Peace Brother!

Jesus. . . Our Peace

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

The parable of the Sower is one of the gardening parables that Jesus told. I thought that maybe a good way to introduce it would be to share some gardening tips with you.  They’re called “Top Ten Things I Have Learned from Gardening”. As you listen to them, just think about how they relate to your life.
10.We really do “reap what we sow”.  Good seeds bear good fruit.
9. Without rains and storms there is no growth – no fruit is produced.
8. When weeding, be careful! Some of us can’t always tell the difference between a nasty weed and a beautiful flower.
7. Deep roots are a good thing. Without them, we’ll wither and die.
6. Pruning and trimming, as painful as it seems, actually works to our advantage.
5. In gardening, as in life, cheating doesn’t work.  Short-cuts, slipshod efforts, and neglect always show up in the quality of our garden.
4. Like anything worthwhile, beautiful gardens require attention, hard work, and commitment.
3. We can’t rush the harvest. Bearing fruit takes time and patience. Premature fruit is almost always sour.
2. Gardening and growing is a lifetime experience.  We can experience growth and beauty until the day we die.
1. Fertilizer happens!  In fact, nothing much grows without it.
Some food for thought there.  But Jesus has much more for us in his parables than just tips for our lives. He has some food for our souls and good news for our lives.  He sows his word in our hearts.  And when we have this word we can have security and have good reason to believe that life is worthwhile.
So this morning thinkof the seed of his word as being Jesus’ word of peace to us.  Jesus came into the world to personally bringthat peace to us.  The whole purpose of his preaching and teaching, his life, death and resurrectionwas to bring peace to troubled hearts, minds and bodies.
We can picture him as the Sower in the field. The seed that he sows is his Word – the word of peace.  We need that word, because it gives us forgiveness for the past, comfort for the present, and confidence for the future.
The sower sows his seed.  Jesus comes to us and sows his word of peace in our hearts. He says to us today: Peace be with you.  But Satan intervenes and tries to get us to doubt it.
“Peace isn’t for you” he says.  “God doesn’t mean you.  You don’t deserve it.  Your sins are too great.  You’re not the kind of person that can have that peace.  You’ve got to try a bit harder in your life, pray a bit more, do a lot more, help more people.  Maybe someday you’ll be able to have peace.  But not now.  Not the way you are now.  You’ve got to make a lot of changes in your life before you can have peace with God.”
And so the peace of God can be stolen from us, just like seed is snatched up from the hard ground by birds.  Satan can put so many doubts and questions into our minds, and try to make us believe that we’re not worthy of receiving God’s peace. He tries to snatche that word of peace away from us – and when he does, we have no peace.
The sower sows the seed.  Jesus speaks his Word to us.  Peace be with you, he says.  We know we need it and so we take hold of it.  But we don’t always let it penetrate deep down.  We keep God and his Word from taking over our lives completely. We add his peace to our lives but only like the latest coat of paint on an old wall.  It covers, but it’s only superficial.
And when this is the case God’s peace doesn’t take root.  It doesn’t really change us.  It may soothe and pacify us at times, but it never really gets to the heart of the problem – which is the problem of the heart.
It’s like a pat on the back or a supportive smile from someone – good and needed, but not enough to bring real and lasting relief from the problems we face.  It might look okay on the surface, but underneath there’s nothing to support it – there’s no solid foundation.  It’s like seed that falls on rocky ground.  It grows quickly for a start, but when there’s real pressure put on it, it withers, because it has no deep roots.  And when this is the case, there is no peace.
The sower sows the seed.  Jesus speaks his Word to us.  Peace be with you, he says.  We want to have this peace, but we take it and throw it into the pot of our lives together with everything else that we believe is important and significant for us.  And in the process the special quality of peace is diluted and looses its unique flavour.
We want to believe that Christ’s peace is vital for us, but then, lots of other things are important too – like our families, our homes, our jobs, our property, time, promises we make, obligations we have, responsibilities we’ve committed ourselves to.  There’s just so much else in life that we find that can crowd out God’s peace.  We become so engrossed with wishes, wants, and hopes of what we would like to have, that we push God’s Word of peace further and further into the background.
The desire, and the pressure we have on us, to get and to have other things, chokes out God’s peace, just like a plant is choked out when it grows among weeds and thorns.  And when this is the case, there is no peace.
The sower sows the seed.  Jesus speaks his Word to us.  Peace be with you, he says.  He continues to sow it in our hearts, because he knows we need it.  He doesn’t give up on us.  He comes again and again.  We need this peace if we want to be able to survive in this world, and to have any confidence about living and dying.
Our faith isn’t always as strong as it could or should be, but we can still have peace.  We can have it because Jesus was planted for us into the tomb.  He got to the very bottom, the very core, of the problem of our sin and weeded it out, roots and all.  Now we have a solid foundation on which to build our lives, because he’s provided it for us.  We’re planted securely in him who is Lord over life and death, who’s won the victory over sin, Satan and hell for us.  Because of him there is peace.
In him we have a sure hope and confidence both for the present and the future, because he’s put to death the power of the weeds and the thorns in this world.  And when we live and grow in him, we can be sure that we won’t be choked out by them.  He guarantees and preserves our growth, because we belong to him.  He is our peace.
This peace doesn’t take away all the concerns and worries and temptations that we have.  In fact there may be times when the conflict in our lives is even increased because of our belief in Jesus.  But having Jesus as our Saviour enables us to face our problems and to be confident that we have the strength to cope with them and battle against them.
This peace enables us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and share his peace with others.  It enables us to share whatever we have with those in need.  It enables us to follow him, even to death.  It enables us to call to him constantly in prayer, and to know that God will not and cannot abandon us.
He puts us at peace with him even in a world full of strife.  He comes to us and stays with us.  He says “Don’t be afraid, I am with you always”.
Jesus is our peace, and he gives us peace. He’s overcome sin, Satan and death, and has risen from the grave to live within us forever.  And because of his presence within us, we have the assurance that we’re acceptable to him, and we can go forward confidently in our day to day living, giving a vital witness to others of the peace that we have in him. Peace be with you.  Amen.
Pastor Mark

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