The Peace of Jesus | James Stevenson
16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus, and now he is about to leave them. Jesus explains that he is telling them what is going to happen so that ‘in me you may have peace’.
The word ‘peace’ can have different meanings. In John’s Gospel it means a restored relationship with God, thanks to Jesus on the Cross giving up his peace and going to a place of no-peace so that we could know peace.
The world offers all sorts of ‘peace’, whether through wine, chocolate, drugs, gambling….But we find that what might appear to be providing peace at first, actually gives us less peace than when we began.
Eastern religions offer a different sort of peace – one that denies the reality of the world. They draw their followers away from the world that God loved so much, he came himself to save it.
The peace Jesus offers has its source in the one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Anything else is a counterfeit. He tells his disciples that he and the Father are one; and he will come to live in his people through the Holy Spirit. Jesus uses images of betrothal, a vine with its branches, a woman giving birth, to help explain this peace which ‘passes all understanding’ as St Paul said. It can’t be fully understood – it can only be experienced through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Many of us will lean towards trying to understand about God’s peace, because that’s how our minds work. We’ll read and try to puzzle things out – rather than taking time to pray and wait and experience what God has for us. Some of us will lean the other way: towards the experience but not engaging our minds with what the Bible and Christian writers have to say. In order to grow into maturity, it is good to counterbalance experience with learning, or learning with experience. Otherwise we can get stuck in what ‘comes naturally’ to us.
Do you have enough peace for the troubles you are facing? You could try to intentionally ‘lean’ the way that is not your usual way.
We all need this peace, because we will all face trouble in this world, and following Jesus invites more trouble. But Jesus tells us to take heart because the source of the trouble has been overcome. Christ’s death means his victory over sin and the devil, and one day he will return to defeat evil completely, recreate heaven and earth and make all things new.
What we choose now, we reap in eternity. If we knowingly reject Jesus now, we will live out that separation from God in eternity. If we believe in him and live in him now, we have his promise that we will be with him for ever. So we can take heart, because we know how it all ends.
Do you know where you are going, and what’s going to happen at the other end?
You may know that deep peace for yourself, but do you have enough to give some away to those around you? God can use you to bring peace into anxiety-filled places, whether home, work, college or amongst your friends.
‘Take heart! I have overcome the world.’