Peace Be Unto You

Luke 24:36‑53  •  22 min. read  •  grade level: 6
It is a blessed thing a beloved friends, when one can come with distinct authority from God, and say, “Peace be unto you.” It is the more striking because the Lord, unless anticipatively, never said it before He died and rose again, because He had not made peace.
The word peace is a very full and perfect word—far more so than joy. I may have joy, and yet many things may come in to trouble me at the same time; but if I have peace, there is no trouble. When God speaks peace, there is no disquiet left at all. Trouble there must be: “in the world ye shall have tribulation.” The disciples were in a great deal of trouble, they were losing Him who had said, “Fear not” and “let not your heart he troubled.” He was full of grace, tenderness, and mercy, but still He could not speak of peace till the time of His departure; but as soon as He was going away, His word was so full and complete, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” 1and when risen from the dead He comes and speaks of it as a present thing—peace with God, and peace from God; and remark, there was no ignorance in Him as to God’s requirement, no deception as to man’s state. He could say, “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the son of man which is in heaven.” He could tell to the full what heaven and God’s nature required, as well as what was in man; and knowing all perfectly, He could come to the poor ignorant disciples, and pronounce, “ Peace be unto you,”
It is a great thing to have it directly from the Lord Himself—not merely grace and loving-kindness, but peace.
Many souls have tasted the graciousness of Christ, and been attracted by it, who could not say they have “peace with God.” He sees all that we are—everything—our thoughts of course, long before—sees us thoroughly and completely, and yet we are in His presence without a veil!
Under the law such was not the case: then there was a veil—that which hid God from man; even the priests could not go into the presence of God, “the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.” (Heb. 9:88The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: (Hebrews 9:8).) The high priest alone went in once every year.
There was a law come out from God which required from Man, what man ought to be, hut God was hidden behind a veil. That is the state of the unconverted now; but many a converted man has still the thought that he has to look to the state he is in, and that there is a time coming when he will have to stand before God, and will then know how it will turn out with him. That is judgment, but not present peace. God does not now prescribe a course of conduct which will be judged when we come to Him; but reveals a present blessing, so as to bring the soul into His presence through the work of Christ.
It is not help I want—when I find my conscience in the presence of God, and all things naked and opened before Him. If I get there, I am there; and help will not do me then. The question is, what I am before God when I am there, and how I can stand before Him? We are all sinners, we have not kept the law, I speak now of the conscience in the presence of God. God knows everything about you: are you still insensible to your sin, still unawakened? You have not kept the law; it was made for the unrighteous, the law prohibits you from having a single evil desire. Do you love your neighbor as yourself? You know you do not, you do not feel the loss of your neighbor’s fortune as your own. Well, says the law, you are under a curse, that’s all! you are not loving your neighbor as yourself. Not one who reads this can say he is. This world. would be a kind of paradise, if men loved their neighbors as themselves, but they are not doing it.
The law tells you to love God with all your heart, but nobody loves God with all his heart—it is all a delusion to think it, and you do not love your neighbor as yourself. We have coveting in our hearts. The law comes and says, “cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” Ought I not to love my neighbor as myself? of course I ought. Conscience cannot reject the thing when it comes home to it, but it makes me understand that I am rejected for not doing it!
The more we look into this and at ourselves, the more we shall see that there is not a folly in the world we do not prefer to Christ when He is presented to our hearts. Every idle vanity set up to attract one in a shop, or in the street, has more power naturally over one’s heart than Christ; but Christ had to suffer for it all; and we have to learn to see that. I am speaking of the state of the hearts of those who call themselves Christians—not of those who outwardly reject Christ.
Take another way of looking at it: let an unawakened man be alone for two or three hours, and he will think, it may be of his cares, it may be of his pleasures; but he never thinks of Christ—never! Christ has no place at all in his heart.
When God is revealed the sinner sees there is a judgment coming, and says, How shall I get off? A person will often toil and labor to be better, but with all his toil he finds that evil desires are in his heart. He finds “ to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.” If he has got sin, and no strength, it is a bad look out for judgment! The question then is, not simply what he is, but what God is—he realizes God—the sinner brought into God’s presence sees God’s eye resting upon him, and has the consciousness that he must have what will cleanse him and make him fit for God.
