"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. " (Rom 6:5)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," (1 Pet 1:3)
It's resurrection day, the day where Christians celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead, thus finalizing the redemption of His church. Christ did not merely say He was dying for our sins, and ask us to trust Him. He validated His trustworthiness through conquering death, thus all who are united with Him share in the blessed rewards of His labors. On Good Friday Lisa and I read a sermon by Jonathan Edwards on the passage "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you." (John 14:27) In Edwards' sermon he describes the peace which Christ promised to leave as a sort of will, a will to into effect upon His death (see Heb 9:17). Many different aspects of the peace can be noted, but the one I want to hit upon is death.
Death troubles all men for all men, for all men will die. Edwards notes that the only peace that an unconverted sinner can have surrounding death and God is to suppress the thought of them. Don't think seriously about your mortality and definitely don't give any serious thought to standing before God, suppress these thoughts (via tv, music, sex, idle chatter etc). This is in contrast to the believer who is in union with Christ. For the believer Christ has died for him, He has suffered wrath in his place. Thus the fear of death has lost its sting, and he may approach the throne of God boldly in the righteousness of Christ. The believer is free to think of death, for "Death where is thy sting" (Rom 8) and "To die is Gain" (Phil 1:21). Thus the believer can look upon these in the light and have peace where the unbeliever must remain in darkness to maintain a sort of peace.
The peace of the unbeliever says Edwards is like "The ease and pleasure that a drunkard may have in a house on fire over his head." This is a miserable state of self delusion. One may think of the avenues of securing peace that men pursue such as obtaining riches. It is immensly grievous when we see TV preachers calling people to Jesus in the name of securing a worldly estate, for they prey right on mans desire of peace, offering them a placebo (riches) when the sole antidote lies in the death and resurrection of Christ. These call men to as Christ described "build bigger barns" so that they may take rest (Lk 12:18-20), this is foolishness Christ says, for they ignore the weighty matter of peace, namely peace with God.
So, in Christ the believer has a firm foundation. Death has lost its sting and indeed is a blessing. Whereas the worldling is left to only suppress thoughts and deceive himself that all is well creating a false peace which will inevitably be overthrown.
The last aspect of the peace which Christ has left His people I want to look at is their being satisfied in Him. The worldling is left to seek joy in that which does not ultimately satisfy:
"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food."
This is definatly where I agree with Anselm and his view on sin as being a blow to the honor of God. For sin says that God is not satisfying and to be desired thus I will turn elsewhere this is great evil. For that which men abandon is infinitely satisfying, whereas what they turn to is at best a temporal joy. As Jeremiah writes:
"for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jer 2:13)
But the believer knows where the fount of joy is, as Christ promised "He who drinks of the water that I shall give Him will never thirst..." (John 4) This fountain of satisfaction is both now and not yet. It transcends death in its promise of blessing, thus again to die is gain. Here is a joy that can not be taken away irregardless of circumstance come death or imprisonment. This indeed is great peace which Christ has left us. For as it is promised that those who partake in His death will share in His resurrection. Christ has completed in full the redemption of His church, thus she can have great peace for the Lord is risen, securing her salvation and eternal joy.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." (Isa 43:2)
(Sunrise on the Red River from "Nature Images" from photographer Paul Brown)