As I have considered today the many gifts that Jesus has given us through his coming to earth, I would have to say that one of the first and most precious of all his amazing gifts is the opportunity to receive is his gift of peace. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict, but the ability to find inner rest in the middle of conflict. That isn’t easy, but once it is experienced, there isn’t anything else like it! As I get older, I am realizing that this gift is so precious, that I will do whatever it takes to maintain it.
In the book of John in the New Testament, chapter 14, Jesus had just told his closest followers that soon he was going to die. Suddenly, those men who had thought they were following the Messiah (Savior) and king of Israel, found themselves in great conflict. How could God’s Son die? Suddenly their worlds were turning upside down and inside out. Jesus, in order to comfort them and bring stability, said the following in verses 27-28:
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again.
As I read these verses tonight, something struck me that I had never seen before. Jesus’ peace was based upon not his offer (or their ability to maintain it), but upon their relationship, his character, and the certainty that they could count on him to keep his word. When we think about it, isn’t our peace always based upon relationship with someone or something bigger than us? Our world tries to tell us that we can conjure up our own peace, yet realistically, peace must be based upon something or someone stronger, bigger, better, more capable than we are, and the reality that we can count on them to use their strength, stature, abilities, knowledge, on our behalf, and for our best interest. Let’s face it – the world is far too big for us to be that for ourselves. Our peace must be based upon something or someone outside of us.
Jesus knew that and so he came to us, to our world, to our space. God chose to invade us, so that we could know the relationship with him that would provide our peace. God became man – the Ever Present, All Knowing, All Powerful, Only Loving, Completely Gracious, Eternal Merciful, Completely Just, God and creator of all that is, was, and ever shall be took the initiative to move in with us, and set up his home with us, so that we could get to know him and have a relationship with him. Jesus spent 33 years here, making God known – allowing us to experience that God is far bigger, far stronger, far more wise, far more loving, and far more powerful than anything we could or would ever face. He then, in an avalanche of greatest love, paid the price for us to share his name, his family line, and his home – forever, securing our peace. Peace not only in the world, but more importantly, peace with him.
No wonder he could promise something so precious and costly as peace. That peace was purchased at his own expense. It isn’t a cheap peace that lasts only as long as the circumstances allow, for it isn’t based upon circumstances, but upon himself, upon his own character and abilities to provide it for us. It is based upon his promises that all he is and has are ours, as members of his family forever. We no longer need to rely upon our own resources, but can fully rely upon his.
That is also why he could pen through Paul in the New Testament book of Philippians, chapter 4, verses 6 and 7:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Only when we begin to realize that it isn’t about what we can do, or who we are, or what is happening around us – but about what he can do, who he is, and what he has promised – then we will begin to understand and begin to fully experience his peace. And, oh, my – this peace can’t be explained for it is otherworldly. It is all encompassing. It is an amazing gift!
Jesus, I want that peace for myself. Please help me to immerse myself in you, and let go of me, so that I can know this peace no matter what happens. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.