It is no use looking for help, if I come to God: I want righteousness— not help. I have done too much sin in God’s presence to be helped! That is where God brings a man. I must have the matter settled with God—I must have a present righteousness.
The sinner sees God’s eye resting upon him, and if he has learned what he is in himself, he knows that he must have that which will cleanse him for God, and will give him peace in His presence, without lowering one bit the standard of God’s holiness. It is impossible he could say, or would wish to say, I wish God was less holy, that I might get to heaven—he has to do with God; he must be fit for God’s presence as He is. The effect of all this experience and exercise of heart is to bring him into God’s presence as a sinner, because he is one; and as a sinner to get peace with a God who will not have sin.
You must get to God just as you are. Whatever defilement there is in your heart God sees it all. It was so with the prodigal—when he set out on his journey he knew he was unfit to be owned as a son—what was the effect? He got into his father’s presence in his rags! It was not a question of help—he had been helped; but he was now quickened and awakened, and it brought him to his father just as he was—in his rags
This is always the case. The question now is simply this, How could he be in his father’s house, when he had wasted his substance in riotous living? Are you fit for God’s presence where He is, and as He is? If not you cannot have peace. You cannot cloud God’s nature and enter His presence if your conscience knows there is sin upon you—it cannot be. I do not say it ought not to be, but it cannot be.
The Lord knew, and understood the whole question, and He could come here amongst them, and give His disciples present peace because He had made it. They had been with Him—His companions. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” Peter had confessed Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the Lord had said to him, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven;” but still they had not peace. He comes in preaching peace to them; He does not keep it in His heart. Ought these disciples to have taken Him at His word, and said, Then it is peace? Of course they ought. It is evident when He said peace, they ought to have had peace. Not peace without God—no one ever had that, but peace with God, as He is, and known.
We are bound to believe it, because Christ has declared it—bound to believe it, because Christ has made it. Now let us see how He assures their hearts: it was a terrible moment to them, they had not understood His cross, all their Jewish hopes were dashed to the ground. It might have seemed all well when Christ was with them, to say, peace, but now He has gone. Yes, but He is risen from the dead, and it is blessed to see the gracious tender love of Christ, as well as His perfect work, to see how the risen Christ is as gracious, as tender, as near as He was when walking through this world. There might be a difference as to His having accomplished the work, but there is no difference as to His ways.
If you look at Christ here below, that which characterized Him was that He did not look for anything from the world; if He did so He might have stayed in heaven. He, looked for sinners, and there were plenty of them to be had in the world. He came, bringing the love of God into a world that had departed from God I He did not wait to come into the world till the day of judgment, because of what men were; but coming into a world of sin because of what they were. Christ came after God had turned man out of paradise, where God had set him, and he could not be with God where God is; therefore Christ came to find man where sin had put him. “To seek and to save that which was lost.” He never gives up that character—the very accusation his enemies brought against him was, “this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them,” but He said, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
In the 15th of Luke when they charged Him with this, He triumphantly insists that God will act in love in spite of man, and in three parables shows out that it was God’s joy to have the sinner back; it was the shepherd’s joy to get back the sheep; the woman’s joy to get back the money; the father’s joy to get back his son. The elder brother may complain, but he will do it for all that.
You learn this blessed truth, that (though the hour of judgment will surely come,) God always did and always will act in grace towards the sinner in the day of grace, let man scoff at it as he may. God will be Himself, let man be what he will.
Therefore in looking at the life of Christ on earth, that is what you see. The poor woman, in John 4 who had been using her energies seeking happiness, and finding misery, comes to draw water all alone borne down with sin, misery, and care, but finds at the well one person more lonely in the world than herself. There was not one so isolated; so without sympathy as the Lord Himself—there was not one heart that answered to His, even among His disciples. Still He was always thinking of them, because His love was ever ready to sympathize. And so He says to this poor woman, “if thou knewest the gift of God.” He told of the gift, and of the Giver” if thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink”—who it is that has come down so low, as to depend for a drink of water (though He created it) on a woman like you, you would have “asked of him and he would have given thee living water.” Then He opened her heart and conscience, as He always does; and when her conscience was reached, and she began to think of all, He then said, “I that speak unto thee am he,” and she ran off and told her neighbors, “ come see a man which told me all things that ever I did!”
