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 NIV
Now you might wonder why I’d choose to use a quote from a very grown up Jesus when we are in the season of awaiting his birth. Isn’t this jumping ahead of the game? Isn’t this messing with the story?
Maybe. But all week I’ve been thinking about peace – about what it means and where we find it and how we might share it with others. About how the world longs for it, and how we are so much better at breaking it than keeping it.
And when I think of all of this, these words from Jesus are what come back to me, time and again.
There is something different about the peace that Jesus gives. It is not the simple lack of conflict that the world might put forth under the name “peace.” It is bigger, wider, deeper than that.
It has to do with wholeness and health and beauty on all levels – emotional, physical, spiritual, social, economical, ecological…literally on every facet of life.
And Jesus gives this peace to us because he has walked in our shoes. He has felt the limitations and also the incredible depth of what it means to be human. He has known hunger and thirst, friendship and betrayal, doubt and faith. If it is human – he has experienced it.
His offer of peace isn’t some placating gesture from a God who has never known suffering. His offer of peace is the healing work of one whose wounds are deep, whose scars are real, who knows exactly why we need his peace so desperately.
And he is only able to give peace to us in this way because he took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood.
So yes – maybe it is jumping ahead a bit, to quote his words in this season of preparing for his birth. By it is his birth as a helpless human baby that makes those words possible. So you see – it circles around again.
May you know the peace that passes understanding as we await the baby born in Bethlehem. May you know a peace that is different from what the world offers. May you find that your heart is far from troubled as we journey ever closer to the manger.