Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
It was possibly at this point that our blessed Lord and His disciples rose from the supper table where they had been observing the Passover, followed by the institution of that most sacred of all feasts of the church, called the Lord’s Supper. He had washed their feet, told them of His coming again, of the Father’s love, and of the coming of the Comforter. And now they rose up together and started on the way to Gethsemane where the blessed Lord was to enter into that hour of sorrow before going on to the judgment hall and the cross.
His words have peculiar force as we think of the circumstances under which they were spoken. “Peace,” He says, “I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (v. 27). When He came to earth, He was presented to man as the One who was to bring peace. The prophet Isaiah, seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Savior, had predicted that His name should “be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (9:6). Angels sang at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). And yet the sad thing that cannot but occupy our hearts today is this, that after nineteen centuries—nineteen centuries of gospel preaching—this world knows less of peace than it has ever known.
Our Lord indicated that such would be the case before He went away, and the reason He gave was this, “Because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation and the things that belong to thy peace” (see Luke 19:42, 44). “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). He presented Himself to them as their King and they said, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). In Pilate’s judgment hall He was rejected in this specific character—that of king. Pilate asked, “[What!] Shall I crucify your King?” And the Jews replied, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). Oh, how they have suffered under the “Caesars” since! And all because of that dreadful mistake. The Savior said before He went away, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). That is, if man did not receive Him and the truth He brought that was to make them free, then they must still remain in bondage to sin with all its dreadful consequences.
He foresaw all these scenes of strife and bloodshed. When they asked Him, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” (Matt. 24:3), He replied, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: … but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (vv. 6-7).
The little children sang as He rode into Jerusalem that last time, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38). Notice the difference. The angels said, “Peace on earth,” and the children, divinely taught, sang, “Peace in heaven,” for He was going back to heaven, taking with Him the peace that He would so gladly have shared with the people of the world. And now He sits at the right hand of God—the Man of peace. And before He went away He said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:27).
I take it we have two distinct characters of peace in that verse: First, the peace that Jesus left—“Peace I leave with you.” That, I believe, has to do with the question of sin. There could be no peace between God and man as long as sin came in as a barrier. Twice in Isaiah we read this, “There is no peace, saith [Jehovah], unto the wicked” (Isa. 48:22; 57:21). First it follows Jehovah’s controversy with idols. There is no peace to those who put something else in place of the one true and living God.
And in the second place, Isaiah pictures the coming into the world of the Savior, Jehovah’s Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ, and he says, “He [was] despised and rejected of men… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:3, 5). He told how God’s blessed Son was to be rejected by His own people. He ended up that section of prophecy with these words, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”—no peace for those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can give peace. But though the rejected One, He went to the cross to make atonement for sin, and there was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the chastisement by which our peace is made. So in Colossians 1 we read, “Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself” (v. 20).
I think that is what He was referring to when He said, “Peace I leave with you.” He did not go back to heaven until He had settled the sin question and made it possible for man to be at peace with God, and that on a righteous basis. Remember, there cannot be peace with God apart from righteousness. “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa. 32:17). Jesus is “an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For this Melchisedec, king of Salem” (Heb. 6:20-7:1). Melchisedec means “king of righteousness.” Salem means “peace.” And the Spirit of God says, “First being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (7:2)—no peace apart from righteousness. For that reason, you and I as sinners could never make our peace with God.
Away back in the Old Testament God challenged man to make peace with Him, but no one could ever do it. Why cannot I make peace with God? Because I have no ability to put away my sin. No efforts of mine could make satisfaction for sins.
But the Lord Jesus Christ, as our representative, went to the cross and made peace—made peace by blood of His cross. In Zechariah 6:13 we read, “He shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” That is, the covenant of peace is made between the Father and the Son. The Son took our place, settled the sin question, and so made peace for poor guilty men. Everyone who will may come to God as repentant sinners, and the moment we trust Him, we can say, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
At the close of the war between the States, we are told that a troop of Federal cavalry were riding along a road between Richmond and Washington. Suddenly they saw a poor wretch clothed in the ragged remnants of a Confederate uniform come out of the bush. He hailed the Captain who drew rein and waited for him. He gasped out, “I am starving to death. Can you help me? Can you give me some food?” The Captain said, “Starving to death! Why don’t you go into Richmond and get what you need?” The other answered, “I dare not, for if I did I would be arrested. Three weeks ago I became utterly disheartened and deserted from the Confederate army. I have been hiding in the woods ever since waiting for an opportunity to get through the lines to the north, for I knew if I were arrested I would be shot for deserting in time of war.” The Captain looked at him in amazement and said, “Haven’t you heard the news?” “What news?” the poor fellow gasped. “Why, the war is over. Peace has been made. General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox two weeks ago. The Confederacy is ended.” “What!” he said, “peace has been made for two weeks, and I have been starving in the woods because I did not know it?” Oh, that was the gospel of peace to him.
