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The peace of God , John 14:25-31

4th Apr 2019

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. (NRSV) 

 Assurance in Crisis

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” 

Into the confusion that ensued amongst the disciples following Judas’ betrayal, Jesus spoke words of assurance: “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. These words are found right at the beginning of John 14, and again here in verse 27. 

It can be easy for words like this to sound somewhat trite when spoken in the midst of great struggle or distress. As I write this, I am involved in a particularly difficult situation that has led to a high degree of emotional turmoil for the person concerned, along with uncertainty about the immediate future. If I was to say to them, “do not let your heart be troubled” I suspect it would seem like I was making light of a very painful situation.

And yet, Jesus utters those same words in the midst of a sudden and unexpected (even if frequently pre-warned) crisis for his disciples. Thankfully, he is able to avoid sounding trite because he goes on to offer three solid foundations for this assurance:

  1. As Jesus returns to the Father, itself a reason for rejoicing not sadness (v28), the Father will send the paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to them. The disciples are to be comforted by this because the Holy Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ name just as Jesus had been sent in the Father’s name (v26), and will continue to teach them and remind them of Jesus’ words. There is a continuity here – the events that lay ahead would not culminate in the removal of ‘Immanuel’, even as Jesus himself was set to leave them. God is not about to abandon his people, but will remain ever present with them and in them as Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled and the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28).
  2. As such, Jesus leaves his peace, his shalom, which stands far beyond and above the peace offered by the world (v27). This peace is not dependent on the absence of conflict, but is borne out of the continualpresence of the God the Holy Spirit.
  3. The path that lay ahead for Jesus and his followers, therefore, was nothing less than the fulfilment of the Father’s will, which would have a global impact (v31). This is the gospel, the ‘good news’ that must be proclaimed in word and action.

As followers of Jesus today we inherit the same promise, and so we are also able to hear, without any notion of triteness, those words of deep assurance: “do not let your hearts be troubled.”

The Ven Malcolm Chamberlain, St John's Trustee