(6) The question of Judas , and the conditions of our Lord ' s self-manifestation , followed by appeals , promises , and the gift of PEACE .
"Then follow the last words as of one who is about to go away, and says 'Good night,' or gives his blessing" (Luther). Peace I leave with (or, to ) you . Peace (d ρήνη ) answers to the ( מוֹלשָׁ ) shalom of ordinary converse and greeting, and signifies prosperity, health of soul, serenity, farewell. This is the sacred bestowment and Divine legacy of the Lord. "Peace" is always the result of equilibrated forces, the poise of antagonistic elements, held in check by one another. Of these the most placid lake, hidden in the hills and reflecting the sunshine and shadows, is a remarkable illustration. So the peace Christ leaves is power to hold the wildest fear in pause, to still a clamor or hush a cry—it is the coming of mercy to a sense of sin, of life to the fear of death. But when he added, The peace that is mine I give to you , we are reminded of the tremendous conflict going on in his own nature at that very moment, and of the sublime secret of Jesus, by which the will of man was brought, even in agony and death, into utter harmony with the will of God. The ἀφίημι , and δίδωμι of this verse show how the ordinary salutation may become invested with immense significance. There are moments when into one human word may be condensed the love of a lifetime. Christ does but pour through these common words the fire of his eternal and infinite love. Not as the world giveth, give I to you , both as to manner and matter and power. The mode of giving is real , sincere, neither formal nor hypocritical. "I say it, and I mean it." (Meyer, in opposition to Coder, thinks this unworthy of the Savior at this moment; but Godet is right.) The matter, substance, and value of the prosperity and peace I give stretches out into eternity; and I give it, I do not merely talk of it or wish it. "Christ's farewell greeting is forerunner of the beatific salutation which shall accompany the eternal meeting" (Lange). Then, returning to the Divine words of John 14:1 , he seems to say, "Have I not justified all that I have said?"— Let not your heart be troubled , harassed by these mysteries or by my departure, neither let it be terrified ( δελιάτω ). This is the only place in the New Testament where the word occurs, though it is found in the LXX .; δειλός and δειλία , in the sense of timidity from extrinsic fear, may frequently be found. He must have seen some rising symptoms of the carnal weakness which would prostrate them for a while.
The promise of a fuller revelation and of an abiding peace.
The disciples had much yet to learn.
I. THE OFFICE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT . "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my Name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
1. As the purpose of the Son ' s mission is to reveal the Father , so the purpose of the Spirit ' s mission is to reveal the Son .
2. He has a double office :
The sayings of Jesus will be the groundwork of all the Spirit's operation.
II. THE LEGACY OF PEACE . "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." The words breathe the sweetness of a farewell blessing.
1. Mark the blessing promised . "Peace."
(a) which he enjoys;
(b) which it is his prerogative to give;
(c) it is allied to the "peace on earth sung at his birth;
(d) it is identified inseparably with him who is continuously "our peace" ( Ephesians 2:14 ).
2. Mark the method of its bestowal .
(a) The world's peace is not lasting.
(b) It gives the greatest pleasure at the first.
(c) This peace is absolutely superior to all legacies of the world, such as houses and lands.
3. Mark the effect of peace upon the heart-trouble . "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
The bequest of peace.
This promise of the Savior sank into his people's hearts. From the first, inward peace, peace of conscience and of spirit, was valued as among the choicest possessions of the members of Christ's Church. They gave their children names such as Irenaeus and Irene, which signify simply "peace." In the course of their communion services it was their custom to greet one another with the salutation, "Peace be with you!" In the catacombs of Rome may still be read on many a Christian's tomb the brief but touching inscription, In Face ("In peace"). So did they value the gift and legacy of their beloved Lord.
I. THERE IS IN HUMAN LIFE MUCH THAT IS FITTED TO DISTURB AND TO DESTROY PEACE .
1. Looking back to the past, many are troubled at the retrospect of their own errors, follies, and sins.
2. Looking round upon the present, many cannot fail to discern in their actual circumstances occasions of distress and alarm.
3. Looking forward to the future, anxious minds are perturbed by forebodings and fears.
II. THE WORLD IS POWERLESS TO IMPART OR TO RESTORE PEACE TO THE TROUBLED HEART . The consolations of the world are delusive, its promises deceptive.
1. There may well be here a reference to the ordinary greetings of the East. "Peace!" is the common salutation, and has been from time immemorial. Like all such greetings, it often was and is altogether thoughtless and insincere. Our Lord's "peace" is something quite different.
