John 14:27; 16:33
There’s not a lot of Scripture to read today, because I want us to focus just for a moment on this one word—peace—and what our Savior is telling us about it in these two verses. I’m really reluctant to pretend like I’m adding anything to them, but here are my thoughts:
• He’s leaving us, at least physically. His physical body is not here, but he’s leaving something behind: peace. And how? How can he guarantee this? Well, the verse prior to 27 tells us: His Spirit. He’s not here physically, but he’s here in the Person of his Spirit.
• And what type of peace is this? Well, in verse 27 he defines by contrast. He doesn't give us peace (or anything else, by the way) like the world gives. What type of peace does the world “give”? First and foremost, the peace of the world is temporary at best. Nations which we used to be allies with (like Russia) turned into enemies as soon as their interests called for it. That’s because the leaders of most of the nations are not out for the public interest, and they’re not guided by high-minded ideals. At best they’re looking out for the interests of their own nation, and more often than not they’re only looking out for their own selfish desires. What’s called “peace” is often nothing more than a period while the nations reload.
• And this is true in our personal lives as well. Why do most people want to be rich (or at least richer)? Is it just a desire for money? Or is money something that promises something else—security? Folks tend to think that if they just have enough money, they’ll be safe from all (or more of) life’s dangers. But you can read the biographies of the extremely wealthy, and you’ll discover really quickly that this is a lie. No amount of money will grant a good night’s sleep, and it never will. The only true “fortress” that really offers safety is not found in anything you can buy.
• That’s because the way the world defines peace and the way our Lord defines it are very different. They define it as “the absence of open conflict.” If they’re not actively shooting at each other, then they claim that they’re at “peace.” But the Hebrew word Shalom captures God’s idea of peace much better. Shalom means everything where it’s supposed to be. Imagine a house where there’s chaos: Laundry is all over the floor, food is spilled out on the table, the furniture is scattered all over and is blocking people’s way. Then imagine a house in the opposite condition: The laundry is on hangers and in drawers, the food is put away, the furniture is arranged in an orderly fashion. That’s Shalom: Everything in its place. In the spiritual realm, this is a helpful concept. What’s supposed to be in the center of everything? Our Lord. He’s on the throne, and everything revolves around him, and is in complete submission to his expressed will. To the degree you have that, you have peace. To the degree you don’t have that, you have chaos.
• There are at least two products of his peace, two major benefits which we can enjoy when we’re in sync with him. First, our hearts won’t be troubled. As a bit of trivia (as pointed out to me from R. C. Sproul), what’s the most repeated command of Jesus? What does he command us to do more times than anything else? His most repeated command is “Don’t be afraid.”
• The other benefit is victory over this world. It doesn’t matter what the world throws at us: a lost job, a broken marriage, declining health, financial catastrophe, or anything else. What could the world possibly throw at me which could possibly be compared with what the world threw at Jesus? The Enemy and the world system threw its worst at him, and he overcame it all. And the good news? His victory is ours. He promised A) We will have trouble in this world, and B) We can take heart in the midst of that trouble, because he’s here with us.
Aren’t you glad?
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for your promises. I know I’m going to have trouble here, but I don’t have to be troubled in heart. You’re here, and all is well.