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April 6, 2020

The Coronavirus and the Prince of Peace

I’m going to be honest – this week, I’m tired in a way I haven’t been.  We are going on week three of stay-at-home orders, and while everything in our world has changed, absolutely nothing in my world changes on a day-to-day basis. 

I get up, spend prayerful time in God’s Word, make breakfast, do dishes, start household chores, make sure all the people do all the things required for homeschool, make lunch, do dishes, finish up homeschool, squeeze in some writing, touch base with family members or friends via a call, text, wave, or conversation on the street six feet apart, make dinner, do dishes (have I mentioned that I wash a lot of dishes?), and then go to bed only to wake up and do it all over again.

It’s like Groundhog Day but with the world falling apart on your doorstep. 

But this week, in the midst of all that is the same, one thing is radically different: Easter is coming.  We remember the cross on Friday and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday.  And while everything in our lives is the same and shut down, one thing remains consistently open – the empty tomb.  Our hearts have access to its promise and its power every single moment of every single day.

This is a hope and truth I am looking forward to drawing courage and strength from every single day this week.

I know we’d all like to be delivered from our locked houses this week.  We would all love to go outside and watch our kids hunt Easter eggs with cousins and neighbors.  We would all love to run up to the grocery store, glove-free, and buy candy elbow-to-elbow with the person standing in line next to us.  We would all love to attend a big family brunch or dinner and see the faces and hug the necks of the people we know and love so well. We would all love to put on our Easter clothes and drive to church on Sunday morning and enter a packed building with the people of God and celebrate His power and goodness together.

But while we cannot do any of those things this Easter, while we cannot exit the locked doors of our houses, we can ask Jesus to help us exit from the locked doors of our hearts.

In Luke 5:17-26, an account is given of Jesus healing a man who is a paralytic.  His friends lower him through the roof in order to gain access to Jesus, and as the man lays in front of Him, Jesus says, “’Man, your sins are forgiven you’” (Luke 5:20).  The scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, are infuriated by such a statement.  They “began to question, saying, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Luke 5:21)

Exactly.  Great question.  Actually, that’s the question: who can forgive sins except God?  To say to a man with locked legs on a mat, “Get up,” is one thing.  But to say to a man with a locked heart, full of sin, sorrow, pain, and death, “Get up,” is quite another.  The first requires a man under the influence of God; prophets from the past like Elijah had performed miracles of healing before.  But the second requires a man who is God.  Only God can wipe the slate of a person’s past free and hand them the key to exit the prison of sin, hell, and death. 

But that’s exactly what Jesus did.

“When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts?  Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Rise and walk”?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – He said to the man who was paralyzed – ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’  And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God” (Luke 5:22-25).

Jesus’ message was this: God can use anyone He chooses to heal lame legs.  But God Himself is the only one who can heal lame hearts. 

God Himself is the only one who can go behind the locked doors of our sin, shame, guilt, mistakes from our past, and fears for our present and future, and say to our hearts, “Get up, and walk.  You are a slave to sin no more.”

That’s the message I am dwelling on this week.  And that’s the message that is giving me hope.  In a way, I am so thankful for all of the locked doors in our land.  The locked doors are forcing each and every one of us to get quiet, be still, and take a good, long look at the locked doors of our own hearts. 

Because we all have them.  We have all been infected by this virus of sin, even if we have not been infected by corona.  Any human doctor God so chooses can give us a cure to the corona virus.  But only one person can give us the cure to the virus of sin.  And that’s the virus we all need healing from.

If you feel locked down by the sin in your past or by the fear in present and future, then hear this today: there is no locked door in your past, present, or future, that Jesus cannot unlock.  When Jesus rose from the dead, His disciples were huddled together in a locked room, full of fear.  They were so afraid the authorities were going to do to them what they had done to Jesus – torture, crucifixion, and death.

But Jesus appears among them and goes right through the locked door in their hiding place. His first message to His disciples post-resurrection is this: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).  Not peace from their circumstances – the threat of persecution and death from the authorities was still very real.  But peace in their circumstances – peace with God, peace from their sin, and peace in their relationships with one another.

Would it have been easy for Jesus to circumvent the cross and conquer the Roman rulers of His day, placing Himself on Jerusalem’s throne as king over the whole world, instituting world-wide “peace”?  Absolutely.  But people still would have been ravaged by the disease of sin.

It was far more difficult to do what Jesus did.  In order to give His people peace from their sin in and through every circumstance, He offered Himself as their sacrificial lamb on the cross.  And because of that, we have peace that can never be taken away. 

It ‘s a peace that goes behind every locked door and provides the key to unlock every heart.  Jesus’ peace rules over every virus, every fear, every circumstance, even death itself.  Because of the peace He gives, death no longer has the final say over us.  The peace of Christ does.  And when we take our final breath, He will take us home to be with Him. 

That, my friends, is peace. 

As strange as it sounds, this corona virus is a gift.  It’s a gift that locks the doors to our homes so that we can get real about the doors of our hearts.

If you have never given your life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, today is the day.  Jesus has come to deliver you from the consequences of your sin and death to give you peace with God, eternal life, and relationship with Him. 

If you have already surrendered your life to Christ, then take the time to let Jesus in to every locked door in your heart.  What is keeping you from experiencing real, intimate joy and peace?  Are you numbing out to responding to His voice and receiving His peace by watching the news, looking at screens, monitoring your bank account, reaching for food or alcohol, searching for toilet paper and paper towels, and being consumed by the worries and cares of this world (see Luke 21:34-36)?

This week, do the hard but necessary work of letting Jesus in.  Take your eyes off of your circumstances and turn them onto the Prince of Peace.  Receive His Holy Spirit that walks through every wall, forgives every sin, calms every fear, and heals every heart for those who are willing to humble themselves and seek His Face (John 20:22; Psalm 24:3-6).

So while each and every day is the same, with Jesus in our midst, each day has the hope of being different.  Each day offers the hope of the One who did the hard work of achieving peace with God so that we could have eternal relationship with Him.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you….Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:18-20, 27

For more encouragement throughout the week, follow me on Instagram @baker.susannah