2. But there is a deeper reference, viz. to the pretence of peace as given by the world, to which no reality corresponds. The world says, "Peace, peace; when there is no peace." Superficial, deceptive, utterly false, is that insensibility to terrible realities which frivolity and skepticism offer to the troubled soul,
Far better storms of fear and care than such a calm as this!
For terrible is the awakening, when the judgment of the
All-righteous draws near.
III. CHRIST 'S PEACE , AND HIS ALONE , IS VALID AND LASTING .
1. This is spiritual peace. It is not to be supposed that the Christian is exempt from the cares and the calamities of life, that outward circumstances and human society are all to combine in order to his preservation from the troubles which are incidental to human life. But there may be calm within even while the storm rages without. The heart may be so free from fear.
2. This peace proceeds from the restoration of right relations between the soul and God. It is peace of conscience, the substitution of harmony with the government and the will of God for that state of discord which is the experience of the nature that is alienated from the eternal Ruler of all. To be right with God is the first condition of human peace. Such concord it is the work of the Redeemer to bring about.
3. This peace is both a bequest and a gift of Christ. It is a legacy, because it was dependent upon the Lord's departure, and the subsequent establishment of a spiritual dispensation. It is a gift, because apart from the Savior's provision there was no means by which this blessing might be secured and enjoyed. The peace in question is not to be earned by any effort or sacrifice of ours; it is the bestowment of the infinite love and grace of the Divine Mediator.
4. This gift is essentially his who bestows it. The peace which he enjoys he also imparts. That peace which flows from obedience and submission to the Divine will was naturally the proper possession of the Son of God; and it is that same peace which Jesus conveys to the heart that trusts and rests in him.
5. The peace of Christ is all-sufficient. In plenitude and in perpetuity it is alone.
"The world can neither give nor take,
Nor can they comprehend,
The peace of God which Christ has brought—
The peace which knows no end."
The special legacy of Jesus to his disciples.
I. THIS LEGACY IN ITS RICH CONTEXTS . "Peace I leave," etc.
1. The great system of reconciliation . The gospel is pre-eminently the gospel of peace. It is peace on earth, and good will to men. This gospel Christ committed to his apostles as its special ambassadors, and to them was given "the ministry of reconciliation, to wit," etc.
2. This great system in its blessed effects on them . Our Lord sums up these effects in one word, "peace," and it is most significant and expressive. It involves:
3. This legacy of Christ has the peculiarity of being absolutely his own . "My peace."
4. This legacy is very precious .
II. IN THE DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF ITS CHARACTER AND BESTOWMENT . "Not as the world giveth," etc. Here is a contrast. There is no comparison. They knew something of the world as a giver; and for fear they would look at him in the same light, he asserts a great contrast.
1. In the reality of the gifts and the giving . The world gives shadows; Christ gives substances. The world gives that which is not bread, and satisfieth not; Christ's gifts are good, perfect, and satisfying. The world gives in vain wishes and empty salutations—"Peace he with you;" but Christ gives substantial peace. The world pays in promissory notes, but they are all dishonored; Christ pays in hard cash. No sooner he says, "My peace I give unto you," than that peace is given and felt as a living principle in the soul, and all his promises are fulfilled.
2. In the heart of man which is supplied . The world gives to the body; Christ to the soul. The world gives to the outward and transient in man; Christ to the inward and eternal. The world only supplies music for the physical ear, and sceneries for the physical eye; Christ supplies music for the soul, and spiritual sceneries of unspeakable beauty to the eye of faith. The world supplies the lowest part of man—his passions and animal propensities; but Christ furnishes the highest part of him—his reason, faith, conscience—and satisfies his immortal aspirations and wants.
3. In the manner of the giving . The world gives its best first, and there is a sad deterioration; but Christ keeps the best wine to the last. The world gives laughter which ends in weeping, joy which ends in sorrow, pleasures which end in pain, bright hopes which end in dis. appointment, a heaven which ends in hell; but Christ gives good things even at first, and they improve with time. He gives pleasures which sweeten with experience, joys which intensify with years, delights which increase with ages, prospects which brighten with eternities, and hopes which are divinely realized. Weeping is converted into laughter, the pains of birth into the pleasures of a new life, the pangs of repentance into the ecstasies of pardon, the gloomy doubts of faith into the brilliant visions of heaven, the streams of peace into an ocean of joy and happiness, and the struggles of the warfare into the hosannas of a final victory. "Not as the world," etc.
4. In permanency . The world only lends; Christ gives. What the world gives, it soon takes away; but Christ leaves his peace with his people, and gives them "that good part," etc. The world at best only gives a life-interest, and that life very brief and uncertain; but Christ's gifts are eternal possessions and real property. The lease of his gifts is not for the life of the body, but for the life of the soul. The world's fountains soon get dry, but those of Christ are perennial. "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh," etc.
