Just hours before he would be arrested and then crucified, Jesus celebrates the greatest Jewish feast holiday with his disciples. They enjoy a Passover meal together and then Jesus speaks to them as is recorded on John 13-16. At the end of chapter 16 Jesus says that he has told them all of this so that they "might have peace." Really! Let's review what he said to them that night.
1. One of you will betray me to my enemies (13:21)
2. Peter will deny that he knows me three times (13:38)
3. I am leaving you (13:36b)
4. Even after all this time, you still don't know who I am (14:9)
5. The Prince of this world is coming (14:30)
6. You are at risk of being cut off from the vine of God (15:6)
7. The world will hate you (15:18-16:2)
8. You are not able to hear all that I wish I could say (16:12)
9. Expect to weep and mourn while the world rejoices (16:20)
This doesn't sound very peace-inducing to me! I'd be scared and wondering what I had gotten myself into. If we have lived long enough, we grasp tht fact that inspite of all the money we spend, the votes we cast, and the miles we jog, we cannot guarantee that our circumstances will be those that promote happiness. When we look inside, the best we can do is hope that we will be "up for the challenge."
What did Jesus mean?
A. It might be that he was pracicing "full disclosure" with his followers. "Were it not so, I would have told you." (14:1b) "I have called you friends fo everything I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (15:15) If bad times are coming, being forewarned can enable me to prepare and get my courage up. Yet this is far from being at peace.
B. Jesus qualifies his promise of peace with a prepositional phrase: "in me." Christ's followers inhabit two worlds at the same time. One is this world of physical, emotional, political, financial, and military threat and uncertainty. It is there that we have "trouble." (John 16:33) The other realm is "in Christ." All lasting peace is found in the latter.
Peace is experienced when
1. We are in a fellowship where we know we are loved (13:34-35)
2. We believe that our eternal place is secure (14:1-4)
3. We see our best days as lying ahead (14:12-14)
4. We feel the love of God for us (14:18-23)
5. We sense spiritual life of God flowing through us (15:7-9)
6. We see the honor in suffering as Christ did (15:20f)
7. We experience "all truth." (i.e. about everything) (16:2)
8. We understand suffering as birth pangs and not as the end (i.e. terminal) (16:20-22)
9. We accept that our best efforts fall short, but understand that our performance never was the deciding factor anyway. (16:31-33)
May peace be yours and mine this year!