John 14:25-31
True Peace

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1.  Today we read the last part of chapter fourteen in The Gospel Of John.  The time is a well known scene, "The Last Supper," the day before Christ was crucified.  Here we have the lengthy discourse that the Lord made in that setting.  It is frequently called "His Farewell Address."  We want to remember his words especially from verse seven.  This is what the Lord said, "I leave you peace and I give you my peace.  I do not give this to you like the world gives it."

I Leave You Peace

2.  Peace in Hebrew is said as "Shalom."  This can also be translated as "tranquility."  But if more be said, this is a state in which one has perfect harmony and abundance and this word means a state in which one truly is overflowing with life.  When it is happening to an individual we can also translate that as "peace & tranquility" and when it happens between a number of people we could translate it as "peace & harmony."  Regardless, this word [shalom] is richer and more detailed than the words for peace that we use.

3.  The Lord said, "I leave you" this such a shalom.  He was not making a promise that the disciples would be at peace and quiet or secure and tranquil.  Immediately after this, the Lord says, "Don't let your heart be unsettled.  Don't become frightened."  His words show how that the disciples faced a situation that might now unsettle their hearts.  It would be when the Lord Jesus was suddenly arrested and then crucified.  This also meant a hard battle was beginning for the disciples, too.  The storm was certainly coming.  While taking a hard look at this reality Jesus said, "I leave you peace."  Obviously it was not a peace that comes by keeping the storms away.  It was a peace that couldn't be lost even in the midst of a storm.

4.  By the way, this word "Shalom" was also a widely used greeting among the Jews.  It is equivalent to our "Good afternoon" or "Good bye."  They would say good bye with "Shalom lekhah" (Peace be to you).  Words can stay behind as one departs, but they cannot leave a true peace that cannot be lost in a storm.

5.  Of course, the Lord did not mean that he was leaving behind the word "Shalom" as in fare well.  He was saying I leave my very shalom itself behind.  This is a ridiculous thing to say.  Why did Jesus say such a thing?  He said it because he truly had shalom.  After the Lord said, "I leave you peace," he said, "I give you my peace."  The reason the Lord could leave peace behind is because it is the peace of Jesus so different from what we know.

6.  The Lord certainly did live as a man truly in shalom.  Whether he was praised by others or looked down upon, whether he was accepted by others or rejected, he did not lose his peace.  His peace was not lost by any events in the world.  Because the peace of Jesus never had its source in this world.  It was a peace that had its source in God the Father.

7.  The Lord made repeated references to his own relationship with God the Father.  For example, Jesus gave witness to the Jews who opposed him, saying, "I and my father are one," (10:30).  Jesus said that both the words that he spoke and his actions as well had all come from God the Father.  When Philip said, "O Lord, please show us your Father," the Lord answered him with "Don't you believe that I am in my father and my father is in me?  I am not speaking from myself the words that I speak to you.  My father, who is in me, is doing his works.  Believe me when I say that I am in my father and my father is in me.  If you don't believe it, believe it through my works themselves," (14:10-11).  In the passage we also read for today, the Lord spoke like this, "The world should know that I love my father and I practice according to what my father has commanded," (14:31).

8.  When Jesus talks of his "peace" it is based upon a full reliance upon the Father, who is one with Jesus.  This is different from a single cup of water one needs when thirsty.  Jesus had a huge fountain of peace in His father.  The peace the world gives is but a cup of water.  It is soon lost.  But, if it has its source in God, the world with all its powers could not steal it away.  That is the "peace" which Jesus is speaking about when he says "my peace."

I Give You My Peace

9.  Well, shouldn't we be living with such peace as this?  Aren't we to say, "If you want true peace believe in God?"  No, it's just not that simple.  Even though we believe in God we cannot obtain peace.  Does it seem to you that "Although I'm a pastor, I am speaking something strange?"  But, it is true.  Peace isn't acquired by only believing in God.  The reason is simple.  Because we and Christ are different.

10.  How are we different?  As I quoted earlier, Christ is one with God the Father.  There was nothing of any kind that separated him from God the Father.  Sin is what makes a gap between us and God.  There is no sin in Christ.  Christ is the one who confidently says, "The world ought to know that I love my father and am practicing what my father has commanded."  We're not like that.  There is sin in us.  There is disobedience within us.  If there wasn't sin in us, we could have peace for sure if we believed in God.  But, since we have sin, we are exposed to God's judgment from the start.

11.  Therefore, Christ did not merely say to his disciples, "Believe in God and get peace."  What does he say?  He said, "I give you my peace."  It is not something we acquire by believing in God, but something that Christ gives to us.  Why can Christ give it [but not another]?  Because Christ himself is the one who takes away our sins.  Because he bridges the gap between God and individuals and he is the one who can remove that gulf.

12.  How will the Lord make this so?  He does it by redeeming our sins.  These words were given just before the Lord was crucified.  By his becoming a sacrifice to redeem sin, he fully intended to accomplish it.  Once John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and cried, "Behold, he is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," (1:29).  As this "lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" the Lord says, "I leave you peace, I give you my peace."

13.  We need to really think carefully about the meaning of these words.  Sin is not the same as feeling guilty.  If it's just some guilt, the feeling in our heart can go away.  The sin goes away.  [But], as our lives do truly exist, so does sin truly exist.  It is a very serious debt that exists in the sight of God.  For example, suppose I decided to lend someone money.  If that's the case, then it won't go away until he pays it back.  If someone says, "Hey, the loan's not anything to come between us.  Forget it, it'll disappear," he would be quite foolish.  It's the same when it comes to sin.  Because sin really exists, the redemption of sin must also come into being.  And furthermore, it must be done in God's set way.

14.  Paul wrote the following to the disciples at Rome.  "Thus, since we are justified by faith, we obtain peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and thanks to Jesus, we have been lead into this present grace by faith and we rejoice in the hope of participating in the glory of God," (Romans 5:1-2).

15.  Since the debt of sin is real, we either pay it ourselves or we are let into grace through Christ.  And there's no way we can pay it alone.  For, apart from the redemption of sin by Christ, there is no solution anywhere to our sin.  Apart from Christ, there is no peace with God.  It is only when we have shalom with God that we can have peace in ourselves and between others.  If we try to get the peace that cannot be taken away by anyone or anything then it must come from the reconciliation with God that Christ has given and from that relationship we have with God;  for, what comes from the world is easily snatched away by the world.

16.  It is a time period when unrest covers the world.  Modern people live being endlessly threatened on all sides.  Indeed, and this didn't just start in our times.  Humanity has always lived with menacing external situations.  People have lived fighting frantically with all the things that threaten existence.  Even in modern times nothing has changed in our situations.  Probably it'll never change either.  Those, who think that if the main causes of anxiety disappear then peace will come, will spend their whole lives in worry.  The reason is simple.  Because the causes of it will not disappear.  Or because we only live endlessly distracted by one worry or another.  But that is miserable.

17.  The root of worry for the modern person is not the existence of threatening things.  It is in that people have lost their peace with God.  Jesus said in verse thirty, "I will not speak much more with you; for, a ruler of this passing world is coming."  The ruler of this temporary world, that is, Satan, has come.  He is on the attack.  And the power of evil takes away life like a thief even as it happened with Jesus.  Still, the Lord says, "But, he is powerless against me."  That is where true shalom lies.  The Lord says to his disciples, "Now, stand up.  Let's go out from here."  The Lord is also saying to us, "Now, stand up.  Let's go out from here."  As we have received of the peace of the Lord Jesus, we must go out into the world.

 
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