A part of my weekly routine is walking three miles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I start about 6:10 a.m. This time of the year those walks are almost over before daylight.

I prefer to walk outside. "Why?" I like the feeling of actually going somewhere. I like the fresh air. I love to be outside. And it is a great time to ponder the "deep issues of life" and to ask "the mysterious questions of human existence." For example, Tuesday morning I was about a third of the way into my walk when I smelled the distinctive, overpowering odor of a skunk. Immediately, I asked one of those mysterious questions about life. My question: "How can skunks stand to live with each other?"

  1. Basically, we have two reactions to physical existence.
    1. Reaction one: "Life is good!"
      1. Advertisers love to use this reaction.
        1. Advertisers tell us that life should be good.
        2. Then they tell us that life will be good if we just buy their product (this car; this toothpaste; this "fun thing to do").
      2. In other words, if I cannot say, "Life is good!" it is my fault because Ido not have the right things.
    2. Reaction two: "Life stinks."
      1. Movie makers and television producers love to use this reaction.
        1. An common theme in too many movies is, "Life stinks!"
        2. A common theme in daytime dramas, talk shows, and television series is, "Life stinks!"
      2. We are told that if we honestly look at the ugly facts all around us, "Life stinks."
        1. Angry people are angry because life stinks.
        2. Depressed people are depressed because life stinks.
        3. Enraged people are filled with rage because life sinks.
        4. Life is not fair; life is not just; life is not kind; life stinks.

  2. Consider some statements Jesus made that are so familiar that many of you can think of them without thinking about them.
    1. Scripture # 1:
      Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
      1. Is that statement familiar to you?
      2. Have you ever used it?
    2. Scripture # 2:
      John 10:10 "... I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
      1. Is that statement familiar to you?
      2. Have you ever used it?
    3. Question: what do those statements imply to you?
      1. Do they imply that anyone who comes to Jesus will receive and experience the "life that is good"?
      2. Do they imply that anyone who comes to Jesus will never experience pain, frustration, struggle, or hardship again?

