Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). This word had to amaze the disciples. In their eyes, it was almost an unbelievable promise: Christ's peace was to become their peace.
These twelve men had marveled at the peace they'd witnessed in Jesus for the past three years. Their Master was never afraid. He was always calm, never ruffled by any circumstance.
We know that Christ was capable of spiritual anger. At times he was stirred, and he knew how to weep. But he led his life on earth as a man at peace. He had peace with the Father, peace in the face of temptation, peace in times of rejection and mockery. He even had peace during storms at sea, sleeping on the deck of the boat while others trembled with terror.
The disciples had witnessed Jesus being dragged to a high ridge by an angry mob determined to kill him. Yet he calmly walked away from that scene, untouched and full of peace. They had heard men call their Lord a devil. Religious leaders pointed to him as a fraud. Some groups even plotted to kill him. Yet, through it all, Jesus never lost his peace. No man, no religious system, no devil could rob him of his peace.
All this must have caused discussion among the disciples: “How could he sleep in a storm? What kind of peace is that? And how could he be so calm when that crowd was about to throw him over a cliff? People mock him, insult him, spit on him, but he never fights back. Nothing disturbs him.”
Now Jesus was promising these men the very same peace. When they heard this, the disciples must have looked at each other in wonder: “You mean, we're going to have the same peace that he has? This is incredible.”
Jesus added, “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). This wasn't going to be the so-called peace of a numb, zoned-out society. Nor would it be the temporary peace of the rich and famous, who try to purchase peace of mind with material things. It wasn't going to be the false peace of those who give themselves over to a lie, determining in their minds, “I'm going to have peace, even though I walk in the stubbornness of my own heart.”
No, this was the very peace of Christ himself, a peace that surpasses all human understanding.
The disciples were on the threshold of the greatest trial they would ever experience. Why? Christ was about to leave them. Even though he had tried to prepare them, when Jesus revealed this news to them it had to come as a shock. These disciples had looked forward to the day when the Lord would set up his kingdom on earth and make them all rulers. They had imagined it as a time to rule and reign here on earth.
But now Jesus told them, “You need to know, I am about to be given over into the hands of evil men, and they're going to kill me. But I will rise again.”
In this same scene, Jesus promised to give the disciples the Holy Spirit. Christ explained, “The Holy Spirit will guide you through what you're going to face. He will be your friend. And he'll enable you to experience this peace I give to you.”
Yet these men had no concept of who the Spirit was. They must have thought, “How can a spirit replace a visible, touchable, living man? And how can Jesus expect us to keep his peace, if we don't have his actual presence with us? How can we hope to hold onto it if we have to maintain it by faith, and not by sight?”
At that point, Jesus said, “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father” (John 14:28). But his disciples couldn't rejoice with him. They simply wouldn't understand the promise of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, when he actually came upon them.
Jesus' words had just turned these men's lives and ministries upside down. Suddenly, they were confused, filled with fear and un-certainty. They must have wondered, “How will we live now? Jesus supplied everything. He could take coins out of fishes' mouths and multiply loaves of bread. He was our everything. And what will we do if the Pharisees and priests come after us? They might stone us once Jesus is gone.”
Jesus had just taught these men, “I go to prepare a place for you, [and] I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3). Yet the rest of this chapter reveals that Christ's promise of a heavenly place didn't bring them any relief. Even his pledge to come again didn't lift their spirits.
I can imagine Peter saying, “Who needs a mansion? I need a job. I've got a family to feed. I don't need to hear about future blessings in heaven. This is a real crisis in the here-and-now, and I've got to do something about it. I'm going back to fishing.” After the Crucifixion, Peter and a few of the others did go back to their livelihood of fishing, for a season.
Right now, you may be going through the hardest time you've ever faced. Your life may be unsettled, and things may look hopeless. Could it be a lost job? Maybe your financial situation is out of control. There seems to be no way out for you. Every avenue you turn to fills you with more stress, confusion and weariness.
That is when the mind begins to reason, “How can I have peace with all of this debt hanging over my head? How can I possibly be calm when I need a financial miracle? I'm at the end of my rope. The future seems so uncertain.”