Sinner, listen to me! Peace was made nineteen hundred years ago, and millions today are dying in their sins because they do not know it. You do not have to make your peace with God. You do not have to atone for your sins. You could not do it, but Jesus has done it all. You may come to God in His name. All that He accomplished at Calvary will be put down to your account. The One who died on the cross to make propitiation for your sins has been raised again and sits today at God’s right hand speaking peace to all who turn to Him, who trust in Him as their Redeemer.
Peace with God is Christ in glory,
God is light and God is love;
Jesus died to tell the story,
Foes to bring to God above.
So Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you.” Have you availed yourself of it? Can you say, “I thank God I am justified by faith and have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ”?
But that is only one side of it. There is another aspect of peace. “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Now Jesus says, “I am going to give you a peace that will keep you from heart trouble.” We are living in such strenuous days and times. There is a heart trouble which may cause great sorrow and distress even though the physical heart may be in very good condition. That is when one has to endure pain because of bereavement, financial trouble, family trials, and perhaps saddest of all, church troubles. I think sometimes the greatest sorrow people have to endure is trouble among Christians who do not trust each other or love one another anymore. Who instead of being helpers to one another are really hinderers of one another’s progress. And yet how often we come up against that very thing. Some time ago a brother came and began telling another an unkind thing about a third Christian brother. “Wait a minute,” said the person addressed, “are you telling me this because you love this man?”
Then there are the sorrows we have to endure out in the world. There are indeed things going on everywhere that are enough to break a sensitive heart. Yet Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” He speaks rest to troubled hearts.
“My peace I give unto you!” He could say, “Reproach hath broken my heart” (Ps. 69:20). and yet His spirit was in perfect peace, and the same peace that possessed the heart of the Son of God, He desires to impart to us. How may we obtain it? We read in Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” There is the secret—trust and confidence in a God of love, a God of infinite power who works all things in accordance with His will. We are bidden to come to Him as He says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). The real meaning of that passage is this: the peace of God shall “garrison” your heart, or “keep” your heart, or “protect” your heart. This is the peace which Jesus would share with His own.
Oh, the peace my Saviour gives,
Peace I never knew before,
And the way has brighter grown
Since I’ve learned to trust Him more.
In verses 28-31, with which this chapter concludes, we see how our blessed Lord was kept in peace in the face of the most adverse circumstances. He said, “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (v. 28). “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice!” Is there not a word of comfort there for those of us who have lost dear ones down here? He said, “I told you I am going away. You should be so glad that I am going to the Father.” Oh, these loved ones in Christ who have left us. Where have they gone? They have gone to the Father. Surely it should rejoice our hearts that they have entered into the Father’s house. “My Father is greater than I.” Remember, He who is God, the Son, became Man, and as Man on earth, He takes the place of subjection. He says, “My Father is greater than I.” As the Eternal Son, He is one with the Father and the Spirit. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:6-8). He took the place of recognized subjection to the Father.
“And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29). This might be applied to many things going on in the world today. If we did not have the witness of Holy Scripture as to the conditions that were to prevail in the world, we might become discouraged. Nineteen hundred years of gospel preaching, and such dreadful things going on that we might say the gospel is a failure. Oh, no, it is not failure. People will not receive the gospel. Someone said, “Don’t you think that Christianity has failed miserably?” The other answered, “Christianity has not failed. It has never been tried.” You see, God has shown us beforehand the conditions that will prevail until the return of the Lord. So you see, all is known to Him, and He will overrule all for good.
“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (v. 30). Neither you nor I could say that. I have been a Christian for fifty years, but I would not dare say that. The prince of this world is the Devil, and there is still something in me that responds to the prince of the world. But Jesus had nothing like that in Him. He knew no sin. So when the prince of the world came to Him, there was no traitor inside waiting to throw open the door. I have to be on guard against Satan’s wiles, but there was no such thing in His case. He was ever the sinless, spotless, unblemished Son of God.
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. (John 14:31)
“Arise, let us go hence.” Go where? To Gethsemane, out to Golgotha. What for? “That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” This is the burnt offering aspect of the work of Christ. He died, not only to put away sin, but to glorify the Father. God had been so dishonored in this world by man’s wickedness and disobedience, and then the Son of God became Man and was obedient even to the death of the cross. He has glorified the Father in such a way that God has received more glory through that sacrifice than He ever lost by all of man’s sin. It is of this that the burnt offering speaks. Christ offered Himself, a sacrifice and a sweet-smelling savor to God.
But then God’s glory and our salvation are linked up together and now since God has been glorified in the work of the cross, He can be just and the Justifier of all who believe in Jesus.
I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood;
I see the mighty Sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.
’Tis everlasting peace,
Sure as Jehovah’s name;
’Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
For evermore the same.
The clouds may go and come,
And storms may sweep the sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not,
The cross is ever nigh.
I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.