Friday, September 9, 2011

The Peace Christ Gives

In John 14 Jesus is giving his "last minute" instruction to his disciples.  He begins in the first three verses by saying that he is about to be crucified so that they would have a place secured in Heaven.  Then later in vs. 27 he says that he is leaving them his peace.  Later we learn that this will come through the indwelling Holy Spirit but what is rather amazing is the timing of these words.

If we were visiting an inmate that was about to be executed and his last words to us before being led off to his death was that he would like to give us something before he died and that something is the same kind of peace that was in his heart; what would we think?  Thanks, but no thanks?  We generally assume that one about to die and especially one about to die a slow, excruciating death would be barely able to keep his sanity.  He would be doing well to remain calm in any sense but certainly would be full of the fearful anticipation of what lies ahead.

We see from Jesus's prayer in the Garden that he did not relish the physical pain and especially the bearing of the wrath of God toward sinners that the cross would bring.  Yet his words in John 14:27 mean that he had a peace even on the eve of the crucifixion that was so perfect, so strong, so effective that it was this peace that he would give his people in this present age!

This peace is illustrated by his ability to sleep in a boat while his disciples panicked during the storm on the sea.  How did Jesus have peace in either of these situations that caused him to act completely different than his disciples?   In John 14 he says he didn't get it from anything sort of security that this world offers.  His peace came because he knew and could see what his disciples at that time could not.  It is not unlike the calmness and confidence one has as he walks through a room full of obstacles when the light is on compared to the fear and uncertainty he would have if the room was completely dark.

Simply put the peace that Jesus gives is the peace that the Holy Spirit works in us as the light of the knowledge of God grows brighter and brighter as we learn the Word of God.  And while much peace will come as we learn of what God is doing in his redemptive plan in human history as revealed by his word, I think perhaps the greatest source of peace for a saint comes in the clearest view of the sovereignty of God.

There are a great many passages that give us light of God's control over all things that should calm us in the worst of times.  Let me just point you to Hebrews, to one that we don't mention as often. "Heb 12:26  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." Heb 12:27  This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken--that is, things that have been made--in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Heb 12:28  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe."

The time is coming when God will destroy the physical universe and create them anew.  This means that everything in this world's days are numbered.  But the kingdom that we enter when God saves us cannot be shaken.  We are already in it, nothing can remove us, nothing can destroy us, nothing can defeat God's purposes in us!  If the disciples found themselves in that same boat in the same storm without Jesus but after Pentecost they would have no excuse not to have the same peace that enabled Jesus to sleep.  That does't mean that they should have slept and not rowed but it is the peace and trust in God while they rowed that would honor the Lord in that they put their trust in him more than they feared the storm.

After Pentecost I believe God would have expected the disciples not to cut and run at Jesus' arrest because they would have the same peace and faith that allowed Jesus to calmly and faithfully walk to the cross.  So yes, I want the peace of a dying man, the Man Christ Jesus.  I want the peace of Christ that causes me to trust in the goodness and power of God more than I fear this world

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