At that point, the discouraged heart is tempted to say, “Yes, God is true to his Word. I thank him for all of his promises. I thank him for his promise of a home for me in heaven. And I thank him for the promise that he'll come again.
“But I've heard all of these blessed truths so many times. And I believe them. But right now, it all just seems like empty theology. I don't need another sermon or theory. What I need is a miracle.”
Maybe your family is in a crisis, or your marriage is struggling, or your health is failing, and there seems to be no hope ahead. You tell yourself, “If I could just see some light at the end of the tunnel. Yet all I see is uncertainty on all sides. If I could just get healing for my body — get deliverance for my child — get out of debt — then I'd have peace. Give me a miracle, and I'll know peace.”
When Christ promised the disciples his peace, it was as if he was saying to them (as well as to us today): “I know you don't understand the hard times that you face. You don't comprehend the Cross and the suffering I am about to face. Yes, you are about to be tried beyond your human capacity to endure. You're going to be confused and feel forsaken by the Father.
“But I want to bring your heart into a place of peace. You won't be able to face what is coming without having my enduring peace in you. You must have my peace.”
Beloved, the world we live in is about to endure a time of tribulation such as never before. We have no comprehension of the sorrows that are to come on the earth in these last days. And Christ is telling us, just as he told his disciples, “You won't be able to endure any of what's coming without my peace inside you. Get it now, before things get worse. My Holy Spirit abides in you. Ask him for my peace. He has promised to anchor your soul in every storm.
“And this will be your miracle: I am going to make you a living wonder to the world. I will make you a spectacle of my grace in the midst of chaos and confusion.”
It doesn't matter what you're going through. Your life may look like it has been struck by a tornado. You may endure trials that cause others to look at you as a modern-day Job. But in the midst of your troubles, when you call on the Holy Spirit to baptize you in the peace of Christ, he will do it.
People will point to you and say, “That person's world has come completely apart. Yet he's determined to trust God's Word, live or die. How can he do it? How does he go on? He should have quit long ago. Yet he hasn't given up. And through it all, he hasn't compromised anything he believes. What amazing peace! It's beyond understanding.”
Over a year ago, my wife, Gwen, underwent knee-replacement surgery. After going through so many cancer operations over the years, now she faced having to live with a metal knee. And the pain from the surgery would be terrible. As we sat together in her hospital room, preparing for the operation, I prayed, “Lord, we need peace to face this. Gwen needs supernatural peace to face another operation. Grant us your peace.”
The Lord did. He brought her through the surgery beautifully. And it was a joy to see Gwen ministering God's peace to everyone who came into her room. Loved ones and strangers alike saw something that was beyond my wife's capacity to work up in her painful circumstance: the peace of Christ himself.
You may be in turmoil, thinking, “It's over. I'm not going to make it.” But Jesus says, “I know what you're going through. Come and drink of my peace.”
Jesus gives us another reason why we need his peace: Satan comes to attack the righteous.
Christ said to his disciples in this same passage, “The prince of this world cometh” (John 14:30). What was the context of his statement? He had just told the twelve, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you” (14:30). Then he explained why: “For the prince of this world cometh.”
Jesus knew Satan was at work in that very hour. The devil had already enlisted Judas to betray him. And Christ knew that the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem was being empowered by the principalities of hell. He was also aware that a devil-inspired mob was coming shortly to take him prisoner. That's when Jesus spoke these words to the disciples: “Satan, the wicked one, is coming. So, I won't be talking to you much more.”
Jesus knew he needed time with the Father to prepare for the coming conflict. He was about to be delivered into evil men's hands, just as he had spoken. And he knew that Satan was doing all he could to shake his peace. The devil would harass and attempt to discourage him, all in an effort to break Christ's faith in the Father — anything to get him to avoid the Cross.
Beloved, we're facing our own crucial trial in these last days. Consider Jesus' warning to believers living today: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And…he persecuted the woman [the church] which brought forth the man child [Christ]” (Revelation 12:12–13).
