive, and sin was dead. Jesus gave the proof that led to peace for Thomas, peace that could only be found in his Lord and his God.

What comfort was gained when Jesus showed the nail marks?

It absolutely proves that he wasn't a ghost.  The nail marks also were a visible reminder of the forgiveness that was theirs through Christ.

What did Thomas confess?

After having struggled with doubt earlier, he now boldly confessed that Jesus is the one true and eternal God.  Thomas confessed that Jesus was indeed his gracious Savior.  Jesus had overcome the doubt and unbelief of Thomas.