SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
April 23, 2006
Where Can We Find Peace?
Ecclesiastes 1:1-9; John 20:19-23
Key Verse: Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” – John 20:19
Waste no time debating the authorship of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Whether it was Solomon or Sam is not as important as what we may learn from the book. The book is in the Bible for a purpose. Very likely that purpose is to help us verbalize how most of us feel about life at one time or another.
Sooner or later most of us become so frustrated with life that we could scream. Life is hard. It is absurd. It is maddening. It can seem like a meaningless ride on a merry-go-round that is out of control. We want to get off but cannot find a way to stop the crazy thing. What does it all mean? Where will it end? Why must life be so boring?
These questions remind me of my wife’s cry at age 35. Looking at a huge pile of dirty diapers, and reeling from endless days of cooking and cleaning, she shook me to the depths with her desperate question, “Is there more to life than this? If there is, then you have got to help me find it.” She was thirsty for more than vanity. She was tired of “chasing the wind.”
Such desperate feelings we find in Ecclesiastes. Read these words about the monotony and meaninglessness of life and hopefully they will drive you to search for God! Surely this is what God desires – that our frustration with life will motivate us to seek and find the true meaning of life available only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Despair asks, “Is there nothing new under the sun?” John answers: “Yes, there is! There is new life in Christ Jesus!” John will not allow monotony and absurdity to have the last word. “You do not have to settle for emptiness when you can embrace the fullness of life offered you in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”!
We know, of course, that the Preacher never had the opportunity to talk to John. Had that happened, there is no doubt that John would have led the Preacher to fresh excitement about the joyous privilege of life at its best – new life in Christ.
The Preacher was right in his conclusion that one cannot find peace in the monotonous weariness of working, eating, drinking, and merriment. That is life without God. That is life without a spiritual dimension, life focused entirely on earthly desires as though people had no more value than animals.
John shows us the vibrant world of the Spirit. He tells us that peace comes from Jesus. Peace was a gift Jesus gave the disciples. They were weary and troubled by sorrow. Jesus quieted their hearts with peace, his peace. They came alive. They remembered his teaching and began to turn to the Holy Spirit as their only source of peace, life, joy, and meaning.
Jesus breathed on the disciples, filling them with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit within them began to overwhelm their despair and hopelessness. They saw life as a gift of the Spirit and one they had to share with others still living in darkness. No wonder Spirit-filled believers cry out in song, “I love to tell the Story for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.” Once we embrace the life of Jesus, we must go and tell others what we have heard, seen, and felt.
John knew the secret that the Preacher was dying to know – that dull, boring life becomes gloriously new when we yield to and receive the Holy Spirit. Life does take on new meaning. We no longer struggle to keep holy habits; we receive grace from the Spirit to live in continuous communion with Christ.
Holy Communion becomes more than a sacramental ritual on Sunday; we find that we can enjoy holy communion or blessed union with the risen Christ day by day, hour by hour. He becomes not a giant biblical figure we admire but our constant companion and guide. There can be long periods indeed of unbroken communion with our Savior.
So the choice is ours. We can join the Preacher in his lament or we can team up with John and receive the Spirit’s gift of peace. When that peace abides in our hearts, we can get off the world’s merry-go-round and find meaning in our days, even in those repetitious activities that often rob us of our peace. When Jesus is Lord, he gives us hope that God’s hidden purposes are being worked out even in the boring routine of our lives.
Mark concludes his gospel with the assurance that as the disciples went out preaching everywhere, the Lord was “working with them.” This is living evidence of the peace of Christ in our hearts – the inward conviction that we are not alone and that the Lord is working with us in things both small and great to accomplish his eternal purpose. When such peace is ours, monotony and meaninglessness cannot win. They are no match for the One who is alive within us!
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