27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away and returning to you.’ If you loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. 29 I have told you before it happens so that when it happens you will believe. 30 I won’t say much more to you because this world’s ruler is coming. He has nothing on me. 31 Rather, he comes so that the world will know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up. We’re leaving this place.
Peace is difficult to find at the moment. Right now, a lot of things are upside-down – in terms of our health, our economy and our politics.
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples on the night before he went to the cross. He made explicit in that moment whom he perceived “the world’s ruler” to be. And that night, he clearly wasn’t referring to himself.
We often look around and see the world in the same way. This is perhaps the reason why Christians through the ages have often felt more comfortable with Jesus’ words when he said: “Get up. We’re leaving this place.” Jesus meant that literally, but in many ways the Church has looked to heaven as the ultimate “escape plan” from a world so dominated by sin and brokenness that our day to day reality seems difficult to bear.
And yet, we’ve each been given this one human life to live…so clearly God thought something about this world was vitally important. I don’t think we experience difficulty in this life just so that we can understand the perfect peace of God’s presence in heaven. Instead, I believe this world matters, that what happens here makes a difference, that how we live and treat each other is important to God. Jesus lived and died among us to prove God’s love for humankind and the difference it makes when we love each other.
The peace of God is found not in running from the world, but in meeting Christ in the world – seeing God despite and amidst the trials we face, rather than apart from them. This is the peace the world cannot give.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
How do you find God’s peace when the world around you (or even your own little world) seems to be coming apart at the seams? Try to spend some time doing those things, or in those places, or with those people today.
Prayer: God of Peace, we trust you to break into our lives – even in the places where we are confused, anxious and fearful – with the presence of Christ and your precious Holy Spirit. Find us and meet us in our hurt and in the world’s hurt today. Amen.