Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Some wag has altered Kipling’s grand poetic line to say: “If you can keep your head when all around you others are losing theirs…then you just don’t know the situation”. One might read Jesus’ promise of peace, and then wonder if He really knows the situation. Just look around! Unemployment. Seismic economic events. Endless warring in the Middle East. Nuclear weapons. Peace is just what we seem to be missing!
It is Thursday night, the dark eve of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion; and yes, He fully understands the situation He is in. Yet it is Jesus’ very own peace that He bestows to His disciples. “My peace I give to you”. The peace we see in Jesus as He moves through the Gospels, and the peace we see in Him throughout His last week, is a last will and testament to all His followers. Jesus did not live an easy or sheltered life. He faced the same trials and troubles as you and I, and more (Hebrews 2:14-16; 4:15-16). Yet when you look at Jesus you see calm, confidence, and peace in the storm.
“I give you my peace”, Jesus says, in the midst of all the troubles you are facing, right in the midst of the heartache and pain.
This peace of God that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) will come from the disciples’ oneness with Jesus: “You in me, and I in you”. This peace Jesus gives will flow not from circumstances, but from a living oneness with Him. Soon Jesus will talk about the many troubles the disciples will face (John 15:18-16:4). Yes, they will share in Jesus’ sufferings, but they will also share in His peace So also is His gift to us today.
Jesus says that He gives a peace unlike anything the world has to offer. Bible commentator William Barclay rightly observes “The peace which the world offers us is the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and refusing to face things”. Right in the midst of our troubles, right in the midst of the seismic changes we face, Jesus will give peace.
The peace that Jesus gives is two-fold: it is the peace with God that comes from sins forgiven (Romans 5:1), and it is the peace of God that comes from living close to the Father’s heart (Isaiah 26:3; Galatians 5:22; Romans 14:17).
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.
–John Greenleaf Whittier
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?