III. IN ITS PRACTICAL EFFECTS UPON HIS FOLLOWERS . "Let not your heart be," etc.
1. They were exposed to special dangers .
2. To strengthen their heart against trouble and fear was now Christ ' s chief aim . "Let not your heart," etc. There may be trouble without much fear; still they are near relations, and ever attack the heart. The heart, as the seat of emotion, is the most vulnerable avenue to these foes. They were rushing in torrents upon the disciples already. The mere talk of his departure had filled their heart with sorrow. It was his chief aim to strengthen their heart.
3. This aim he accomplished by the bestowment of his own peace . "Peace I leave with you," etc. He prescribes and furnishes the remedy—"peace." The Divine element which had been so infallible against fear and trouble in himself. "My peace I give unto you." This Divine peace is the only dement which can successfully combat trouble and fear. It sets the whole soul to music; and the music of the soul, like the music of heaven, makes sorrow and sighing to flee away. Filled with Christ's peace, like him, they would be calm in the storm, joyful in tribulation, patient in suffering, and jubilant in death.
1. All the movements of Jesus were in order to bless . He came to the world to bless. He was in it for a while to bless, and left it in order to bless his people all the more. The legacy of peace could not be fully enjoyed while the testator was alive.
2. When Jesus left his disciples , he left the best part of himself with them . "My peace I give," etc. He left infinitely more than he took away. He took himself personally away, but left his peace—the cream of his life, and the life of his death.
3. To enjoy his peace is to enjoy him in the highest sense , and to enjoy all we require in this world . It will raise us above our troubles and fears, into the calm sphere of Divine love, fellowship, and protection.—T.
A priceless legacy.
I. THE NEED OF SOME SUCH ASSURANCE . Jesus had already said perturbing things. We know the disciples were so perturbed, for we find the Master himself referring to their manifest disappointment and consternation. "Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart." And this was a sorrow that probably included vexation, chagrin, and humiliation. The Master was quietly demolishing certain castles in the air. This wonderful and profound discourse, which has brought light and comfort to so many generations of Christians, would bring little of either to those who first heard it and in the first hearing. But Jesus was thinking of the future rather than of the present; thinking of a day to come when the disciples would rejoice that he had shattered their delusions and vain hopes.
II. JESUS POINTS BACKWARD TO THE PEACE OF HIS OWN LIFE . He directs his friends to his own experience and attainments. He intimates that his disciples were not altogether ignorant of the peculiar composure of their Master's life. They had seen him again and again in all sorts of scenes and circumstances, but never in a hurry or a flurry. Goethe's ideal of progress was to go on without haste, without rest; and Jesus turned that ideal into reality. The stream of his life was not a rushing torrent, like some Swiss stream fed from a glacier; neither was it made up of dull, sluggish, creeping, almost stagnant stretches of water. If the disciples had not sufficiently noticed this peace, it was just one of the very things the promised Paraclete would bring to their remembrance. They must have remembered how calm Jesus was when the tempest from the hills came down on the little boat. And then they would remember, too, how, when just delivered from the tempest, Jesus met the fierce maniac, possessed of many devils, so strong in his frenzy that he broke the bonds that bound him. Such was the habitual, profound peace of Jesus, and he never could have done his work without it.
III. THE POSSIBILITY OF THIS PEACE BECOMING OURS . We need it not less than Jesus, and surely we can have it. His word was not a mere word of good wishes and kindly interest. He did make over something substantial to his friends. He predicted what assuredly would happen. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace, if only that Spirit is allowed to have free course. A mere possibility, a mere ideal, would have been a poor legacy. Through Jesus many have learned to go through this world of care and turmoil, yet keeping their hearts like that smooth, glassy sea which John saw before the throne.
IV. THE MANNER OF MAKING THIS PEACE A REALITY . We must obtain it, as he obtained it. The Spirit of his heavenly Father, the Spirit that rules in heaven, was ever in him, full and strong. He was in the world, but not of the world. He belonged to a state of being where all is wondrous harmony. He was out of heaven, yet not for a moment did the communications between him and heaven get broken. He was like the diver who goes down into the water, a foreign and impossible element in itself, taking with him the tube that connects his mouth with the upper air, and so being able to remain under the water a long time and do very necessary work. Everything earthly was estimated by heavenly measurements. He belonged to heaven, and knew how things were going in heaven, and so, whatever the inconvenience of an earthly sojourn, his heart was at perfect peace.—Y.