Wednesday, May 6, 2015

“My Peace I Give” (John 14:27-31)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” (John 14:27–31, ESV)

John 14:27 is an amazing verse. It is one of incredible encouragement to us reading it on this side of the resurrection of Christ knowing that He is at the right hand of the Father and that the Father has sent the Spirit to indwell every individual believer forever and to be with His church. But for the disciples this same verse was quickly followed by the words, “Rise, let us go from here.” 

Jesus had told His disciples that He was leaving and that He was not going to leave them as orphans, but that after He left the Father would send the Spirit and that they would do even greater things. He had told them that though He was leaving it would not be the last time He would see them. He would come again, and He was also going to prepare a place for them where they would be with Him forever. I can only imagine the tenderness with which He spoke to these men whom He loved, and how He tried to assure them in every way that what was about to happen was not going to be the end, but really in many ways just the beginning.

In today’s passage Jesus tells His disciples that while it might be hard for them, think of the joy that He would regain by returning to the presence of the Father. The task for which He was sent would be completed and He would return to where He eternally belongs. In their sorrow, think of His joy, but also think of what greater things might be accomplished. 

All of this He told them so that when it does happen they would know that it was all true, even the things which they would have yet to see. It all happened just as He said. It all happened just as the prophets had spoken. Everything that they learned was true, and they could go forward with great confidence. This was going to be of particular importance to them because the times to come were going to become increasingly more difficult. With Jesus leaving there was going to come another who would seek to tear down everything He came to accomplish. Jesus referred to him here as the “ruler of this world.” He would work with great tenacity to destroy the church and to silence every follower of Christ. He was and is none other than Satan who is still at work today.

Jesus also told them that Satan had no claim on Him. He was far and above him, and in fact we know from Scripture that he has to answer to Him and will even be eternally cast away by Him. But there was going to be a season where he would rule and those who followed after Christ were going to have to suffer many of the same things that He suffered. For this reason it was critically important for them to know that what Jesus had told them was true—every single word. When things got tough they were being made ready to stand knowing that they were on solid ground in Him.

The same is true for Christians today where the persecution they suffer is the rejection of family, the chastisement of co-workers, the judgment of governments, and even their own physical suffering and death. All of these are the result of an enemy who is currently ruling the earth. God is not the author of evil, but He is sovereign over the evil one. He will bring his reign to an end in His time when He accomplishes all that He intends through it—which is the salvation of man.

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10–13, ESV)

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