Message: ‘Before you hit the panic button’
Text: Luke 24:36-43
Introduction: PP: Pastor Michal Deutsch tells the story of a photographer who was assigned to get photos of a forest fire. Because there was too much smoke, he hired a plane so he could fly over the forest. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in and said, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” The pilot received clearance and took off.
The photographer looked out the window and said, “Fly over the north side of the fire and make three or four low level passes.”
Now that’s the time to panic. But let’s make this a little closer to home.
PP: The coronavirus has hit the US and confirmed cases are on the rise.
PP: The stock market has lost 25% of it’s value. For those of you who have any retirement funds in the stock market… your hearts and minds are running rampant…
PP: Schools close, day care’swill follow soon after that. What do working parents do with their children?
PP: Lines in the supermarkets are long and shelves empty.
PP: Large scale events are being cancelled or postponed such as: Professional sports, concerts,cruises and conferences.
PP: Next Slide
Panic, we’re in the midst of a world wide panic over the Coronavirus.
We live in a time of great uncertainty, of a deep fear of what the future, our future may hold.
Some, when they panic become unglued, others become withdrawn and feel powerless.
But before we choose to hit the panic button, hear this:
But listen to this closely:
Instead of living in fear, in despair, in confusion and panic,
Instead of running on our emotions that tell us that our situation is more than we can handle, we can choose NOT to trust our emotions, our feelings.
Listen, in Christ, we are never alone, we are never powerless, we are never w/o hope and yes, we can even choose to live inpeace… rather than choose to live in panic.
Listen to how the Psalmist put it: PP: Psalm 121:1-5, 8 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep…The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Christian, God infinitely loves you. You are His beloved child.
Let that be the foundation of your peace!
Now.. with that said, we need to take some practical steps… Remember we are still in the world, but not of it.
In the Bulletin are some basic practical steps we all can do to stay healthy; individually and as a church community.
Transition: Today in our text we’ll discover that we’re not the only ones prone to panic when the world around us just doesn’t make sense.
1. Luke 24:36-37 Panic sets in
PP: As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.
ILL: PP: There was a movie in 2002 starring Jodi Foster called ‘Panic Room’ where she plays a wealthy single mom with a teenage daughter. They buy a fancy brownstone in NYC that has a ’panic room’, a fortified hi-tech room in the center of the house where you can go if you’re in danger. (Howard Chapman)
In other words, it’s a room in your house where you feel safe… from anyone outside who might want to do you harm.
That’s where we find Jesus’ disciples and some other close followers. BUT, is that where they should have been?
Look, these disciples knew Psalm 91:1-2 which says: PP: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most Highwill abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
In John 20 we’re told that the disciples were hiding out in fear of the Jews. The doors were locked, the windows were closed.
PP: Next Slide
Notice, that when Jesus appears to them, their fear turns to panic.
These words, startled, frightened, troubled and doubting are all very strong words in the Greek.
In the modern vernacular, PP:they were freaked out! Make no mistake, the disciples were in panic mode.
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In a room full of people who were afraid, who were anxious, who were confused, who were in panic mode, what are Jesus’ first words to them?
This is.. I don’t know how to describe just how huge this is.
Instead, He said exactly what they needed to hear, what their hearts and minds so desperately craved… PEACE…
Yes, their crisis was real, their circumstances were overwhelming, but there was another choice, another option rather than panic… peace.
Christian, are you hiding from something? Have you locked yourself away for fear of what someone might think.. even what Jesus might think?
That’s your panic room, where you feel somewhat safe, because you’ve shut out those that could see through your façade. Butlisten.. Jesus is there, crying out ‘Peace to you.’
2. Luke 24:38-40 Look to Jesus
PP: Luke 24:38-40 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
After Jesus says Peace to you, He asks them why they weren’t already experiencing that peace? And He actually answers it: they were troubled and they had doubts about Him.
He was making how they felt… public. Because it’s only there that it can be properly dealt with.
In effect, Jesus is saying… look I know you are doubting Me… what I’ve said and promised.
Look at me… look at My hands and My feet. Open your eyes… and look at me.
Jesus was giving them not only proof that He was raised from the dead, but that He was actually present with them.
Look, Christian, Jesus loves you… infinitely and unconditionally.
Folks look, we all have occasional doubts about Jesus, our faith and even God’s Word. But know that you’re in good company:
Christian, God is not offended, threatened or even upset by your doubts. But, let me define doubt from a biblical perspective: PP:International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: “doubt does not indicate a lack of faith, but a state of ‘qualified faith”: it’s weakness, but not it’s absence.” (Brian Bill)
Doubt seeks to get more information… which is why Jesus told His disciples… I know you are doubting Me…
In the midst of panic, Jesus wants us to look at Him
3. Luke 24:41-43 Fellowshipwith Jesus
PP: And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them.
ILL: The phone rings. “Another telemarketer,” I grumble to myself. “Hello, Mr. Mills? This is Robert Jones with the Reader’s Digest. I’m calling to tell you that you have just won our $5 million sweepstakes!” “Yeah, sure!” Click! (Steve Cole)
Sometimes we feel that some good news is just too good to be true. Right?
That’s how the disciples felt, when Jesus showed up in the room they were hiding in and spoke to them. That’s what the phrase
They were excited on the outside, but on the inside felt this was just too good to be true.
So, to help them stop doubting, He seeks fellowship with them… that’s the whole Have you anything here to eat? thing.Eating with them would serve two purposes:
First: To further prove it really was Him… a ghost, spirit wasn’t flesh and bones and can’t eat. He had been raised from the dead. It was Jesus.
Second, it also served the purpose to show that when we doubt Jesus or God’s Word, we need to spend time, fellowship with Him.
You see, we usually do the exact opposite. When we have doubts about Jesus, faith or God’s Word, we stay away from Jesus and the Church.
Jesus is telling us that if we truly want peace, if we truly want to rise above the fear, the confusion, the anxiety and panic around us…
And we do that through God’s Word, through reading and studying the Bible, through prayer, worship and service.
And as an aside, I think it tells us that we can see Jesus when we spend time with each other… in worship, yes, but also in fellowship.
PP: Next Slide
Conclusion: So, are you freaking out? Are you living in panic mode? Are you…close? I’m really fighting it.
God is bigger than our 401K, He’s bigger than the stock market, God is bigger than the Coronavirus!
And every day, now, I’m intentionally choosing peace, over panic.
Because, to be honest, the alternative is just not acceptable.
I’m placing my trust, my future in the very capable hands of my Lord, Jesus. And so far, while it’s a struggle everyday,
I am refusing to hit the panic button. And instead, I’m holding on to Jesus, and to His peace.