Peace: Communion Reflections
May 2nd, 2021
Has your heart ever been troubled? Have you ever been scared about something? Been concerned or uncertain? Maybe a bit worried? Or have anxiety?
Back when I was in grade 11, so about 23 years ago now, I had something that caused me to have fear. It was an afternoon like any other. I was walking home from school like I would any other day. I had only been going to that school for a few months as my family moved halfway across the city, roughly the distance of Hanover to Walkerton. By coincidence, on the walk home, I crossed paths with a guy from my old school that was on the other end of the city. He did not know where I moved to and had no idea that I would be there at that time. But what he did know is that he didn’t like me, and for whatever reason, he had a score to settle. And this was in the day when wearing army boots, black leather jackets, and dog collars was the in thing…. And this dude who was the better part of 6’4 decided that as I was walking down a walkway between two buildings, that he was going to come running at me. I turned around and stood there as he planted his army boot square in my chest. By the grace and protection of God, I didn’t fall… which then caused him to run.
After the attack, I remember how much fear I had. For a few days, I did not want to walk home because this guy knew where I lived. And even as time passed and I began to feel safer, I still was always looking over my shoulder. And if I saw someone down the street who looked like they were wearing a dark jacket, I would feel fear.
And because the police got involved with dealing with the attack, I had to go to court to testify against him. And I remember the fear when I saw him sitting in the hallway outside the court room, and all the anxiety that filled my heart and mind.
Concern, fear, worry, and anxiety are things that we all experience at some time or other. Is your heart troubled today?
The disciples even had ‘troubled hearts’. There were things that bothered them. Prior to Jesus death:
a. Jesus gathers them for a final Passover supper.
b. During the supper He shares that He will be going away from them. Can you picture their anxiety? Their teacher, their leader who they devoted three years of their life to was now leaving them. What would happen next?
c. He breaks bread and pours the cup as a symbol of His impending death, and talks about his death that is about to come.
d. John 13:21 says that Jesus was troubled in spirit as he talked.
e. He says that one of the disciples will betray him. Peter asks John to ask Jesus who it could be as they all wonder.
f. He tells Peter that he will deny Jesus 3X after Peter pledges his allegiance to Jesus.
This was not an easy dinner conversation. On top of that, Jesus knows what is about to happen to all of them in the coming hours, days, weeks, and months. It is out of this that Jesus speaks the following words:
Jesus says to them: don’t be troubled. Paraphrased, He says:
Don’t be afraid, anxious, worried, uncertain, concerned, or on edge. Yes, what is coming wont be easy. I know what you are about to face, and I know what you are thinking even right now, and I know things will be hard. But don’t be discouraged by all that is going on and will happen. Instead, keep believing in God, and believe in me! Keep your eyes on me. Everything I am about to face is so that I can give to you a life beyond compare in Heaven, for eternity, with Me and My Father. Through what I am about to go through, I am going on ahead to get ready your place, your room in God’s big house. Don’t get caught up in the worries of the here and now. Don’t get caught up in what could happen. Instead, know that I am the way to life. I am the way to eternity. I am the way to God.
The lesson to us is that when we are living life with God, and living Jesus’ life through us, with life in Heaven before us, the things around us suddenly begin to lose their value. We know that as difficult as things get here, this life isn’t it. Yet even when everything around us seems to be falling apart, and even in the face of incredible difficulty, somehow we can still have hope because of what is to come.
Last week I talked from the very next chapter in John about being connected to the Vine, and finding life because we grow out of the Vine. When we understand, accept, and receive that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and that no one comes to God except through Him, we are connecting ourselves to life in the Vine. In that Vine, even when things seem uncertain, chaotic, frightening, stressful, anxious, and concerning all around us, because of what Jesus did for us through His death on the Cross and His rising from the dead, through Him beating the power of darkness, evil, and death itself, we have the hope of a life yet to come that continues on and can not be taken away from us. We do not need to let our hearts be troubled.
Jesus says in John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
As we take communion in a moment, it is a statement that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is a statement that He is the Vine and we are the branches. And it is a statement that because of the hope of eternity in Heaven that He gives us, we do not need to let our hearts be troubled here, knowing that nothing here can change what is waiting for us on the other side in the presence of our God and Father.
So this morning, ask yourself this question as we prepare for communion: Where is your heart troubled today? And where do you need to embrace, accept, and receive the life of Christ, the life in the Vine today?