We cannot explore the concept of peace in scripture as we have done recently, without looking at the example and person of Jesus. Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold that we expect a Prince of Peace, one who would rule in peace.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’ (Luke 2:14)
The Peace of Jesus
During his ministry on earth, Jesus sets an example for us in how to live with peace—looking at the story of when He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4), Jesus and His disciples were in a ship, a great storm threatened to sink the boat. As seasoned fishermen, the disciples believed they would die. So they woke the Lord Jesus up and said, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ Jesus promptly arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and immediately there was a great calm.
In this story: Jesus is sleeping in the storm, at total peace and confident in His Father’s care and mission for His life. Imagine having peace rule in you internally so that you can sleep through a storm. Jesus had that peace. The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles yet did not quite realise WHO was in the boat with them. Jesus has the authority and power to establish peace not only in nature but in our own lives. Whenever storms arise in our own hearts, the same Lord Jesus Christ who dwells inside of us still calms our hearts with the exact words, ‘Peace, be still’. (Isaiah 46:10)
Christ has brought peace not only to man but to the whole creation. So Colossians 1:19,20 tells us, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
We no longer have to live in fear of death; we have eternal life and peace (Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 53:5). We no longer have to live in fear of the enemy; Jesus has been victorious over him once and for all, and has established victory for us, for all eternity (Rom 16:20; 1 Thes 5:23). Jesus also makes it possible to live in peace with your fellow man. (Col 1:20; Eph 2:14-18) Thus our Lord Jesus is indeed the Lord of Peace (2 Thes 3:16) and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)!
In John 14:28, Jesus has told His disciples that He was going away. At this point, He knew He was going to die the next day and was already having His Last Supper with His disciples and sharing His final moments and thoughts with them. Telling them He would soon leave naturally made the disciples feel quite fearful and anxious. In their hearts, the future seemed very uncertain. Life would not be the same for them without Jesus. There were probably many unanswered questions on their minds. Why did their master have to go away from them? Could He not stay longer with them? What will become of them when their master is gone? These questions must have troubled them and made them feel quite discouraged. We all know how we feel when someone we depend on for strength and support has to go away from us. Knowing how they felt, Jesus immediately says to them in John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus lived out peace before them, and the disciples had been witness to how He lived and ruled in peace. Following on from the Last Supper, Jesus’ response to stress and trouble is hugely helpful for our own growth in Christlikeness. Knowing that He was to die the next day, Jesus was deeply troubled, so much that He said this to the disciples.
‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Mark 14:34.
Never forget that Jesus was in every way human just as we are and was also tempted (Heb 4:15). So Jesus did what He always did in His entire time in ministry when He faced difficulty, He went off to pray where Jesus and His disciples often prayed (John 18:2). In the Garden Jesus was having an issue, a temptation – with inner peace. He knew He would suffer and die, but He still faced the stress and pain of going through His whole crucifixion and death. Here Jesus shows us how He found peace.
He “fell” to the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the “hour may pass from Him” (Mark 14:35).
Then He asked:
‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. (Mark 14:36)
And then finally, in submitted in trust and said:
“Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” (Mark 14:36)
As Jesus prayed it through, three times, finding the disciples asleep every time, nothing had changed for Jesus. He was still going to the cross. But now, He was ready to do God’s will. He had talked to the Father; it had been settled with the Father in prayer, now He had complete confidence and peace of mind within Himself again. So much so that He could say to His disciples:
“Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Mark 14:42)
In giving over His fears and anxiety to the Lord and waiting for His strengthening, Jesus receives peace as the fruit of this trust and faith in His Father.
Just as, today, peace is a fruit in our lives as we trust in the Lord and rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to bring about that fruit in our lives. As we choose to believe and not give in to our feelings of panic, unbelief, doubt, fear, etc., we will be filled with peace.
Start with the little things like:
- Lord help me get through this exam
- Lord help me have patience for one more hour before bedtime
- Lord help me keep my mouth shut in this situation
- Lord, please help me get through this family get-together
Then when the huge, dark stormy clouds come, with the crosses that we have to bear, or the life-threatening trial we have to get through, or the dark valley of loss – when these show up on the horizon of our life, we are already in the habit of finding our peace and strength in God.
Jesus, thank you for the wonderful example You gave us and the peace we have as a gift from Your hand. Paid with the price of your own blood so that we could live in peace both here and in eternity. Help me to regularly come to You to establish the rule of peace in my life. It is not as though You cannot sympathise with my weaknesses, but I can boldly come to your throne and receive mercy and help in my time of need. Thank you, Spirit, for interceding for me at times when I do not have the words to express my pain. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that I know that You are always looking out for me and working to bring about good in every situation in my life.