He knew. Jesus knew what was to come. As He gathered together with his disciples for that last night together celebrating the Passover meal together, He tried to prepare them for what was to come. He was warning them of the persecution that would come. He let them know that they may be killed.
All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. (NIV)
He knows that they will be killed. He knows the church will soon be persecuted after his death and resurrection. Some will be boiled in oil. Others lit on fire. Some thrown to the lions. Others crucified. He is describing to them possibly the most evil time of persecution Christians have ever faced and then as Jesus does so often, He goes to a place that just seems crazy. After He has told them that one of them is going to betray Him. After He has told them that He is about to be murdered. After He tells them that Peter is going to deny Him. And after He tells them that the same people who are going to kill him are going to kill them, He says this:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
So that they might have peace!?! Are you serious?!? Their teacher, the miracle-worker from God is about to be murdered. One of their own is going to betray him to his murderers and Peter is going to deny that he ever knew Jesus. Then they are going to start hunting them down and killing them in the name of God. And in the middle of this chaotic, violent persecution, Jesus says, “so that in me you might have peace.”
Jesus always speaks to the possibilities. It was not a guarantee that they would have peace, but Jesus afforded them the opportunity to have peace even in this violent storm of death. Peace is always possible. No matter what storms you are going through, peace is always possible. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the source of peace and an ever-present help in trouble, then peace is always possible. Divorce, violent crimes, war, cancer, death of loved ones, betrayal…we could go on and on, but the Apostle Paul might finish the statement with these words:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
Jesus would begin this unbelievable discourse by telling the disciples that He was going to give them ‘His peace.’ He goes on to say that He does not give as the world gives. A time before this, He told them not to think that He was coming to bring peace because He was coming to bring fire and division as some people would believe in Him and other wouldn’t. The peace of God is not found in the absence of chaos in our life. The peace of God is a promise of peace right smackdab in the middle of chaos. Not only is it possible. It is God’s will for you.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (NIV)
The mind that is governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The word ‘governed’ here is interesting. The government sets up law and restrictions. The government decides what a citizen can do and what it cannot do. For my mind to be governed by the Spirit, this means that I allow the Holy Spirit to restrict my mind from going some places. It also means purpose. To be governed by the Spirit is to seek the purposes of God in every situation in my life. Instead of worrying about what I want or becoming angry for getting what I did not want, I take a step back, evaluate that moment and ask myself what would God want to accomplish in this moment. A bad car accident, a fire, losing my job…what would God want to accomplish in my heart and in the heart of those around me in this moment. Herein lies the peace of God.
The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of truth. To find peace, we must keep our mind restricted to the truth in all circumstances. The truth though is at times hard to find. There is no fear in truth because is based on what might happen which may or may not be true. There is no revenge in truth because human revenge is a lie promising some kind of resolution and satisfaction if we get even with those who have hurt us, but the truth is that revenge only sustains our anger. The truth is that only the Lord is able to avenge our hurts. When we think about restricting our mind to the truth, it is a vast subject. As I said to the church this past Sunday, I could speak for days and days on defining truth in all circumstances. But for the purposes of being concise, let’s look at this passage:
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. (NIV)
1 John 2:20-22
A liar is anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. A lie, then is anything that sets itself up against the truth that Jesus is the Messiah. The Messiah is the Anointed One and in the Old Testament, there were three offices where people were installed through an anointing ritual. In these three offices, we find the culmination of the Messiah. He is Prophet, King, and Priest.
A prophet declares the Word of God. He declares the truth. We find peace in this truth because only God decides what is true. He decides what is right and what is wrong. There is no other philosopher who can challenge His position. If God says it is true, then it is true. I find peace in this. If God says that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, I can find peace in the storm as I wait for the Lord to deliver me. IF the Lord has said that He will bring justice to those who do wickedness, then when I am the victim of wickedness, I can find peace knowing that the Lord will make sure justice appears. It may not be until the Day of Judgment, but those who seek my harm will face consequences at some point. I don’t have to be agitated, angry, bitter, nor depressed. I find peace in this truth.
He is the King. In fact, the King of all Kings. A King is an earthly office. I can find peace because the truth is that there is no power in Heaven nor Earth able to stop God from doing what He said He would do it. He is the prophet and He declares what is right and wrong. But He is also the King of Kings and no army can stop Him from blessing those He wants to bless, giving favor to those on whom He wants to show favor. No devil, no witch, no boss, ex-husband, ex-wife, mean neighbor, or rude person has the power to stop God from doing what He said He would do. All the Devil can do is make it look like God is going to do what He said and for just a moment. But there is no God but our God!
Finally, He is priest. I find peace in this truth because sometimes, we are the cause of the chaos in our life. Our sin, our selfishness, and our pride creates heaps of negativity. We might start believing the lie that God will not help us now or that He doesn’t want to help us or worse yet that He cannot help us. All of this is a lie and the truth is that He is our priest. He is our go-between. Though my sin keeps me from the throne of God, I am covered by His grace which turns the throne of judgment into a throne of grace. He takes up the slack. He covers the gap. In Him, I am restored. I find peace in this truth. Even if it is my very own sin that messed everything up, I may face consequences, but as I repent and turn back to Him, I am restored. He is faithful to forgive. Amen!!!!
If there is anything in your situation attempting to get you to believe that God is not the One who decides how things are going to be, crucify that thought and find peace in that God decides what is going to happen to you and no one else. If you see the forces of this Earth working against you and fear sets in. Crucify that fear and hold on to the truth that He is the King of Kings. There is no one who can stop Him from doing what He says He will do. And if the Devil has convinced you that God is done with you because of your sin, crucify this depression and hold on to the truth that He is your priest. He suffered and died so that your sin would not determine your future. This is His peace. This is the peace of God. He has given it to you. Now pick it up, take it home, and work it in your life today!
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