Peace. What does the word conjure up in your mind? Peace and quiet? Peace and harmony? Five minutes peace? Peace after the storm?
The dictionary defines it as:
1.the normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world.2.( often initial capital letter ) an agreement or treaty between warring or antagonistic nations, groups, etc., to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting or antagonism: the Peace of Ryswick.3.a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors.4.the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security: He was arrested for being drunk and disturbing the peace.
5.cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.
It is interesting that twice in there it uses the word ‘normal’. Peace is the way things are meant to be, yet so often it feels that the opposite is true.
John 14:23-29 (CEV)
23 Jesus replied:
If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them. 24 But anyone who doesn’t love me, won’t obey me. What they have heard me say doesn’t really come from me, but from the Father who sent me.
25 I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you.
27 I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.
28 You have already heard me say that I am going and that I will also come back to you. If you really love me, you should be glad that I am going back to the Father, because he is greater than I am.
29 I am telling you this before I leave, so that when it does happen, you will have faith in me.
This passage is part of Jesus promise of the Holy Spirit. It begins by saying, “Jesus replied”, so the first question is, what question is Jesus replying to? It is a question from Judas – no, not that one:
22 The other Judas, not Judas Iscariot, then spoke up and asked, “Lord, what do you mean by saying that you will show us what you are like, but you will not show the people of this world?”
Jesus is telling them that the Holy Spirit will come and help them – and keep on living in them. The Spirit is coming to take Jesus place. God will still be with them. The work of the Spirit is to remind them of all Jesus has said whilst he is with them. Jesus is preparing them for when he is no longer with them, able to physically guide them through everything.
He tells them that he gives peace. True peace. Not the kind of peace that the world offers. Not a sit down and a cup of tea; not five minutes left alone; not even the absence of battles. Jesus’ peace is one that truly means we do not need to be worried or afraid. A deep inner assurance of his presence, his prompting, his guiding. Knowing, in a way that we may not be able to explain, but being sure that God is in it all with us, whatever might be going on around us. The gentle prompting and reassurance of his presence.
And so may the peace of God, be with each and every one of us, now and always