Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled…
Our Lord, being about to die, makes all the accustomed preparations, and discharges all the functions of a dying man. He charges His friends with His last commands, delivers to them His last advices, prays for them a last and touching prayer, institutes for them an expressive and affecting ordinance — the great Christian keepsake to be observed "in remembrance of Him" — and compensates them as much as possible for their deprivement of Himself, by bequeathing them all that He had to dispose of — this precious and peculiar blessing of peace.
I. THE THING ITSELF. The legacy is "peace."
1. It fulfils the first great condition of peace, by harmonizing the inward feelings with the outward experience; in other words, it establishes peaceful relations between the soul and its proper objects.
(1) Between the soul and its God. These had been violated. The primitive intercourse between man and his Maker was loving and intimate. When he sinned, such intercourse became impossible. "How can two walk together unless they be agreed?" The holy anger of the offended God is met by the hostile feeling of the offending man. In this condition of enmity Christ becomes "our peace." By His Cross He appeases the anger of God. By His Spirit He subdues the enmity in man. He makes pardon possible on God's part by bearing our sins; He makes it to be desired on ours by renewing our hearts.
(2) Between the soul and its moral duty. Corruption opposes our duty to God, selfishness our duty to man, and their antagonism is destructive of peace. But under the influence of the gospel both are destroyed.
(a) Duties to God are discharged with delight. The service is love, the principle is gratitude.
(b) Nor are duties to man less cordial. We are taught to "love as brethren," and are conformed to a noble example. This peace comes into individual hearts, and, eradicating selfishness and bitterness, produces charity; it comes into our homes, and it adds the brotherhood of grace to the brotherhood of nature. It comes among nations, and it teaches that righteousness is exaltation, affection, and felicity.
(3) Between the soul and its providential experiences. When did irreligion acquiesce in providential trials? But the gospel gives us revelations of the purpose of God's providence, new recognitions of its real character, and thus harmonizes our feelings with even its deepest adversities.
(4) Between the soul and its destiny; peace in anticipation of the future life. The believer has no longer a "fearful looking for of judgment"; he "knows in whom he has believed"; he is "begotten again to a lively hope." This is more than reconciliation — it is assurance; more than peace with God — it is peace in God; more than peace with his lot — it is rejoicing over it.
2. It is competent to produce harmony among the inward feelings themselves — a condition palpably as essential as the former — essential in order to the former. For, while there is internal discord, there cannot be external harmony. Sin destroyed the peace of the inward heart, as effectually as it destroyed the peace of its outward relations. There can be no peace among passions of equal intensity and independence, unless subject to some common and absolute rule. To meet this need, we "receive the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." Every affection is taught to recognize Him. Every gratification is found in His will. Every passion is thus made to harmonize. Every desire is solicited to a common tendency. Every energy is directed to a common result.
II. THIS BEQUEATHMENT THE SAVIOUR IDENTIFIED WITH HIMSELF.
1. "My peace." He had secured it to them. It was purchased by His atonement, and wrought by His Spirit.
2. It is peace like His own; the peculiar and surpassing peace which, as a man, He had enjoyed.
(1) Peace with God.
(2) The peace of perfect and conscious obedience.
(3) The peace of perfect affiance. No endurance made Him murmur; no extremity provoked His impatience; no deprivation shook His confidence.
(4) The peace of blissful anticipation. He knew that when His work was done He should be "raised to glory and honour." In all these elements the peace of the Redeemer and the peace of His followers are identical.
III. THE PECULIARITY OF THE BESTOWMENT. "Not as the world giveth."
1. The method of the world in giving peace is by a careful adjustment of external things, sweetening such as are bitter, smoothing such as are rugged. It mistakes a peaceful lot for peaceful feelings; totally neglectful of feelings within, it attends solely to circumstances without; it seeks to remove anxiety, not by trusting in Providence, but by heaping up wealth to make us independent of Providence. It seeks to satisfy inordinate craving, not by moderating desire, but by scraping up gratifications until desire be satiated. It builds up around a man its vain fortifications; but let its defences be carried, and the untutored and effeminate soul is a helpless and hopeless prey. Broadly contrasted with this is the peace of Jesus Christ. It is not dependent on things without; it arises from sources within. It requires not that there should be ease and indulgence; it may exist amid the utmost privation and self-sacrifice. It is not the peace of compromise, but of conquest. "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me ye shall have peace."
2. Identifying peace with indifference, the world would school the heart into an insensibility. Thus the men of the world seek peace; they would freeze the sea of affection, that no storm may agitate its waves; they would petrify the heart, that no grasp of anguish may mark it. And in like manner would they deal with spiritual things; they would quiet all religious solicitudes by utterly banishing them; peace with God they would have by for. getting Him; peace with their consciences by stifling them; peace with the claims of duty by refusing to listen to them; peace with their future destiny by never thinking about it. "They make a solitude, and call it peace."
(H. Allen, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.