The Promise of Peace (John 14:25-31)
By Andrew E. Courtis
One time when Jesus was on a boat with His disciples a storm broke loose and the waves crashed into the boat and it started to flood with water. The disciples found Jesus peacefully sleeping in the stern of the boat, and fearing for the their lives they woke Him up. Jesus arose and said with boldness, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). Then there was a calm.
Most of us have not been in a storm like this, but perhaps you can relate when it comes to the storms of life. The crashing waves of hardship beat against us and we are filled with feelings of fear, despair, uncertainty, and anxiety. As the Lord Jesus spoke with His disciples the night before His crucifixion, He made them a promise. This promise is His legacy to the disciples and all His people. He promised them peace, which is greater than anything the world could offer. Before we come to the main points of this message, it is important to look at how this passage begins. Just after telling His disciples about the blessings of being indwelt by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Jesus said,
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:25-26).
This then becomes the means in which we can take hold of and experience the promise of peace that Jesus spoke of in this passage.
Sermon Summary: In this message we will consider the precious promise of peace Jesus gives to all His people
1. THE PROVISION OF PEACE
The first feature of His promise of peace I would like to consider is the provision of peace. Jesus said,
“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” (14:27)
As Jesus is leaving, notice that He didn’t promise to leave His disciple’s money, property or popularity. Instead, He promised them His peace. The source of this peace is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (14:27a). This is no surprise because Jesus Himself is called the “Prince of peace” (Is. 9:6). This peace characterizes Christ and proceeds from Him making it perfect peace. What is it? It refers to the blessed relationship we have with God, which is a relationship in which He is for us and not against us. This provision of peace is different from the world’s peace. Jesus said, “Not as the world gives do I give to you” (14:27b). Unlike the peace that comes from Jesus Christ, the peace of the world is shallow, selfish, strained and short-lived and this is why we must never put confidence in the world’s peace.
People go around saying kind things to others, but many times the words really have a superficial meaning. When it comes to lining up at a shop to purchase something, the question “How are you?” often isn’t asked with the intention of hearing the answer. Many people go around saying peaceful and kind words to others, however, either behind their back to other people or harbored internally is anger and slander. Shallow peace is also often seen in political peace. Leaders from two opposing governments or nations might be seen in many photographs shaking hands, but many a time the complete opposite is the reality. When I was a primary school teacher it was not an uncommon sight to see two fighting students being told to shake hands and make peace. Despite the words of peace they spoke to each other as they apologized, their faces certainly didn’t look very peaceful!
Many offer a peace but it is only given on purely selfish terms. People boast of being peacemakers or peaceful people, but when you look carefully they only have peace with those who are peaceable in their view or with those most like them. That is not real peace – it is selfishness! This kind of selfish peace bypasses people based on race, personality and appearance.
Others go around trying to bring about peace by the use of force. There are religious groups who believe they are “religions of peace”; but the way they strive to bring this peace about is by forcing people to submit to their ways, otherwise they kill anyone who opposes them. Regardless of what is considered politically correct, such religious groups are not bringing in true peace.
The final reason why we should not put our confidence in the peace of the world is because it is always short-lived. Many have promised peace but no one has delivered permanent peace. In the future there will come one who promises the world peace, but he will be proven to be a liar and a tool of Satan. The peace the world offers is always short-lived, and therefore we are not to put our confidence in it.
Because the peace of Christ is perfect, Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (14:27c). Just as Jesus demonstrated control over the wind and sea in the presence of His disciples, He wanted them to know that He is giving them His peace so that they would not be troubled or afraid.
2. THE PICTURE OF PEACE
The second wonderful feature of our Lord’s promise of peace is the picture of peace. This picture shows why the Lord Jesus Christ had peace, and why we can be confident in the peace He leaves us with. The overall reason why the Lord had peace is because He is God. But this passage provides us with two practical reasons demonstrated by His actions.
His Confidence in the Future (14:28-29)
The Lord Jesus Christ had perfect peace because of His confidence in the Future. He knew what He was doing and where He was going. He said,
“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.”
He reminded them that He is going away and that He is coming back. As noted in the previous passage (14:15-24), this coming occurs by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus knew that He came into this world to be a substitutionary sacrifice for sinners, that He would die, will be buried, will be resurrected and will ascend back to Heaven. He challenged His disciples thinking by saying, “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (14:28b). They should be thrilled by His departure because of what it means. After He goes He will send the Holy Spirit to indwell them, which provides power for service. Furthermore, when He goes to Heaven He will be seated at the right hand of the Father. It is there He appears before the Father as an advocate or helper (1 John 2:1) on our behalf (Heb. 9:24) interceding for us. The apostle Paul wrote,
“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34)
Knowing that this is what Christ is doing right now ought to fill us with joy. Jesus has given you His peace. He was confident of what the future holds. Remember, that regardless of how fierce the raging storms of life are, no matter how crushing the waves of trial may be, we have the hope of Heaven and we will forever be with Christ!
The words, “the Father is greater than I” have been troubling to some and abused by others. Groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are simply modern variations of an ancient heresy called Arianism. Arianism denies the deity of Christ by stripping from Him His equality with the Father. This is heresy. What did Jesus mean then? Jesus is not saying that the Father is greater in His essence or being, as this would contradict all that Scripture says concerning Jesus being God (John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30; Rom. 9:5). But rather, Jesus is acknowledging the Father’s distinct role within the Trinity. The greatness here is not one of value, but rather of function.
His Commitment to the Father (14:30-31)
The second reason the Lord Jesus Christ had perfect peace is because of His commitment to the Father. Nothing in this world was going to get in the way of Jesus doing what He came to do. He said,
“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” (14:30-31)
Jesus knew that the conversation He was having with His disciples needed to wind up, so He said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me” (14:30). The “ruler of this world” (12:31; 14:30; 16:11) is Satan. Though Judas Iscariot has left in preparation for the betrayal, Jesus identified Satan as the power behind him. Though Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8), Jesus was not intimidated. Jesus said, “He has no claim on me”. Though the whole world lies under Satan’s corrupt sway (1 John 5:19), Jesus is the Sovereign Son of God. He is holy and without sin (Heb. 7:26). For this reason, Satan has nothing on Him! Jesus goes on to demonstrate this, “but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father”. Jesus had a perfectly clear conscience at all times because His food was to the will of the Father and accomplish the work He was sent to do.
We sin every day and we don’t always have a clear conscience. We know that as the Evil One looks into our private and public life he can see a lot of sin. However, as the people of God remember what Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (14:27). Because we are in Christ it is His perfect peace we have. Though we sin, He is before the Father interceding for us! Left to ourselves Satan has a lot of dirt on us, but we are the people of God and we are in Christ and He is in us and He is our righteousness! The hymn writer wrote,
“When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.”
Jesus then says, “Rise, let us go from here”. This begins a transition that will include more conversation with the disciples (15-17) before He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane and there He will be betrayed.
Jesus tells His fearful disciples that He is leaving them with peace. This promise applies to us as well. As God’s people, we are to firmly fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, trusting in Him knowing that He had perfect confidence in the future and that He was perfectly committed to the Father. Apart from Him, we cannot have peace. Look to Christ, trust Him, love Him and know “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” and that it “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).