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…
"Peace be unto you" was, and is, the common Eastern salutation, both in meeting and parting. It carries us back to a state of society in which every stranger might be an enemy. It is a confession of the deep unrest of the human heart. Note —
I. THE GREETING, WHICH IS A GIFT. Christ gives His peace because He gives Himself. It comes with Him, like an atmosphere; it is never where He is not.
1. The first requisite for peace is consciousness of harmonious relations between me and God. The deepest secret of Christ's peace was His consciousness of unbroken communion with the Father. And the centre and foundation of all the peace-giving power of Jesus Christ is that in His death He has swept away the occasion of antagonism, and so made peace between the Father and the child, rebellious and prodigal.
2. We must be at peace with ourselves. There is no way of healing the inner schism of our anarchic nature except in bringing it all in submission to His merciful rule. Look at that troubled kingdom that each of us carries about within himself, passion dragging this way, conscience that; a hundred desires all arrayed against one another, inclination here, duty there, till we are torn in pieces like a man drawn asunder by wild horses. But when He enters the heart with His silken leash, the old fable comes true, and He binds the lions and the ravenous beasts there with its slender tie and leads them along, tamed, by the cord of love, and all harnessed to pull together in the chariot that He guides. There is one power, and only one, that can draw after it all the multitudinous heaped waters of the weltering ocean, and that is the quiet silver moon in the heavens, which pulls the tidal wave, into which melt and merge all currents and small breakers, and rolls it round the whole earth. And so Christ, shining down lambent and gentle, but changeless, from the darkest of our skies, will draw, in one great surge of harmonized motion, all the else contradictory currents of our stormy souls.
3. Peace with men. The reason why men are in antagonism with one another is the central selfishness of each. And there is only one way by which men's relations can be thoroughly sweetened, and that is by the Divine love of Jesus Christ casting out the devil of selfishness, and so blending them all into one harmonious whole.
4. Peace with the outer world. It is not external calamities, but the resistance of the will to these, that makes the disturbances of life. Submission is peace, and when a man with Christ in his heart can say what Christ did, "Not My will, but Thine, be done," then some faint beginnings, at least, of tranquillity come to the most agitated and buffeted.
II. THE WORLD'S GIFT, WHICH IS AN ILLUSION. "The world" may mean either mankind in general or the whole material frame of things.
1. Regarding it in the former sense, the thought is suggested — Christ gives; men can only wish. How little we can do for one another's tranquillity! how soon we come to the limits of human love and human help!
2. And then, if we take the other signification, we may say, "Outward things can give a man no real peace." The world is for excitement; Christ alone has the secret of tranquillity.
III. THE DUTY OF THE RECIPIENTS OF THAT PEACE OF CHRIST'S, "Let not your heart be troubled," etc.
1. Christ's gift of peace does not dispense with the necessity for our own effort after tranquillity. There is very much in the outer world and within ourselves that will surge up and seek to shake our repose; and we have to coerce and keep down the temptations to anxiety, to undue agitation of desire, to tumults of sorrow, to cowardly fears of the unknown future. All these will continue, even though we have Christ's peace in our hearts. And it is for us to see to it that we treasure the peace.
2. It is useless to tell a man, "Do not be troubled and do not be afraid," unless he first has Christ's peace as his. Is that peace yours because Jesus Christ is yours? If so, then there is no reason for your being troubled or dreading any future. If it is not, you are mad not to be troubled, and you are insane if you are not afraid.
3. Your imperfect possession of this peace is all your own fault. Conclusion: I went once to the side of a little Highland loch, on a calm autumn day, when all the winds were still, and every birch tree stood unmoved, and every twig reflected on the stedfast mirror, into the depths of which Heaven's own blue seemed to have found its way. That is what our hearts may be, if we let Christ put His guarding hand round them to keep the storms off, and have Him within us for our rest. But the man that does not trust Jesus is like the troubled sea which cannot rest.
(A. Maclaren, 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.