God's Word could not be clearer on this subject: the church of Jesus Christ is under especially vicious attacks right now. We're facing a devil gone mad, an enemy who's full of wrath against the Lord's holy people. And to endure his attacks, we're going to need the all-surpassing peace of Christ himself.
On whom does Jesus bestow his peace? You may think, “I'm not worthy of living in Christ's peace. I have too many struggles in my life. My faith is so weak.”
You would do well to consider the men to whom Jesus first gave his peace. None of them was worthy, and none had a right to it.
Think about Peter. Jesus was about to bestow his peace on a minister of the gospel who would soon be spewing out cursings. Peter was zealous in his love for Christ, but he was also going to deny him.
Then there was James and his brother John, men with a competitive spirit, always seeking to be recognized. They asked to sit on Jesus' right and left hand when he ascended to his throne in glory.
Yet the other disciples were no more righteous. They simmered with anger at James and John for trying to upstage them. There was Thomas, a man of God who was given to doubt. All of the disciples were so lacking in faith, it amazed and distressed Jesus. Indeed, in Christ's most troubling hour, they would all forsake him and flee. Even after the Resurrection, when the word spread that “Jesus is risen,” the disciples were “slow to believe.” And when the Lord appeared to them, he upbraided them for their lack of faith.
But there's even more. These were also confused men. They didn't understand the ways of the Lord. His parables confused them. After the Crucifixion, they lost any sense of unity they had, scattering in all directions.
What a picture: these men were full of fear, unbelief, disunity, sorrow, confusion, competitiveness, pride. Yet it was to these same troubled servants that Jesus said, “I am going to give you my peace.”
Why was this promise of supernatural peace given to such flawed men? It was because they were called and chosen in Christ, and for no other reason. The disciples weren't chosen because they were good or righteous; that much is clear. Nor was it because they had talent or abilities. They were fishermen and day laborers, meek and lowly.
Christ called and chose the disciples because he saw something in their hearts. As he looked into them, he knew each one would submit to the Holy Spirit.
At this point, all that the disciples had was a promise from Christ of his peace. The fullness of that peace was yet to be given to them, at Pentecost. That's when the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in them. And he would begin to deal with all of their fleshly issues.
In the same way, you and I have been called and chosen. When you came to Jesus, you did it in response to his call. You were convicted, wooed and won by the Holy Spirit. And when you received Christ, you received a measure of his Spirit. The Spirit's work continues in you to this day.
Moreover, you are still called by the Lord. His gifts and calling are without repentance. And, like the flawed, troubled disciples, we too have been chosen to receive Christ's peace, by virtue of his calling.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit has always been to reveal Christ to his people. Jesus said, “He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:14). He's saying, in short, “The Holy Spirit will speak to you of me and of my ways.”
Simply put, we receive the peace of Christ from the Holy Spirit. This peace comes to us as the Spirit reveals Christ to us. So, the more you want of Jesus, the more the Spirit will show you of him — and the more of Christ's actual peace you will have. That is how we obtain his peace.
Jesus said those who love him would have springs of living water welling up in them. That spring began to bubble up when you were saved. But it starts to become a river the more you yearn after Christ. Then, when there is a constant flow of Christ's Spirit — his forgiveness, his character, his humility and obedience to the Father — his peace becomes ours.
Show me a man or woman of God whose main passion is to become more like Christ — whose heart is set on trusting the Spirit to remove all stumbling blocks — and I'll show you someone whom Satan can't defeat. The peace of Christ flows to all who are determined to trust the Holy Spirit to shape them into Jesus' likeness.
Yet we have to heed Christ's warning: “Satan is coming.” No one on earth will be as viciously attacked as the person who has settled on seeking this one prize: to know Christ and be one with him. The Lord promises every such seeker: “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20).
This verse isn't about Christ bruising the head of the serpent in the Garden. That has already been done. No, Paul is speaking of Satan being crushed, beaten down and humiliated, under the foot of Christ in you.
Go to prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the daily supply of peace that Christ promised. ■