In our modern world it isn’t often that something happens that affects the life of every individual in the world. World wars, world economic crises and pandemics do not happen every day.
During these moments, the earthly structures in which we tend to find security—financial systems, established relationships, a working economy, an educational establishment, a health care system, some personalized plan we’ve created—may all seem threatened or may be failing. The natural temptation is to fear.
These “security structures” are personified in Psalm 42:2 as the seemingly immovable “earth” and “mountains” —”Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.” How do we not fear when the world and mountains move?
Peace I Leave with You
John 14:27 records Jesus’ promise to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Please meditate on His words by reciting them repeatedly, slowly, and emphasizing each word in sequence in your repetition—“PEACE I leave with you…Peace I leave with you…Peace I LEAVE with you…Peace I leave WITH you…Peace I leave with YOU.,,etc.”
Jesus uttered these words at a most unique time. In less than ten hours from the time He assured them of peace, the disciples would experience the most peace-robbing circumstances of their lives up to that time. Jesus, whom the disciples had followed for the previous three years, would be crucified. This band of disciples would soon be scattered. All their conceptions about who Jesus was and what following Him meant was going to be challenged and refined. Their world, their plans, their hopes, their ideas would be turned upside down in less than ten hours. How can Jesus promise peace when the entire world suddenly changes?
Jesus’ Lack of Peace
Jesus knew something that the disciples would still be grappling to understand for quite a while. Jesus had set His face to experience one of the most world-changing, peace-robbing, events history has ever known so that His disciples then and now might have peace.
Jesus, the one who had always and forever been in the delightful, peace-filled, life-giving presence of His Father (John 1:18) was going to face the agony, distress, and death-producing event of separation from His Father. Hours after promising peace to the disciples, Jesus, on the cross, far from peace, cried out, “My God, My God why have You forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46). This lament from Psalm 22 came as Jesus, who had only known abundant life, was now dying as some kind of unfathomable separation happened between Father and Son.
Peace for You and Me
So, what about peace now? Jesus’ personal world-shaking, peace-robbing sacrifice on the cross is precisely the reason He can promise you peace. How? The most cosmic world-shattering event is not a financial crisis, a relationship crisis, an educational crisis, a health care crisis, etc. The most world changing event is separation from God for eternity. This is what all of us face because of our sin—separation from God. These temporary world-changing crises do pale in comparison for what eternity holds for us apart from God’s presence.
But this is precisely where Jesus’ promise comes to us. Jesus promised peace without fear because He took the ultimate lack of peace for you so that you might have peace. He took the peace-robbing separation from His Father’s presence so that your sin could be paid for and you could be in the delightful, peace-filled, life-giving presence of God forever. God is with believers now and forever because He was not with Jesus on the cross as Jesus was bearing the penalty for our sin.
Notice the apostle Paul’s rationale in Phil 4:4-7 for why believers can rejoice, have a quiet soul, and peace in difficult circumstances—the Lord is near to us or ‘at hand.’
Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near (at hand). Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
And for those who know Christ, God Himself and His presence with His people has become our refuge even when the world changes out from under us in just a few hours.
Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.”
May the peace of God which surpasses understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus this day.