  3. Consider three situations that occurred in Jesus' ministry.
    1. The first situation is found in Luke 7:36-50.
      1. A Pharisee invited Jesus to come have a meal at his house.
      2. The Pharisee also invited the community's religious elite to come.
      3. While they were eating, a woman known by the community to be a sexually immoral woman (likely a prostitute) walked in uninvited.
      4. She went straight to Jesus, washed his feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, anointed them with perfume, and repeatedly kissed them.
      5. As this happened, the Pharisee (Simon) thought to himself, "If this man was a prophet he would know what kind of woman this is who is touching him."
      6. Jesus said, "Simon, let me talk to you," and Simon said, "Talk."
      7. Jesus said two men owned debts to the same man, one owed a huge debt and one owed a small debt.
        1. Neither man could repay his debt.
        2. So the man forgave both debts.
        3. Jesus asked, "Which debtor loved the man the most?'
        4. Simon gave the obvious answer: "The debtor who owed the most."
        5. Jesus said he was right, and compared the debtor who owed the most to the woman, and the debtor who owed the least to the Pharisee.
      8. Jesus then told the woman, "Your sins have been forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
        1. What does that mean?
        2. "You mean what does 'your sins have been forgiven' mean?" No.
        3. "You mean what does 'your faith has saved you' mean?" No.
        4. I am asking what does, "Go in peace," mean?
      9. What kind of peace would this woman have the first time one of her former lovers came to see her?
        1. "I know what your are."
        2. "The whole city knows what you are."
        3. "You know what you are."
        4. "What do you mean 'never again'?"
        5. Peace?
      10. Did the fact that Jesus forgave her and told her to go in peace mean:
        1. Every man and every wife in the community forgot what she used to do?
        2. She could go back to worship and no one lift an eyebrow?
        3. The Jewish religious community would welcome her with open arms praising her because she decided to redirect her life?
        4. Her life would suddenly be easy?
        5. Suddenly life would be simple, temptation would end, and everyone would be incredibly encouraging and helpful?
      11. Those who know much about real life in the real world among real people would say, "No, it did not mean those things."
        1. Then what did "go in peace" mean?
        2. If "life stinks" did not suddenly become "life is good," what did he mean?
    2. The second situation is found in Luke 8:43-48.
      1. A woman had hemorrhaged for twelve years.
        1. No one was able to heal her physical condition.
        2. She believed touching the fringes on the bottom of Jesus' robe would stop the hemorrhage.
          1. Numbers 15:38,39 commanded the Israelite men to wear fringes or tassels on the hem of their clothes as a reminder of God's commandments.
          2. Every generation of men were to wear these fringes.
          3. Jesus wore those fringes.
        3. I do not know how the woman did what she did.
          1. I do not know how a woman could fight through all that crowd of men and get close enough to Jesus to touch him, but she did.
          2. I do not know how she maneuvered to touch the bottom of his clothing without getting stomped, but she did.
          3. Immediately, when she touched the fringes, she was healed.
      2. With the multitude pushing and shoving, with countless people trying to touch Jesus as he passed, Jesus knew when someone with faith touched him.
        1. When she knew that Jesus knew something happened, she was terrified.
          1. First, as a woman in a man's world, she had no right to do what she did.
          2. Second, the fact that she had a hemorrhage made her unclean (Leviticus 15:25-30), and anyone who touched her was made unclean just by touching her--she was not even supposed to be in the crowd.
          3. No wonder she was terrified!
        2. You can imagine what she expect to happen when, trembling, she fell down in front of Jesus?
          1. She explained what she did and why.
          2. Jesus said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace."
      3. What did that mean? Go in peace?
        1. Do you think that the whole multitude applauded, or do you think some said, "Who does this woman think she is touching Jesus? What if she had made Jesus unclean?"
        2. Do you think instantly everybody and everything made life good?
    3. The third situation occurred the last night of Jesus' earthly life while he was with the twelve apostles in John 13-16.
      1. In hours he would be betrayed, arrested, denied, tried, and convicted.
      2. In less than twenty-four hours he would be dead.
      3. In twenty-four hours their leader would be in the tomb.
      4. Jesus made two statements to the twelve who followed and served him, men who thought that Jesus would become Israel's king in a matter of days.
        John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
        John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
      5. I am leaving you with peace? In me you have peace?
      6. Do you remember what happened to these men for preaching about Jesus after the resurrection? Peace?

  4. Does belonging to Jesus end injustice, unfairness, wrong treatment, and turn a person's life into the physically good life?
    1. No, and it never has.
      1. Jesus died on a cross, eleven of the twelve apostles were killed, Stephen was killed, persecution of Christians was common, and having faith in Jesus often resulted in hardship and struggle.
      2. Faith in Jesus did not solve the physical problems of the early Christians.
    2. Then what was the peace?
      1. The peace of knowing God's forgiveness.
      2. The peace of having your guilt destroyed.
      3. The peace of living in the mercy and grace of God every day of your life.
      4. The peace of being loved by Jesus and God.
      5. The peace of knowing the injustice and unfairness of this world cannot exist in eternity.
      6. When our faith is firmly fixed in Jesus, because he forgives us, we can go through life in peace. Our peace exists because he overcame the world.

[Prayer: God, help us understand that the peace Jesus gives is something far superior to having our physical desires granted. Help us stop looking for our peace in the things of this world. Help us find peace in our relationship with You. Help us find peace in Your mercy and Jesus' forgiveness.]

Tuesday morning, shortly after I smelled the skunk, in the dim light of a streetlight I saw something shining on the sidewalk. In that light it looked like a big, heavy, silver, ring. I walked past it, but coming back I thought, I ought to check that out. I stopped, reached down, picked it up. As soon as I touched it I knew it was not what it appeared to be. It was just a worthless aluminum bottle cap.

As we live in this world, things tell us that they are of great worth. But when we pick them up, we discover they are not what they appear to be.

The peace Jesus gives us is not found in things or in physical circumstances. His peace is found in God's mercy and Jesus' forgiveness.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 15 October 2000

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