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…
The Earl of Dundonald fought with his solitary ship a line of formidable forts in South America, whose fire proved so raking that his men could not be got to stand to their guns. Calling his wife, he asked her to fire one of the guns, and show these men how to do their duty. She did so. Instantly they returned, burning with shame, to their posts, and soon the victory was theirs. The lady, in rehearsing the circumstance, said that the thing that was felt by her to be the most terrible, was not the din of battle, not the raking fire, but the awful calmness that sat fixed on her husband's countenance, as it seemed to carry in itself the sure presage of victory. This we can all understand. Every moral nature feels that settled calmness in the face of dangers and deaths is the loftiest example of the sublime. Of this we have one peerless example in the man Christ Jesus, who, on the eve of His agony, utters these words. We have here a word of —
I. FAREWELL. The Old Testament phrase, "Peace be with you!" had now come to be a word of salutation, as it still is in the Oriental "salaam," the modern form of the Hebrew "shalom," or peace. Originally, it was a benedictory prayer. But by this time, in most cases, like our words "adieu," "good-bye," which mean "God be with you!" the deeper and devouter meaning had very much exhaled, leaving only a breath of courtesy or compliment behind. But this is good, so far as it goes: for our religion says, "be courteous," and no gentleman can compare with the Christian gentleman. Christ here commends these forms of courtesy by His august example. But he does a great deal more. Instead of pharisaically leaving these forms, because they are not always what they ought to be. He tells us to take them up and make them what they ought to be. But, as the context shows, He here means a farewell; and this farewell of peace He repeats at the end of the sixteenth chapter, where He brings these valedictory discoursings to a close.
II. BEQUEST. "Leave." Even in the case of a human relative, it is much to inherit his peace. We prize more than gold a father's, a mother's dying benediction. But what are such legacies compared with that which Jesus here bequeaths to the humblest of His disciples. If we have Christ's peace, no matter for anyone's curse, no matter what wrath may surround our head. Peace is here used twice, and occurs first in its general sense. Peace within, in the calm serenity of a pardoned and reconciled soul; peace without, in every needed temporal blessing; peace in storms and afflictions, in the precious gift of a "heart established, trusting in the Lord"; peace in persecution; yea, "perfect peace," blessing them that curse us, doing good to them that hate us; peace in death; for "mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace"; peace in the grave, for there the body is stretched out in repose, "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest"; and the consummation of all peace in heaven. And as Christ is the Testator, so He is Himself the Executor. "My peace." Yes; what the Saviour leaves He gives: what He died to procure, He rose and reigns to bestow.
III. GOSPEL. This peace is a peace particularly Christ's own; that which He Himself possesses and feels, as having finished His work and wrought out our salvation. Would you see something of it? Go to Calvary. The pallid lips give forth the victory shout, "It is finished;" and the words, "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit"; and then the triumphant soul of the Redeemer rises in peace and rapture to the bosom of His Father and His God. It is the climax of peace. Now the peace which was then our Saviour's own He imparts to the humblest of His disciples. We believe in Him and become pardoned, accepted, and sanctified in the Beloved.
IV. GOOD CHEER. "Not as the world giveth," etc. "There is no peace saith my God to the wicked." But let the wicked only forsake his way, and this peace straightway breathes down upon him like a scented vivifying gale from the delectable land. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." How suggestive the contrast!
1. It is vain to seek peace —
(1) In the world's objects of attraction, such as pride, pleasure, and ambition, which bring with them no end of thorny care.
(2) In the world's friendships, which at best are but fleeting, and which too often promise only to falsify and forget.
(3) In the world's wisdoms, which are folly.
(4) In the world's religions, which are worse.
2. But our Saviour's words seem to refer mainly to the manner of the giving.
(1) The world gives conventionally, Christ gives sincerely.
(2) The world gives superficially, Christ gives substantially.
(3) The world gives partially, Christ gives perfectly.
(4) The world gives capriciously, Christ gives constantly.
(5) The world gives temporarily, Christ gives eternally.
(T. Guthrie, 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.