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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 25 January 2013

The peace of Jesus (14:27)

 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.

As I think of the peace of the Saviour, the incident that first comes to my mind is the occasion when he was in the boat with his disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee during a great storm. His peace was so great that he slept comfortably through it until he was awakened by his petrified disciples. As I thought of that incident, I also recalled an incident in the life of James Macdonald, the father of the great evangelist of the early nineteenth century in the Scottish Highlands. At one time in his life he had resolved to emigrate across the Atlantic. The boat that they were on was caught in a frightening storm in the Pentland Firth and the passengers soon became panic-stricken, with most of them calling out for divine help. Macdonald sat calmly in the midst of the panic, and one lady rebuked him for his apparent indifferent attitude. His response was to say that he pitied those who had only begun to pray when the storm arose. Macdonald’s experience in that storm is a vivid example of Christ’s peace being communicated to one of his disciples. Many other similar stories could be told of disciples knowing great peace in situations of stress and trouble. 

Sometimes we give little thought to the Saviour’s possession of peace because we take it to be an aspect of his divine Person, which is true, and that this divine peace automatically moved into his human experience. In a sense, this is to deny the reality of his humanity and fails to consider the situations in which Jesus did not have peace, as in Gethsemane and on the Cross. His humanity was sinless, which of course is an important aspect of his peace and is a feature in which he differs from us. Yet I would suggest that in other respects he obtained a sense of inner peace through the same means as we will obtain peace.

Connected to his sense of peace was his life of prayer. The Gospels reveal that resorting to prayer was a regular feature of the Saviour’s life. Many a night he spent in prayer. The Gospel of Luke points out that Jesus was engaged in prayer before the important events in his life: his baptism, his choice of apostles, his transfiguration, to name a few. In prayer he committed his situations to his Father and one consequence was peace.

His submission and his prayer-life were also accompanied by an understanding of the Bible. Of course, Jesus read the Scriptures at a different level from us because he is the great Subject of the Bible as it focuses on his person and work. Nevertheless, his soul fed on the promises of God to the Messiah, and his mission as the Messiah was governed by the Bible’s requirements.

This possession of inner peace did not mean that Jesus was passive. He had to endure attacks from the evil one, and these attacks were designed to destroy his fellowship with God. Also he showed anger when appropriate, as he did at the cruelty of the religious leaders. So experiencing violent opposition and expressing strong disapproval were not inconsistent with his sense of inner peace. 

This is the peace that Jesus promised his troubled disciples. It was a peace that arose from a constant sense of his Father’s approval, a peace that was developed by an ongoing prayer life and regular absorption of the Bible’s contents, and was a peace that could be maintained in the stressful situations of life. By implication, our experience of peace will also come when we sense the Father’s approval of our obedience, when we pray, and when we meditate on the Bible.

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