Jesus' peace, not the world's peace | Marguerite Rea | May 26, 2019
There are things in this world that we are good at. And, there are things in the world that we are not good at. Sometimes, we think we’re good at something, but really we’re not. I remember when I used to think that I was good at raising plants. The trouble was, I would forget to water them, and it finally dawned on me that I really wasn't very good at it.
Did you know that there is something that the world thinks that it’s good at, but it’s not? Do you know what that is? It’s peace. The world thinks it’s good at making peace, keeping peace, but it’s not. That's really obvious when you watch the news. It’s also obvious if you study history. I read an interesting article the other day that said that of the 3600 years of recorded history in our world, there have been only 286 years of peace. That's pretty bad. During those 3600 years of recorded history, roughly 8000 peace treaties have been made, and all of them have been broken in one way or
another. Over 14,000 wars have taken place, with an estimated death toll of 3.6 billion people. Do you know what that tells me? That tells me that the world is bad at making and keeping peace.
We’re not just talking about political peace either. What about personal peace? The world is bad at that too. The late columnist Ann Landers used to receive something like 10,000 letters a month. When asked what seems to be the most common topic, she answered that most people seem to be afraid of something. They are afraid of losing their health, their job, their family. They are afraid of upsetting their neighbor, alienating a friend, or committing a social faux pas. Many people are afraid when there is no reason to be afraid. Once again, that tells me that the world in which we live is bad at giving people peace in their lives.
This morning, Jesus tells us that there is hope for us -- he can do it. He can give us what the world can’t. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “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.” The world can’t give you peace. But Jesus can. Today, we’re going to look at this peace that Jesus promises you. You’re going to learn something today — how this peace works. How this peace feels. Perhaps today you will walk out of here with a greater sense of peace than you had had before.
Jesus spoke these words to a very anxious, fearful bunch of disciples. Jesus was about to be arrested, tortured, and crucified. He was about to leave his disciples. Those disciples didn’t fully understand everything that was going to happen. But they felt a sense of dread, a sense of fear. They knew that something bad was about to happen, and they were all very uneasy. Here Jesus tells them that they do not need to be afraid or troubled. He will give them peace, his own special kind of peace, not the kind of
peace the world gives: “I do not give to you as the world gives,” Jesus says. He didn’t want them looking to the world for peace, because they wouldn't find it there.
Before we go on, perhaps this is a good time to ask — have you been looking to the world, hoping to find peace in your life? The world tries to convince you that it’s good at providing peace. “If only you would make more money,” the world says. “Then you will feel peace in your life.” “If only you would lose weight, and get in shape, then you'll find peace.” “If only you could get your family all back onto the same page, then you'll find that peace you're looking for.” “If only you would buy that special book, watch that special TV show. Then you will find out how to have peace in your life.” “If only you would take up that hobby you've been putting off for awhile.” “If only you would be a better person, nicer, more friendly, more outgoing. Then, you'll finally be peacefull!” That's what the world says. Those things are all fine things to do, but none of them will give you a real, lasting, and deep sense of peace in your life.
You may find a temporary fix — something that makes you feel good for a while. But it won’t be long before you’re searching again. Always looking, but never finding that sense of peace you wish you could have. If you’re looking to the world, or to yourself, for a sense of peace in your life, you'll never find it. You know something is wrong. Maybe it has something to do with God. Maybe there’s something wrong there. Maybe I need to figure out my relationship with God. Finally, you throw your hands up in the air and
give up in frustration. There’s a poem that goes like this...
"Said the robin to the sparrow: I should really like to know, why these
anxious human beings, rush around and worry so.
Said the sparrow to the robin: Friend, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father, such as cares for you and me."
If you're looking for peace, perhaps it’s time to stop looking to the world, and to yourself. It’s time to stop ignoring God. It’s time to start looking to Jesus. He tells you that you don’t need to be troubled. You don’t need to be afraid. He can give you a kind of peace that the world cannot give. Here’s how it works- first, he makes peace between you and God. Ultimately, that’s where peace must begin. He takes away the one thing that keeps you from having peace with God. Do you know what that one thing is? It’s called sin. The sin that we’re born with. The sin that we commit in our lives. Deep
down, we know that something needs to be done about that. But there’s nothing we can do to get rid of that problem. But Jesus can. He takes your sin away by dying on a cross. And on Easter morning, when Jesus rises from the dead, all that sin that he suffered for — it’s all gone.
There’s an interesting picture in the book of Job of what Jesus has done with your sin. The passage goes like this: “My offenses will be sealed up in a bag,” Job says. The picture is basically that of taking out the garbage. All those chicken bones, and that food waste that starts to smell after awhile — you seal it up in a bag and you get rid of it. The garbage truck comes and it’s gone. Job says that’s what God does with your sins. He
seals them up in a bag, and he takes them away. He dumps that bag of sin at the cross, and Jesus pays for those sins, one by one, by his suffering and death. Now, you are forgiven. Now, you can look up into the sky and know that there is nothing that stands in the way between you and God. Jesus has taken your sin away. And that’s where peace really begins in your life.
And that peace is what leads to other kinds of peace in your life. There’s a painting entitled “Peace.” It depicts waves crashing against the jagged rocks. It portrays the violence of a crushing storm. It seems anything but peaceful. But down in a small corner of the painting, tucked away in the rocks, is a little bird sitting on her nest, totally oblivious to the raging storm all about. That's a picture of peace. I wish I could paint a
picture like that. If I could paint a picture of peace, I would paint a picture where there is war and violence going on, morality is crumbling, there is disease and bankruptcy and corruption and family strife, all in one picture. That would be my storm. And yet, there in the middle of it all, I would paint a Christian, a man or a woman, reading the Bible. There is the cross. There is Jesus. Things are peaceful there for that person, even though he or she is surrounded by a world of chaos.
“My peace I give to you,” Jesus says this morning. It’s not fake. It’s not shallow or temporary. It’s different. It’s the kind of peace where you can look up, even though there are all kinds of things going on around you, and maybe all kinds of things going on inside of you. In spite of it all, you can look up, and know that you have a God who loves you, who forgives you, who makes promise after promise to you, to love and care for you, and who will someday take you into heaven. That is the kind of God that you have.
May the peace of Christ, which transcends all understanding, guard your
hearts and minds from all that is unpeaceful, in Christ Jesus. Amen.