I Leave You My Peace
I Leave You My Peace John 14:25-31 Jesus has cared for his disciples for three years in staggering ways: • He’s provided for them at times in great abundance – he’s turned water into wine, he’s fed thousands out of not much, with heaps left over. • He’s protected them – when the seas were terrifyingly rough, he calmed them. • He’s taught them and fed them spiritually. Now he’s saying he’s going away. You can understand the anxiety of the disciples. Jesus says to them in v27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Matthew Henry wrote, “When Christ was about to leave the world, he wrote his will. His soul he committed to the Father; his body he gave to Joseph; his clothes fell to the soldiers; his mother he left to the care of John, but what should he leave to his poor disciples who had left all for him? Silver and gold—He had none. What he left them was infinitely better—his peace.” Jesus doesn’t give like the world gives – in anything, and certainly no less his peace. For the rest of our time, I want to look at ‘what is this peace that Jesus talks about?’ and then ‘what will help us to know it?’ What makes Jesus’ peace different from the world? The world wishes peace on people. “We wish you all the best, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you good health and prosperity for the new year.” For all its wishing, in the end, that’s the best it can do. Wish. Even a spiritual guru like Ghandi, hypothetically, could teach is disciples about peace. He could teach his disciples how to find peace like he himself supposedly has. For Ghandi to say “my peace I give to you” wouldn’t make sense, not in any literal way. Take a Christmas card greeting for example which read, “There is peace in your heart if you just know where to look.” Is that the best peace we can expect, some inward, sentimental, romantic dribble? If I go looking at my heart for peace, I’ll be looking for a long time. If I look at my heart, all I see is heartache; regrets from the past, and anxieties for the future. So don’t look in here, maybe we should look out there. Look around the world today. Does it seem like a peaceful place? Does it seem like it knows how to achieve peace? Despite the best intentions of many good people, the world can’t deliver peace – not in any meaningful or lasting way, because it can’t deal with the root problem. The reality is, we live in a world where the intentions of many are not peace, but the very opposite. The intentions of many are explicitly to incite fear and anxiety and guilt. Whether it’s • militant Islam • climate change hysteria (where children are literally told they don’t have a future, and people are choosing not to have kids because of “climate anxiety”) • progressive wokeism (where reconciliation is actually out of reach because whatever you do to right the wrongs of the past, which you were not a part of but need to feel guilty for anyway, is never enough) • or even social media (Facebook knows that people use their platform 25% more when they are feeling anxious or depressed, and they know how to manipulate your emotions through the content they choose to present, and that’s just what they’ve told us they know and do.) Add all those things together and no wonder we’re more anxious and depressed than ever before. Jesus comes along and says, “I don’t give like the world does.” Jesus doesn’t just wish peace on people. Jesus doesn’t just tell people where to find it. He wins it and then he gives it. Or, we might say, he bequeaths it. Through his atoning death on the cross he wins peace with God for all of his children. Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been justified, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The primary component of Jesus’ peace is peace with God, and that needs to be first. The world can’t grant peace. Of course, it can’t. How can it when the fundamental problem in the first place is enmity with God? The fundamental problem is my heart is offside with God. Without the forgiveness and reconciliation that Christ wins for us, there’s no adequate basis for peace at other levels; peace with each other, a peace of mind knowing that if you belong to Jesus, you’re safe forever. It’s from having peace with God that these other blessings flow. What’s the solution to the conflict in Gaza? The ultimate solution is not political. It’s the gospel. (We’ll think more about that one in Family Business.) Might it just be, do you think, that’s why Jesus’ peace is not something everyone wants? Jesus’ peace involves facing reality, not hiding from it. It involves God; it involves submitting to Jesus. Jesus’ peace is not an escape from reality, but a courageous confidence even amid troubles. Might it be that people don’t want Jesus’ peace because they realise it will involve cutting back my greed, or my lust for recognition, or my love for self that is so strong it turns to hatred for others who don’t give me what I think they should? Well, in the end, the peace Jesus provides is the only effective antidote to both the troubled mind and living in a troubled world. He concludes his promise by instructing, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. That’s easier said than done sometimes. What’s going to help us do that? If Jesus, by his death, gives us this wonderful gift of his peace, and then we go on living our lives worrying and fretting, then