What does Jesus mean when He says, 'Peace I leave with you' (John 14:27)?
In John 14:27, Jesus says, "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." This brings up a couple questions. First, why would He need to tell the listeners to not be afraid? And second, what is the peace He was going to give them?
This verse is from a longer passage where Jesus tells the disciples that He will be leaving. He was sharing this with them after the Last Supper, shortly before His death and resurrection. The thought of Jesus leaving them was sure to cause alarm in their hearts. Jesus knew this and He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15–17). Just before Jesus promises peace, He says, "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:25–26). He reminded and reassured them of the same things a couple chapters later: "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:6–7). After His death and resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, but that doesn't mean He left us alone. He left us the Helper, the Holy Spirit—and according to Jesus Himself, this was the best option.
Jesus' death and resurrection made peace between us and God possible. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Romans 5:10–11 says, "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."
This peace with God given to us by God's grace and received by faith in Jesus Christ also results in peace with others. In talking about Gentiles and Jews, Paul wrote, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility" (Ephesians 2:13–16). He added, "For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:18). All who put their faith in Jesus become God's children (John 1:12) and part of His family. We are to function together as a unified body, full of peace (John 17:20–21; 1 Corinthians 12:12–26). This gift of peace also flows into our relationship with people who do not yet know Christ. Romans 12: 18 counsels, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."
All who put their faith in Jesus receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14). He gives us peace by reassuring us that we belong to God (1 John 3:24). Part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives is peace (Galatians 5:22–23). The Holy Spirit is known as the Helper or Comforter. Jesus knew we would need a consistent source of comfort and peace through the difficult trials we face (John 16:33). The Spirit Himself prays for us (Romans 8:26).
The Holy Spirit is a reliable guide who reminds us of Jesus' words (John 14:26). First Corinthians 2:11–12 says, "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." Romans 8:6 says that "to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."
Jesus gave His followers, and all who put their trust in Him today, peace. Through Him, our sins have been forgiven and we are no longer eternally condemned. In God's abundant grace, the gift of salvation is so much more. We are ushered into full relationship with God. His Spirit indwells us, He gives us His Word that we might know Him and the way of life, and He gives us full access to Himself in prayer (Hebrews 4:14–16). Rather than enemies, we are adopted sons and daughters with an ensured and eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:3–14; 1 Peter 1:3–9). This is the peace that Jesus left and still gives today.
In this world, it is natural to not always feel peaceful. But God has given us this reminder: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6–7). Thanks be to God for this wonderful gift!
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