On the night before Jesus died on the cross, He began talking to the disciples about peace.
“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” (John 14:27).
The first words out of his mouth when He appeared to them about the resurrection was the word “Peace”.
“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36).
“Peace,” not love—the new commandment He gave to them. No, Jesus said “Peace.”
The peace Jesus speaks about is no ordinary peace. This peace is an extraordinary peace. It is a peace that is only available to Christians. The world cannot know this peace. It is through this peace that Christians are able to forgive the most heinous acts against them. It is this peace with which the early Christians shielded themselves from the torture and brutality of the persecution by the Romans in the early years of the church.
It is the same peace that Jesus received that night He prayed in Gethsemane when the trouble of His mind, body and spirit was evidenced by the drops of blood He sweat. After His third time of prayer, He received a peace that enabled Him to take charge of the chaotic garden arrest and ensure the escape of all His disciples without violence. It was this peace that gave Him wisdom to speak only when His words would become significant in the narrative of His trials, revealing that He truly was the innocent and spotless Lamb. It was the peace that brought forth the words of forgiveness as His first statement from the cross. Peace enabled Him to be unaffected by the mocking and hatred that was thrown at Him, even by one of the thieves who hung beside Him. His peace based on God’s promises gave Him the assurance to cry out victory over death even while His body was dying.
There is a peace that every Christian can experience. There is a peace that is mandatory for spiritual survival in a world like this. This peace evolves from a restoration of the belief that God is good and that God alone will restore the world in His time in His way. It is a peace that accepts mystery full force with a rationale that recognizes its limits.
In my years as a Christian I have known the opposite of peace. I have come to notice when I have been tricked by the enemy of my soul to lay down the peace that is breathed and spoken over me by Jesus. Sometimes I will get caught in obsessive thinking. I will find myself worn out by trying to solve my problems and wondering how I can ever make my desired outcome a reality. What I really want is peace, and what I give myself is turmoil. I get this way because I lose touch with the peace that passes understanding. I don’t understand that I don’t possess the understanding that will bring peace.
I love how Catherine of Siena writes about this: “Be at peace, then, because in the end we will enjoy God’s peace. Remember, I will always provide for your true needs. Keep in mind that I, your soul, want whatever will make you happiest.”
How often do the things that I think will make me happiest lead to deeper despair?
Jesus is the way of peace.