He comes down to the sinners condition, and presents Himself in grace, where there is truth of heart to receive Him, you could not have met Christ without meeting goodness and holiness itself—He was holy enough to carry love to the most degraded without being defiled.
Well, the disciples were “terrified and affrighted,” but “He said unto them, why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.” I am just the same as to grace, “it is I myself; handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have, and when he had thus spoken he showed them his hands and his feet.” What He is pressing on them is I am the same Jesus now—just as gracious as ever I was.
If I can follow Christ through this world and see His goodness, seeking and saving that which was lost; well, I say, He is just the same Jesus now. He tells me, “handle me and see that it is I myself.” As to His person He is just the same, the same pierced side and wounded hands. I have got the same Christ I had all through, but now His work is accomplished, and this it is that gives peace.
What Christ seeks is the confidence of your hearts. He is winning back the confidence of man’s heart to the. God that man has wronged. It is exceedingly hard to trust the heart of one we have dreadfully wronged, therefore, you find Christ in the patient goodness that belongs to God alone, going in and out to get men to trust God.
Do you dare to trust in God thoroughly? Is your heart saying, I have sinned and wronged Him, but there is always love in His heart, I will go and confess to Him? Does your heart trust Him enough to tell Him every evil thing you can think of yourself, and to believe in His love and goodness Have you believed Him enough to say, I can trust Him, and tell Him everything?
The woman we read of in the seventh chapter of Luke, did not know when she came to Him that she was forgiven; but she loved much. Simon had a fine house, and thought he would invite the Lord to dinner, but he gave Him no water for His feet, and no kiss. This poor woman hears that Jesus was in the house—He was the One who had laid hold on her heart, and had eclipsed to her heart all the rest of the world. She did not know she was forgiven, but, she knew that the grace of Christ had won the confidence of her heart; and she had business there. She could not look up in the face of any honest man, but she could look into the face and trust the heart of the Son of God
If all that is in our hearts was brought out, we should be ashamed of ourselves; but there is One to whom we can tell everything, and trust Him, and that is the Son of God!
Have your hearts been brought to this? Can you say I have not loved my neighbor as myself, I have not had one right thought, I am a vile sinner, but I can go to Him—the risen Christ—as this woman went to the living Christ. He is just the same; “It is I myself.” I can go into His presence and trust Him, when I can trust no one else! That is the effect when once He is known in grace.
Now we get another truth; He has died upon the cross, He was made sin for us before He said peace, He died to make peace! He has lived and manifested God to sinners; He has died before God for sinners. If He comes to win the confidence of our hearts in grace, it is because He has Himself first put away sin from us, and established righteousness.
Where was God’s hatred of sin shown out so awfully and solemnly as at the cross? Not even the righteous judgment of the wicked will show it as the Son of God drinking that dreadful cup, and so drinking it that He nor we can never taste a drop of it more! On the cross the—whole thing was settled with God. “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26).) The bearing of sin was on the cross, He cannot bear sin now, the heart must get hold of that. No christian can say Christ has to do anything to put away sin now—He made peace by the blood of his cross; no wonder therefore we have peace! There is no possible hiding of sin now, no allowance of it, no screening of sin; and what is true now regarding the believer? He stands before God in virtue of the work of Christ, and is as white as snow!
He has not, to wait for, judgment, to know how it will be. Then he would have to cry “enter not into judgment with thy servant.” He has anticipated judgment, He has seen and known what the love of Christ is, and the cross itself is the proof of it. How the highest act of God’s grace testifies of our state, “God so loved the world that heave his only begotten Son.” Was not that God’s judgment against sin, the plainest testimony that God cannot bear sin? He has dealt with sin in putting it away. There was no allowance of sin on the cross—no hiding of it. God’s judgment against sin has been manifested. God does not hide sin, but judges it on the cross. The whole question as to sin, and in the truth of it, has passed between Christ and God there, according to God’s holiness and righteousness.
