“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The Greek word translated “peace” in this verse literally means “to set at one again.” The Good News is that Jesus can put us back together when we fall apart and Jesus can keep us together even when everything around us is falling apart. This is what Jesus is offering and promising His disciples.
When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples they were getting ready to go through a terrible trauma. Shortly they would all deny their beloved Master and see their hopes and dreams dashed and crushed. Jesus was promising that in this pain they would be comforted. Ask yourself, how would this comfort come? The context of the verse in John 14 tells us that they would be comforted through the return of Jesus in the Resurrection and the spoils of His Victorious Ascension to His Father’s Right Hand: the out pouring of the Holy Ghost. In short, the disciples would be comforted by having a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Notice that in order for us to have this peace Jesus must lose His peace. The peace that Jesus gives to His followers isn’t cheap. Jesus lost His peace so that we could have it. If we understand what Jesus lost we will understand what we actually have. What did Jesus lose? Jesus lost His relationship with God. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” He cried during the agony of the Cross. Jesus lost His relationship with God so that we could have a relationship with God. This is the nature of the peace that Jesus offers us. Jesus offers us a relationship with God and this relationship is the peace He gives.
Jesus says that the peace He gives to His disciples and His followers is “not as the world giveth.” There is a peace that the world can give you. But this worldly peace is not the same as the peace that Jesus can give you.
How can the world give us peace? The world offers us peace through, among other things, wealth and power. We think, “If I had enough money I wouldn’t be worried about anything.” But that isn’t true. Even those who have a terrible amount of money worry over how to secure their money or even how to make more money.
We think, “If I had enough power and authority then I wouldn’t be worried about anything.” But that isn’t true either. We dare not forget what Shakespeare taught us, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
And there is another sort of counterfeit peace that is popular. One way to overcome anxiety is to check out. To keep telling yourself “I don’t care,” is one way to have a sort of peace, but it is not the sort of peace that Jesus gives. The peace that Jesus gives allows, in fact it enables you, to dream, and to care, and to engage the world around you with confidence no matter what your condition.
Unlike the peace that the world affords, Christian peace is not a vague hope. Christian peace is not based on circumstances or surroundings. Christian peace is the inward confidence and steadiness that comes from being in a relationship with God. That is why it is called “peace that passes understanding.” Christian peace goes beyond what the eye can see to what the soul perceives to be true by faith. Christian peace lays hold of the fact that we are right with God because of what Jesus did for us and that we now enjoy a relationship with God where He is for us in all things.
Armed with this peace, we can go out into the world and take light into darkness. The God who created all things from nothing is our Father. We have nothing to fear. As Martin Luther said:
And tho’ this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.