How Do We Have Peace + Were the Disciples Primitive Yokels Who Were Easily Fooled? #365
Hello friends and happy St. Stephen’s Day, or happy Boxing Day, if you prefer. After today, there are only FIVE episodes left in the year. You might be asking – how are we on episode #365 if we have 5 days left in the year, and this is a daily Bible podcast, and there have only been 361 days so far? That would be a good question, and the issue is that one or two days we had 2 episodes in a day, and I also skipped counting an episode a time or two. Don’t be too hard on me, this is my first time ever to do a daily podcast!
Our readings begin in 2nd Chronicles 31, then Zechariah 13, John 16 and Revelation 17. Revelation 17 is a fascinating passage, that I don’t fully understand near enough to do a podcast episode on it – alas. Our focus today for both questions is in our John passage. Let’s start with a bit of apologetics first. I think a lot of people dismiss the early disciple’s belief in the resurrection out of hand for reasons of chronological snobbery – which is when one generation assumes they are better, smarter, more mature and more advanced than a previous (or newer) generation. In this case, many moderns have assumed over the years that first century people were far more gullible than intelligent modern people, and it would be much easier for them to believe that somebody was going to return from the dead then than it would now. I find the Bible’s depiction of the attitudes of the disciples to be quite the opposite from that. They don’t come across as slack-jawed yokels that would be eager to believe any and every outrageous claim that was put to them…instead, in most cases, they seem quite slow to believe in the miraculous, even when presented with loads of evidence. For instance, in today’s passage, we see the disciples struggling to understand Jesus’ statement that He would be leaving them in sorrow, and then returning shortly:
16 “In a little while, you will no longer see me; again in a little while, you will see me.17 Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this he’s telling us: ‘In a little while, you will not see me; again in a little while, you will see me,’ and, ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What is this he is saying, ‘In a little while’? We don’t know what he’s talking about.”
I point this out, not because it proves too much, but it does help dispel the notion that the disciples were easily misled and swayed by Jesus. They actually seem as skeptical (and as dense) as modern people can be sometimes.
That’s a small note…of bigger concern is the promise of peace that Jesus gives us at the end of this passage. As our church has navigated through the Christmas season in a somewhat locked-down California, I have tried to focus us in on the promised peace of Jesus throughout this most difficult season. Remember that Jesus was prophesied to be a coming “Prince of Peace.” Also recall that peace on earth was a very prominent part of the original angelic announcement of the birth of Jesus. The coming of Jesus has brought peace to His people in an unprecedented way! Let’s read our John passage and consider His gift of peace.
The promise of Jesus here at the end of this passage is one of my very favorite in all of Scripture:
31 Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe?32 Indeed, an hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.33 I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
I want you to see how this is not an overly-positive, sunshine-pumping promise. Jesus tells His disciples that real tribulation and trouble is coming. They will be scattered and scared, they will abandon their teacher, and there will be suffering for both Jesus and His followers…but the teaching of Jesus is that they will not be alone – and the promise of Jesus is that they will will have peace IN HIM. We don’t have to manufacture this peace in ourselves – it comes from Christ in us, the Hope of Glory. Christ dwells in us by faith and by His Word in us.
16 I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, 19 and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
By His Word:
1 John 2:24-25, “24 What you have heard from the beginning is to remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he himself made to us: eternal life.”
Let’s close with some great words on peace from pastor John Piper:
John 14: 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
In the last hours of his life Jesus is helping you become a fearless and peaceful person. The peace he has in mind may include the final peace of all things in the new heaven and the new earth. But that is not what he is focusing on. We know that because he says, “Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.” He has in view your heart, and the peace of your heart, and the fearlessness of your heart, and the untroubled waters of your heart. He wants his people now, to be free from anxiety.
And he knows that the only kind of heart-peace the world can give is peace of mind based on good circumstances. If the world can take away our troubles—through health insurance, or retirement accounts, or flood protection, or bomb shelters, or labor-saving devices—then the world can give some peace of mind.
But Jesus says (middle of verse 27), “Not as the world gives do I give to you.” Which means that his peace is not based on good circumstances. It is given, and it holds sway, in spite of bad circumstances. Here is how Jesus says it in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart in that tribulation; I have overcome the world.”
In other words, our peace will make no sense to the world. That is why Paul calls in Philippians 4:7, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” Human understanding cannot produce it, or grasp it. Why not?
The ultimate reason is that it is not human peace. It is God’s peace. The peace between Jesus and his Father. Verse 27a: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” My peace. I am not creating your peace. I am sharing with you my peace. I am bringing you into my peace.
Your peace, Jesus? They are about to kill you. What kind of peace is that? Perfect peace—with my Father. Tomorrow I will go to the cross, and there I will open the door for my sheep to enter my peace with my Father. I will satisfy his justice, and I will purchase your forgiveness, and I will provide your righteousness. And I will bring you into the very peace that I enjoy with my Father.
And nothing—and nobody— will be able to take it from you. “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Therefore, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
He is saying to Receive my faith that I have in my Father’s sovereignty over Satan. Receive my joy that I have in my Father’s greatness. And receive my peace that I have with my Father’s favor.Faith. Joy. Peace. His and yours. We have an amazing Savior. And a great salvation.
John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (2000–2014) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2014).