really we just rob ourselves of what Jesus has given to us. So, what will help us enjoy this peace that Jesus has won for us? Jesus gives us some clues in the surrounding verses. The first thing to know is that: 1. Jesus’ words are certain (v26) We need to remember that, in the first place, Jesus is talking to his disciples. Not everything he says is for us directly. Sometimes you just have to say Jesus is not talking to us at this point, it’s not about you. How does that help? Let me explain. Some things are for all those who follow Jesus. Some things are not. Don’t get me wrong, everything will be relevant for us, but sometimes only indirectly, not directly. If we take the promises or instructions that are meant only for the disciples, and apply them directly to us, we will miss the meaning. I know what you’re thinking at this point. You’re thinking, how do we tell the difference between something for everybody and something just for the disciples? Well sorry, a preacher never reveals his secrets. No, that’s a magician. Let me reveal some trade secrets: Sometimes we just know instinctively. Look at the end of v31, Rise, let us go from here. Who thought that was a direct instruction to them this morning? Sometimes we know because Jesus says “whoever”. V9, Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. That’s true for anybody, not just the disciples. Or v21, Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. Sometimes you just need to ask, is that actually true of us today, does the rest of the New Testament say that about us? For instance, v26, But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Who here can say they have never forgotten anything Jesus has said? No one. Now, either Jesus is lying, or this promise is not for you. I know which one is most likely. This promise is not about you. It’s for the apostles, so when they came to preach about Jesus and write about him, through the Spirit, they would be able to remember everything. Now, because it’s not about us does that mean it’s totally irrelevant for us? No, of course not. It has great relevance, indirectly, because when it comes to the pages of the NT, we can have tremendous confidence because, amongst other things, they are not just words of eyewitnesses (eyewitnesses can get it wrong sometimes), they are words of those whom Jesus promised a supernatural teaching and remembering. You can trust the words of Scripture as much as you can trust the very promises of Jesus themselves. V26 is a wonderful verse from which we take great encouragement – it’s just not about you directly. Jesus doesn’t give like the world gives. To take encouragement from something, it doesn’t have to be about me directly. 1. Jesus’ words are certain 2. Jesus’ perspective is the best perspective (v28) You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Is Jesus becoming a little emotionally unstable at this point? One minute he’s consoling them, the next he’s rebuking them. Not for a moment – Jesus knows exactly what the disciples need. Sometimes, because of our sinful nature, to be encouraged we need to be rebuked. The problem might be that we’re not seeing things properly, that our thoughts or feelings are based on false grounds, that we’re putting our hope in the wrong places, and so on. Jesus turns to the disciples and tells them their unhappiness at his impending departure is in reality an indication of how little they love him. ‘If you loved me,’ he says – implying that they don’t – ‘you’d be glad, because the Father is greater than I and that’s where I’m going.’ When Jesus says ‘the Father is greater than I’ he’s not denying his deity. I think what he’s saying is that where the Father is, he’s in his glory, whereas I’m setting mine aside for a time, therefore it’s better for me to return to my Father in glory. Of course, it is, and the disciples’ bemoaning reveals that they love themselves more than they love Jesus. The tragic irony is if they had focused a little more attention on the Lord Jesus, on what was best for him, and a little less attention on their own grief, their grief would have turned to gladness. It’s the same for us. I’m not advocating the solution to any anxiety or grief is just to say, ‘stop focussing on yourself and get over it’. Part of the solution is to recognise that focussing all your attention on your own problems won’t be helpful; in fact, it will be counterproductive – there’s a bigger picture out there. The more we see things from Jesus’ perspective and are interested in what’s good for him, and the less we focus our attention on ourselves, the more we’ll enjoy the peace he’s won for us. As J.C.Ryle said – half our doubts and fears arise from a dim perception of the real nature of Christ’s Gospel. So, a question to ask yourself is, “What does this look like from Jesus’ perspective?” Now, we won’t always have a definite answer to that, ut what we do know is that whatever the situation is, Jesus is always in control. Now you might ask, “How do we know that?” Ah, good question, and one which brings us to the third thing to know to help us enjoy this peace that Jesus has won for us. 3. Jesus is in control (v29-30) I have told you before it takes place, Jesus insists, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me. Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples he’s about to leave them to prolong their suffering as much as possible. He tells his disciples in advance so that, when it does happen, they will realise that he knew what he was doing and believe. Believe what? That Jesus is who he says he is. The Christ, the King , the Lord Almighty. They’ll be able to look back and say, ‘Ah, Jesus was right, of course he knew what he was doing. We should never have doubted in the first place.’ Jesus is preparing the way for them to have a trust in him that could never again be shaken. You see, the time is coming when it won’t look like Jesus is in control. It will look like that maybe Satan has a claim on Jesus, has a hold on Jesus, that somehow Satan can tell Jesus how it should be. When both Jews and Gentiles are calling for Jesus’ blood … perhaps Jesus is just a pathetic victim of fate or sin. When the emperor Nero is burning Christians to light up his garden party … perhaps the kingdom of Jesus isn’t as sure as he made it out to be. When governments that were once built on gospel standards introduce laws that are so anti-gospel; when militant Muslim activity is on the increase; when we’ve been speaking to and praying for our friends or family members about Jesus for years only to see an even further hardening of heart … perhaps Satan does have the upper hand, at least sometimes. Jesus says, ‘no, no, that’s not the way to think. As much as it looks like Satan is overthrowing me – I’m about to overthrow him. The time for talk is over. It’s time to step into the ring one last time.’ The devil comes to oppose Jesus, to make him suffer and die. He has been inciting Judas to the most heinous betrayal of all time, and now he comes to claim his prize. But bad news for Satan – he has no claim on Jesus! For him, the cross spells defeat. I’m not pretending that it always looks as though Jesus is in control. I’m not pretending there aren’t lots of things that hurt, in mind and soul and body. I’m not pretending there won’t be tears and disappointments this side of heaven. I am not pretending that the right guys always look right, and the wrong guys always look wrong. What I am saying is that Satan will not for a moment diminish, detract, deter Jesus from his God-glorifying agenda, and if he can’t what else will? A day is coming when we will look back and say, ‘Ah, Jesus was right, of course he knew what he was doing. We should never have doubted in the first place.’ If Jesus is in control of this, the worst evil, how much more is he in control of everything else that happens? Jesus doesn’t give like the world gives. 4. Jesus loves the Father (v31) I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. We’ve already seen this before in John’s gospel, but Jesus says it again here: his primary motive for coming to earth is obedience and love for his Father. His primary motive is not you, or me. Now, does he care for his children? Of course. All of them, forever, beyond imagination. Does he sacrifice for his children? Of course, beyond compare. That’s not what comes first. I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love them? No, I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. That’s good news. That’s not bad news that we are not at the centre of Jesus’ plans and affections. It’s good news because we can be confident that Jesus has done it. My love for God won’t go a millimetre towards restoring my relationship with him, but Jesus’ love goes all the way. Let’s rest and relax in the fact that Jesus has done it (for us). He’s given evidence of that through his radical obedience. He loved his Father perfectly, completely. That gives us great freedom from being anxious or getting bogged down from worrying ‘is what I’m doing good enough?’ We’re free because, our own problems don’t need to overwhelm us, and they don’t need to absorb all our attention, because our biggest problem’s been dealt with. Through Jesus’ love for and faithfulness towards his Father, those who belong to Jesus have peace with God. Jesus’ love for his Father shows us there’s something bigger going on than you or me. There’s something bigger going on than even Jesus’ love for you or me. Something so big that your failings or your unlovableness, or my failings or my unlovableness won’t wreck, won’t even put a scratch into. Jesus loves his father. Jesus is in control. Jesus’ perspective is always best. His words are always certain. Jesus doesn’t give like the world gives. Friends we won’t find peace while we’re looking at ourselves. We won’t find peace while we’re looking at the world. We won’t; it’s just not possible. Look to Jesus and see the sure, complete, fullness of his work in all its glory and there we’ll find peace. Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the encouragements we’ve received from this chapter in John’s gospel. Lord, we give you much thanks for the way in which you, through your Spirit, have made known to us the things of Christ. Lord, it may be for many of us that as we leave church this morning and the peace and calm of meeting together, the difficulties that lie in the days and weeks ahead will come again to our mind and consciousness and heart to threaten and undo us. Lord, we pray that you will strengthen us. By your grace, we beg, take the eyes of our hearts, and fix them on Jesus that we see him and only him and know the extraordinary peace that he has won for us. In your Son’s name we pray, amen.
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