Gospel of John 14: 27-31 (NIV)
27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave.”
Addressing his disciples on the night he was to be betrayed, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus was still teaching them of the kingdom of God.
Have you ever tried to count the occasions in the four Gospels when Jesus told his disciples “do not fear” or “do not be afraid”? Evidently there was much about Jesus that disturbed those closest to him, much they did not understand and much that was cause for awe and uncertainty.
The counterpoint to “do not be afraid” is “peace be with you”. Jesus said this often. In the passage above, he has given his peace to those who follow him.
Do you, as one of his followers today, accept this peace of Jesus Christ? Do you rely on it to the extent that any fear, anxiety or uncertainty is expelled?
We have a distinct advantage as we encounter these words of Jesus: we live in a post-resurrection era. We know that Jesus overcame death. We know that the truth he spoke before his death was fulfilled exactly as he said it would be. Moreover, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, anticipated by Jesus (John 14: 26):
But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
There is no excuse therefore for not accepting his peace today and for not relying on it, even in the most testing of times. Of course the world presents us with problems. Of course there are people and spiritual beings hostile to Jesus, contemptuous of his message and malevolent towards us, his ambassadors to a hurting world. But we are not to be conformed to this world or to be shaped by it into its preferred image. Again we refer to the words of Jesus (John 16: 33):
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus wants us to have peace. He left his peace with us. He gave his peace to us. It is a gift freely available. We cannot and must not reject it. Instead, we must live in it and reveal it to others as a precious gift to be accepted, applied and shared. We must show how attractive is the peace of Christ so that others will desire it and claim it for themselves.