Jesus Still Speaks His Peace in our Troubled Hearts
By Pastor Ence Ragos
“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.” John 14:27
With all that is happening in the world and all around us because of covid-19, we may find ourselves troubled, fearful and distressed. Like me, we might find ourselves asking: Where is this crisis going to take us? How many people will be infected by this virus? Will I, or any of my family members be infected? How many more people will die?
These are just some obvious questions and surely we can add more on this list. We can go on talking about the effects of this on many fronts, from a broader scale in the different countries of the world, all the way to the very specific situations and contexts of our families and our lives.
As we are confronted with the gravity of the situation, may we never lose sight of Christ and His great work on the cross on our behalf. This holy week, it is my hope and prayer that we focus more our attention on these encouraging words of Christ. Jesus spoke peace to His troubled disciples in the face of His own impending sacrifice by death on the cross of Calvary.
Peace, in this context is not the absence of difficulty and suffering but of a quiet and undisturbed confidence in God who ordains every event in His life. Christ was certain of His Father’s eternal love. He knew that what He was about to experience is the will of the Father and will surely bring glory to His Name; and definitely, salvation for those whom He had already chosen from eternity past.
On the part of the disciples, Christ’s announcement of His death and departure from their midst troubled them greatly. His words of peace and comfort included his command for them, “do not let your hearts be troubled.” In other words He was declaring to them, “stop being troubled” but firmly trust and believe in God and also in Him (Christ).
The Lord may not be physically present with us now, but we are certain that He is still the God who is with us and in us through the Holy Spirit who lives in us (1 Corinthians 6:19). This amazing gift of God through the Holy Spirit (John 14:16,17) is the context by which Jesus also speaks to the hearts of His troubled disciples. God bestows upon believing hearts the promise of peace that He himself gives and the firm confidence that even in the midst of adverse circumstances, His peace is made available.
JESUS HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE
Jesus’ assuring words comes to us with great authority and certainty. He said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace…” Anyone reading these words would certainly recall Isaiah’s prophecy as fulfilled in Christ that “…His name will be called…Prince of Peace…” (Isaiah 9:6).
As the promised Messiah who ushered in a kingdom of peace and reconciliation with God, we can understand what this peace meant for Him - experiencing the most severe trial and cruelty of man’s sin and rebellion. He was “pierced…and crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Is was through Christ that we were reconciled to God “…having made peace through the blood of His cross…” (Colossians 1:20b). In another passage where Paul speaks of Gentiles who were formerly separated from God and from the commonwealth of Israel stated, “…for He Himself is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:14).
We, believers in Christ can rejoice in the assurance that they are no longer objects of God’s judgment and wrath but are given the privilege of knowing and having fellowship with God by His grace. Paul said, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Because of our salvation in Christ we have this peace. In Galatians 5:22, “But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” applying to both our personal walk with God in terms of manifest genuine character and grace in terms of our relationship with others regardless of how we are being treated. In this sense, peace does not originate from us or from any outward circumstance but of a heart attitude, a divinely wrought disposition and spiritual character produced in us by God the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s presence in our lives through His Spirit brings true transformation and manifests itself in the practical details of everyday life knowing that God is the one in charge. Paul succinctly declares, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”(Romans 14:17).
We realize that whatever we may go through, He is more than enough to satisfy us and to enable us to know the peace, the contentment and the joy of being with Him. That nothing in this world would be able to separate us from Him and His love! He has not withheld Himself from us, what more could we ask for?
These words also remind us that apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no peace! No matter what people around us might claim, that “things are going to get better” and that “peace could be achieved when working together.” Time and again, humanity has been trying to find his way, only to be lost.
They said that the crises we are experiencing can bring out the so called “best” in man - that by his own effort and ingenuity, he could try to find the remedy to his awful and miserable condition. Instead of turning to God for help and deliverance, sinful man tries to find peace in people, money and false religion. What man derives from all these is false and fleeting peace for they could not truly answer for the true need of man for fulfillment and well-being as a result of his being reconciled with God. Despite all of man’s accomplishments and possessions everything will one day be gone and reduced into ashes. Instead of improving, the world of unrepentant human beings continue to stay as far away from God as they possibly can. They go on with their lives being enslaved to their sin – sin that brings about hatred, selfishness, envy which results in war, injustice, cruelty, rebellion and every other forms of wickedness.
The prophet describes man’s pitiful predicament as: “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” (Isaiah 56:21). But for the believer, I say, “In Christ alone, in Him is Peace!”
JESUS GIVES PEACE AMID TROUBLING CIRCUMSTANCES
Even in the most adverse situation, the Christian can experience the peace of God. Regardless of what he might go through in life, Christ’s peace allows him to be secure and triumphant knowing that the infinite and majestic God is in absolute control of everything. He is not in any way swayed by trying and testing times. Isaiah states, "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock” (26:3-4). Biblical scholars point out that in Hebrew, renders it as “You will keep him in peace, peace…” the idea is that by repetition, it speaks of absolute perfection of this peace from God. How blessed we truly are to know this “perfect” peace!
The Christian’s peace remains undisturbed, unaffected by anything – whether it be persecution, adversity, famine, sickness, poverty and even death. His security and stability is solidly grounded on the unchanging reality of God and His precious promises in His word. He could declare with the Psalmist: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” and quotes God saying, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations…” (Psalm 46:1-2a, 10).
Jesus further reminded His disciples of the outcome of things when he declared, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Brethren, what could be troubling you and robbing you of your peace at this moment? Compare those now to all that God has provided for you in Christ… Realize that He has already won the victory over those things. What better way to put it than to understand and appropriate the fact that in Jesus, our life and our future is firmly held and sustained by none other than the one who rose from the dead, our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who spoke several times to His disciples and to us as well saying, “Peace be with you...Peace be with you… Peace be with you…” (John 20:19, 21, 26).
As we go on with our lives in this world, He is continually performing His gracious and marvelous work of protecting and preserving us until we reach heavenly glory! Paul said, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Amidst chaos and tragedy all around us, our sanctification is guaranteed by God Himself! He is coming soon!
As our God of peace, He is able to conform us to His likeness and carry out all His good purpose and will in our lives. He will definitely glorify His name and fill us with good hope for the future and everlasting joy with Him in the end. Let us entrust all of our lives and circumstances to the Lord in these troubled times and pray like Paul, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all…The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all! (2 Thessalonians 3:16).