“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)
When we think of peace, we usually think of what we experience in a quiet moment on a glass-smooth lake or while lying in a hammock under a canopy of leafy trees on a warm day. This peace requires circumstances and surroundings that are just right. This is not the peace Jesus is talking about in our passage. Jesus’ peace can be experienced no matter the circumstances.
Jesus taught that the peace He brings is not like the peace the world gives. The peace the world gives is temporal. It requires peaceful circumstances – quiet, calm surroundings, loving company, and things like that. It also may require money and privilege. The peace the world offers may come at a price. A vacation home in the country or protection from enemies provided by a well-equipped army, for instance, all require worldly resources to acquire. All of these conditions can provide us with peaceful surroundings if they are available to us. And in them we can feel peaceful. And that is a good feeling indeed. But Jesus doesn’t offer “peaceful.” He offers “peace-filled”, the peace of God. Let’s see how the two are different. . .
When our relationships with others become strained and fractured, we separate from those people with whom we are having trouble. In the most severe cases, where vows have been broken, trust has been betrayed, commitments and promises have gone unkept, relationships can take on the characteristics of war. So, how do we straighten out a mess caused by our war-torn relationships with others? Only one approach works. We make peace. So what does this have to do with the peace Jesus offers? Well, unfortunately, without Jesus, our relationship with God is broken and we are separated from Him by our sinful nature. This sets us at war with God. We cannot experience true peace, the peace Jesus offers unless we repair our war-torn relationship with God.
Making Peace With God
Through faith in Jesus we can make peace with God. Our faith in Jesus allows us to discard the sinful nature of the world that places us at odds with God, and replace it with the guiding of the Holy Spirit. Faith in Jesus repairs our relationship, reconciles us to God, so that we can be at peace with Him. You see, having the peace of God that Jesus offers can only come from being at peace with God, through faith in Jesus. Any alternative approach will not address the core problem—being at war with God. Once we are at peace with God, we have peace. Until we are at peace with God, we don’t. Period. Even in those peaceful moments when we feel peaceful, we are just between battles in our war with God, but the war rages on.
Overcoming the World
Being at peace with God, through faith in Jesus, brings a peace that can be experienced in every circumstance and in every situation. Jesus cemented the magnitude of this truth in His disciple’s hearts by proclaiming the He had “overcome the world.” He would later deliver the empirical evidence of this truth by rising from the grave and overcoming the very worst of what the world could deal Him – death. God’s peace is an overcoming peace, because Jesus overcame the world, and its barriers to a peace-filled relationship with God.
When we face trials we can experience the overcoming peace Jesus offers. Remember, trials are things of the world and Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus’ overcoming peace will guard our hearts and minds and will not allow trials to tear them open (see Philippians 4:7). Thus they will remain peace-filled. When we suffer, we can experience the overcoming peace that Jesus offers. Remember, suffering is a thing of the world and Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus’ overcoming peace will guard our hearts and minds and will not allow suffering to tear them open. Thus they will remain peace-filled. The peace that Jesus offers is centered on our right relationship with God, achieved through faith in Jesus, and not by any worldly means. Therefore, the peace that Jesus offers cannot be taken from us by any worldly means. When we face the end of our time in this world, even at death, we can overcome it. Jesus conquered even death, so that we could face it with peace. This peace is amazing! The apostle Paul tried to describe it but finally had to give up and just say that it “transcends all understanding.” That’s the truth.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace; that you might have a peace that transcends all understanding. A peace that will guard your heart. A peace that will guard your mind. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. In Me, you can too.
That’s the YouTruth – That You Might Have Peace.
©2010, 2011 Dan Buckhout