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 14:27
These words of Jesus offer great comfort to us, as he offers his peace to his disciples. If we read them by themselves we might imagine that Jesus spoke these words by the Sea of Galilee on a beautiful, calm day. Perhaps we can hear these words and interpret them to mean, as you follow me you will have neither trials nor temptations, neither trauma nor tragedy. It would not be hard in such a recast of this scripture to desire such a protected life of peace.
The problem is that these words were not uttered at a time of tranquility and beauty. Jesus spoke these words just hours before his arrest, trial, suffering, and death. Jesus was not offering eternal peace in a mellow moment. He was promising peace even in the face of peril. “Peace I leave with you,” he assured his disciples, perhaps reaching out to touch them with the same hands which would be pierced by nails the following day. Jesus was offering something that transcended the circumstances these followers would face. No wonder he said he gave it “not as the world gives.” This peace in their lives would not come from a moment of ease and relaxation. It would come from the source of all life, the assurance of all truth, and the victor of all battles.
We could perhaps better catch the urgency and meaning of Jesus words if we recast them to reflect the setting in which they were given. “I want to give you my peace,” we might hear Jesus saying, “because the world will not give you peace. You are about to experience incredible tragedy, and you will have every reason to feel sorrow, despair, fear, and horror, so I want you to have my peace to see you through this and every battle, this and every dark night, this and every disappointment, this and every time of doubt, this and every brush with death. It is this peace which will keep your hearts from being troubled and rid your hearts of fear.”
Jesus did not protect his disciples from the battles of good and evil. Neither does he protect us. He did not shelter them from the storms of life. Neither does he shelter us. But Jesus did give his disciples something the world could not take away – his peace. That is his offer to you as well.
Lord Jesus, keep me from simply settling for a life of ease. Instead, fill me with your peace that I may not shy away from the challenges and struggles but face them with faith and hope and love. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston