The passage is still in the discourse after the last supper. Central to this section are Jesus’ words, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.’ v27 In one sentence Jesus is announcing his departure and giving them a departing gift. This is not a casual departure or gift such as someone changing jobs and leaving a set of coffee mugs for the “mugs” stopping behind. Jesus is leaving to do his Father’s will and leaving a gift that will see them through the serious challenges ahead. This section is a continuation of the theme of the opening verse of the chapter, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled.’ v1
The peace Jesus is speaking about is not something gained by the disciples’ own endeavours, it is to be received. It is the peace Jesus has and it is his to give. What do we know about Jesus’ peace? It comes along with the spiritual presence of God himself in the form of the Holy Spirit. v26 We know from our life experiences that certain people’s presence can bring us peace of mind. Jesus himself experienced the peace that came from the constant infilling of the Holy Spirit marked by the Spirit descending on him at his baptism by John the Baptist. John 1.32 Now Jesus is promising the same Holy Spirit to them which they themselves were to be baptized with at Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus made this promise. One of the things the Holy Spirit was going to do for the disciples was to bring to them the remembrance of Jesus’ teaching. The secure understanding of the perspective of scripture provides one with a fundamentally different outlook on life. It is then that our world view becomes aligned to God’s revelation.
Jesus’ peace comes from living in and abiding by the Father’s will. v31 It also comes from sharing in Jesus’ joy of being in the Father’s presence. ‘If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I am.’ v28 The disciples at first did not understand these words and were grief stricken and fearful when Jesus died the next day. However, following his resurrection and then witnessing his ascension, they were transformed. At first they devoted themselves to worship and prayer. Acts 2.14 Once they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit they joyfully and publicly worshiped God with their whole lives. ‘Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people.’ Acts 2.46 Finally their peace was to come from knowing that Jesus’ death and resurrection had all taken place as he had told them, to fulfill the will of God the Father on their behalf. ‘Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.’ v29
A great deal of time has passed since Jesus made those promises to his disciples. How do they bear upon us now? The same gift of peace is there for his disciples now. The same Holy Spirit is given to those who believe in him. We rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is now with his Father in heaven having accomplished all we need for salvation. We have the same teaching as the first disciples because the Holy Spirit reminded those first disciples and they have preserved it in the New Testament gospels.
A Christian’s peace does not come from the circumstances of our life it comes from the person of God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
How does Jesus’ gift of peace differ from the “worlds”?
Be still my soul – Kari Jobe