“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 (ESV)
I’ve been visiting different churches since arriving here in Ohio and yesterday the pastor preached on John 14:15-31. They are doing a series on the Gospel of John and it’s been helpful to me to go through this book again in this way. On a side note I would say that I find more and more in the Gospel of John each time I go through it. John Piper once remarked that you don’t start with John’s gospel and then just move on to Romans for more meat. There’s enough in John’s account to last you a lifetime.
The pastor did not spend a lot of time on John 14:27, but as I was reading and thinking about this verse during and after the sermon, I kept coming back to Jesus’ words – ‘Not as the world gives do I give to you.’ We hear a lot about ‘peace’ in our world and the word is tossed around quite freely by all of us – “I’m at peace with it” is a term we often hear. But what does that mean? What does that kind of peace give us? Is it just peace until the next crisis or conflict, which we endure and then in our own minds and judgment come to a point where we’ve put it aside and then can say we have ‘peace’? Does it really last?
Jesus has given His disciples some difficult things to grasp in John 14. Philip and Thomas especially seem to be confused about the full meaning of His words. He has also just promised them that they will not be left alone when He leaves the world, and that the Holy Spirit will be sent to comfort them then and going forward. I would guess that when the disciples talked amongst themselves in those days they were not at peace. Jesus was again saying hard things (as in John 6) and worry and doubt were probably keeping them up at night. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul gives his audience a prescription for their worry in ch.4 and then concludes “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v. 7)
We talk a lot about “having peace” and “being at peace” but what does that really mean? How do we fully grasp what Jesus is saying in John 14:27? What does that really look like?