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…
Though all Christ's conduct is godlike, nevertheless the last scenes of His life shine with peculiar splendour. In proportion as He draws nearer to its close, His charity appears to burn with a warmer flame, His divinity to shed forth brighter beams through the clouds which enshrouded it.
I. JESUS CHRIST GIVES PEACE TO HIS FOLLOWERS; or in other words, He has opened for them sources of tranquillity and joy amidst all the calamities and afflictions of life. This will be established if we can prove these two points —
1. He has given us the most adequate supports under all the woes to which we are exposed; and,
2. He has bestowed on us positive grounds of tranquillity. That is to say, with the one hand He gives us an antidote against every sorrow, and with the other reaches forth to us the richest benedictions.
(1) Look at your life and heart, and you will find two great enemies of peace and tranquillity, sins and afflictions; and in vain will the heart sigh for rest, till in some mode the sting of sin is taken away and the bitterness of affliction removed. While the conscience is burdened by the guilt of sin, and the mind harassed by the apprehension of that punishment to which it exposes us, we in vain hope for peace. No, no! there is no other grief that can be compared with the anguish of the soul, that is enlightened to behold the spotless purity and inflexible justice of God, and the depth of the abyss dug by its own crimes and iniquities. Where, then, shall we seek for relief to these torments which arise from a sense of guilt? In the sacrifice of Immanuel we behold all cause of terror removed, and the most satisfying joys presented to our hopes and expectations. Could you find it in the amusements and gaieties of the world? Alas! in the midst of jocoseness and pleasantry your heart was bleeding. Human philosophy, worldly wisdom! alas, can these wash out the stain of the smallest sin from the conscience? Could you find it in the endearments of friendship and affection? Christ has been no less careful in affording proper supports under those trials, those crosses, and afflictions, of which human life is full, and which we mentioned as the second great enemy to peace. All the schools of antiquity, discordant and clashing in everything else, were united only in presenting unsubstantial comforts, which were too airy to support those under the pressure of real grief, or else in irritating instead of healing the wounds of the soul. But when we turn from these ineffectual consolations of the brightest ornaments of Greece and Rome, to the Divine Instructor who "spake as never man spake," what different sentiments are excited! He proposes such grounds of peace and tranquillity as will hush every painful passion, will compose every rising grief, will drive back every starting tear, or convert it into a tear of joy, and render us not patient merely, but triumphant in affliction. He gives us such instructions concerning the author, the intent, and the issue of afflictions, as, if they be properly realized, will cause the sorrows of life to vanish "like the morning cloud," and the pains of mortality to dissolve "like the early dew."(2) That He has conferred on them positive grounds of tranquillity so powerful, so cheering, as to be sufficient to keep their souls in sacred peace amidst all the storms of sorrow with which they may be assailed. Jesus Christ secures peace and tranquillity for His followers, by giving them an intimate communion with God. But this is only the first of His benedictions. He confers also the Holy Spirit, that bond and ligament connecting God and the soul of the believer. As the enlightening Spirit He presents to our minds those great truths of religion which affect, which interest and delight us. But this Spirit which enlightens is also the renewing Spirit; and how much tranquillity and satisfaction does the exercise of this part of His office give to the soul. To find harmony restored to our irregular affections, to see the passions formerly untamed submitting to the yoke of religion; to behold our native depravity losing its reigning power, and the image of God re-impressed upon us: is not this a desirable, a delightful contemplation? And finally, it is part of the office of this same Spirit, by His consoling influences, to dissipate the cloud of sorrow and cause the sunshine of heaven to break in upon the soul. Finally, Jesus is ready to confer on believers, and will confer on them, if they be not wanting to themselves, the earnests of future glory, the pledges of eternal felicity.
II. THAT HE GIVES IT NOT AS THE WORLD DOES.
1. When the world exclaims to us, Peace be unto you l this exclamation is often void of sincerity. How often are proffers of service, and desires for our happiness, uttered by the mouth that has just been employed in stabbing our reputation, and that in a few minutes will load us with slanders, and hold us up to ridicule!
2. When the world exclaims to us, Peace be unto you, it is not always insincere and deceitful; but even when it most strongly desires our felicity, it is weak, and without power to afford us a complete felicity. Man is feeble, indigent, unhappy. Thus, unable to find full happiness from the world, shall we, my brethren, entirely despair of attaining it? No; for Jesus gives peace not as the world does; His wishes can all be accomplished, for His power is irresistible.
3. The peace which the world gives is limited in its duration. Inconstant and variable, men frequently change their sentiments and opinions.
(H. Kollock, 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.