The sinner comes under the effect of that, and therefore Christ can say “Peace be unto you.” He knows that He has made peace, for He has borne the sin, and put it away; God has raised Him from the dead, and that is the witness and seal that He has accepted His work; and now he said, “Peace!” Here I am alive again, “Handle me and see that it is I myself.” He ate and drank with them with gracious consideration, to show them that He was just the same Jesus only with this difference, that since they lost Him, He had made peace with God!
“Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the scriptures, and said, thus it is written, and, thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” He sent them out to preach the gospel, because peace was made.
When I get conviction of sin, I see what an awful heart I have, and find that in my flesh dwells no good thing. But then I find He has made peace, and gives me rest of conscience with God.
Have you got rest in your soul with God? Not a rest that death will tell the tale of very soon; but rest in His love? How do you know the love of God? “Because he laid down his life for us,” that is the way I know it! Am I to doubt the efficacy of Christ’s work? Could you dare to say that God has not accepted it, and that your sins are neater than the value of the blood of Christ?
One word here. Many a soul will say, I do not doubt that Christ’s was a blessed work; but I doubt whether I have accepted it. It is all a mistake, the soul that says that, really has accepted it; but his misapprehension hinders peace. What wins the heart is the love of God that gave Christ; what gives peace is the righteousness of God that has accepted His work.
Suppose I had offended one of you, the person whom I had offended must accept my satisfaction, before I am forgiven. Has God accepted Christ’s satisfaction? I do not ask, have you accepted it? A simple soul who is anxious will say, I am only too happy to accept it, and will thank and praise God for it; but many souls are not simple, but very unsimple! The thing that gives peace is, that God has accepted Christ’s satisfaction; and the proof is, that He has set Him at His right hand as Man!
The apostle reasons in Heb. 10, that under the law the High Priest was standing offering sacrifices for sin; next year came round, and again a sacrifice because the sin was there, but Christ is seated. “This man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” That word “forever,” is full of strength—it means constantly, uninterruptedly—He sat down in perpetuity—He is always appearing for us—He is constantly our righteousness in the presence of God; so that we have no more conscience of sins.
There is no question then as to sin upon me, when I look up to God I see Christ sitting at His right hand. I cannot go to God without finding Christ there; I cannot find Christ there without knowing that I am cleansed from sin, and that I have been made “the righteousness of God in him.”
I say my heart is so bad there never was such a heart. God says, it is as white as snow! the effect of this is to raise the standard of our walk. If you are in the light, now walk according to that into which you have been brought. Let the world see Christ in you, you are not called to be the epistle of innocent Adam, or of lost Adam; you are “the epistle of Christ,” Christ is your life as well as your righteousness, and that is for your everyday walk.
A word here to show where Christ leaves us, while He has gone up on high. He showed the disciples that it was He Himself in the same grace as before, and told them “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem.” “And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.”
The Holy Ghost has come to be a power in us, and with us here; our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost; we are the sons of God; and He is the earnest of the glory. The presence of the Holy Ghost gives energy, wisdom, power. He is come; “I will send him unto you,” has been fulfilled. The Holy Ghost came when Christ went up on high—and never before—and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them; and it came to pass while be blessed them he was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” Mark the kind of association I have with Christ, the Man I have handled is now gone to heaven. Man? much more than man surely—God over all, blessed forever! but Man too! and I am looking unto Jesus, and what is He doing? why, blessing me! just there! with His hands stretched out in the act of giving the full blessing upon them, showing that He is for them, I have One in heaven who has made peace, a divine person, but a Man with His hands stretched out in blessing.
Blessed Mediator, shedding blessing, and giving me blessing, after peace is made: and while He has gone to heaven, I have to walk upon earth; that is where that Blessed One has left us. I am glad He is there, though longing to see Him. I depend on Him for grace as a living Saviour, there, because I believe in the peace that He made as a dying Saviour, here!
Do you believe He has made peace? Does your heart trust in His love? If I go to God, Christ is there; and I see Him with His hands outstretched to bless me, and I am only waiting, as He is waiting, until He comes to receive me unto Himself.
The Lord give, you to have your eyes upon Him, and to understand the ways of God in grace and blessing to you, in the blessed Son of Isis own love. Amen.
1. In the thirteenth to the seventeenth of John, He looks beyond the cross.