In Me You May Have Peace
Thank you, Allan. That is so encouraging and such an important point for us to keep crying out for Sergei and the country of Belarus. I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving. We want to continue giving thanks today. We’re going to be looking specifically at the upper room discourse, which is John 13 through 16. We’re going to be landing in John 16 if you want to turn there, here or at home, John 16. But it’ll take us a couple of minutes to get there.
The upper room discourse, John 13 to 16, that section is Jesus’ preparation of his disciples for his departure and death. What is remarkable is even though he is preparing his disciples for what seems so horrible, one of the main things he does repeatedly is to offer a different kind of love, joy, and peace to his followers. A kind of love, joy, peace that was foreign to them (to the disciples) and is alien to us as well, apart from Jesus. What do I mean a different kind of love, joy, peace? Well, the kind of love he offers, as he describes in these chapters, is a love that flourishes in the face of hatred. It’s a joy that is germinated in the soil of sorrow. And it’s a peace that begins to emerge, continues to emerge, even in the middle of tribulation. For the sake of time, I’ll just mention a couple of things about the third one (love, joy, peace), about peace. Look at a couple examples. John 14:27, Jesus said,
“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.”
Notice, “MY peace I give to you.” He’s distinguishing his peace from the kind of peace you’re going to find on the shelves — re-gifted peace, recycled piece, second-hand peace. My peace I give to you. It’s different from anything else you’ll find anywhere else.
John 16:33, and this is where we’re going to land. Jesus said,
“I have said these things to you” [Now, here he is capping up chapter 13-16, the upper room discourse. He’s summarizing saying, “I have said these things to you.” What things? The things about my departure and death, your scattering and abandoning me, my rising and returning. All these things I’ve said to you. Why?] “…that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
I’ve said these things to you so that in me … Notice where he’s locating the source of our peace — in me you will have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, be courageous, be encouraged. I have overcome the world. See, in this world, love and joy are circumstantial. They’re transient. They come and go. They’re episodic. You fall in love and then you fall out of love in the world. You go through a time of joy, you experience a season of joy, and then gone. Peace comes in this world, from this world’s perspective, peace comes when you are able to distance yourself from any kind of hostility or stress, in this world. Maybe you’ve even mastered certain de-stressing strategies like yoga, self-talk. Not that that’s bad. Those can help to give you … Certain de-stressing strategies can help to give you a little moment of peace. That’s not what Jesus is primarily talking about here. He’s talking about a kind of peace that is not seasonal or episodic. He’s talking about a peace that exists in and through and beyond the tribulation, the difficulty that we’re going through. Before the toxicity of the politics improves, before the insecurity of a pandemic ends, in me you may have peace. He is offering peace.
Think about when he was speaking. He was offering peace one hour from Gethsemane, one day from Calvary. He is minutes away from being betrayed, framed, beaten, executed. And he knows it. He’s not delusional. He’s told everyone what is going to happen. And yet here he is in his final moments offering peace, love, joy.
What is this kind of peace? It’s like Aragorn standing in the face of the black ships with such confidence, even though he appears to be greatly outnumbered and imminently defeated. But he knows something they don’t know, and he has something they don’t have. In Aragorn’s case he has the army of the dead that’s about to rise up behind him — a handy feature. In Jesus’ case, he is someone like no other. He called himself the Resurrection, the Life. He’s not just saying, I know something, or I have something, or I know someone. I am someone. I am the Resurrection. I am the Life. That changes everything. As Dr. Carson summarizes,
“Jesus’ point is that by his death he has made the world’s opposition pointless and beggarly. The decisive battle has been waged and won. The world continues its wretched attacks, but those who are in Christ share the victory he has won. They cannot be harmed by the world’s evil, and they know who triumphs in the end. From this they take heart and begin to share his peace.”
That’s the kind of peace we’re talking about. It’s not a peace where, I’m just having a good feeling today, stuff’s going my way — that kind of subjective peace, which is great. That comes and goes, you enjoy it when you have it. But that’s not what he’s talking about. He’s talking about something much deeper, stronger, more constant. That would allow him not only to experience peace, but to express it, to pass it on while looking in the face of such hostility and horror about to occur.
I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. By the way, in the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
There’s a lot more we could say about that, but what I think might be encouraging to us right now is to actually do a little exercise where we are receiving the words of Christ and responding. On the back of your notes … If you’re at home, you can either download the notes or just grab a piece of paper. And at the top write, “In the world you will have tribulation.” In the world you will have tribulation. I think we need to take a few moments to take in these words from Christ, because some of us are still surprised when we go through difficulty, and we still interpret it as, “I must have messed up, God must be mad at me.” Jesus is telling you straight up, in this world where you’re living, until the new world, you will have tribulation. And the word tribulation there is just a very general term for difficulty. Life is hard, and you will go through seasons of difficulty, suffering, sickness, loss, spiritual, mental, physical battles, relational conflict. It will happen. He’s not being morbid; he’s just saying this is what it means to live in a fallen world.
I think as we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thanksgiving weekend, I know it sounds morbid, but I do think it sets us up to be grateful when we’ll take a moment and say, let’s look back on this year. It kind of caught me off guard, because I’m not one to look back and just stay in past hurts. When I took a few minutes to write out what happened this year with some very difficult things at the beginning of the year, and then moving my dad down here, and my dad dying, and then right into COVID, and all the leadership challenges, racial tension, politics — all this stuff and then one thing after another. I was like, “Wow, no wonder this year seemed so long.”
The words of Christ are true, even in America. Our suffering may look different from our brothers and sisters in other countries. But I think as Americans, we can tend to miss out on grace Christ has for us because we look at what they’re suffering, and we say that’s real suffering. We’re not really suffering, which relatively speaking, may be true. But the fact is, we need grace to help in time of need, just like our brothers and sisters do. So, it’s helpful. Let’s take a few minutes to actually write that out right now. And it doesn’t have to just be everything. It could be one thing that’s been most difficult for you this year. And then don’t stop there. We’re not going to just swim in our sorrow here. Notice the next statement. In me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. In me, while you live in the world, still in the midst of the tribulation, in me you may have peace. Take heart, I’ve overcome all this that feels so overwhelming.
And I think it would be super encouraging for us to take a minute and say, “Okay, Lord. Where have you been through this?” And he’s right there with us. His promises are real and strong. And if you are a follower of Jesus, you’re clinging to those promises. And it will do us well to take a moment to rehearse that — how he has met us in our time of need, how he has sustained us and filled us with peace and poured out his love.
So, let’s do this right now. Let’s take a few minutes. Write out, as we look back at this past year, what has been difficult and then how have I experienced Christ’s peace in the midst of this difficulty? And maybe even for some of us, we say, “I don’t know that I have.” Well, that may be a helpful insight. Why not? Do I need to go to my life group and say, “These promises in John 16:33 are wonderful, but I have no clue what this means and no experience of this. Would you pray for me?” So, let’s take a few minutes to do this right now.
Jesus, you give us what we need. You tell us what we need to know. You have said these things to us that in you we can have a peace that will not come from any other source, a peace that no one can take away or no news report can steal. In this world we will have tribulation. We will experience difficulty. But we can be encouraged. You have overcome. You are the victor.
We know where this is heading. Even if we don’t know exactly how one day will lead to another and what will be around the next corner, we know where we are going. We know who oversees everything. The peace that comes when we who were enemies with you have now been reconciled by the death of Jesus when we experience this life, this joy, this peace. Thank you. Thank you. I pray specifically for some who are right in the midst of battling with loneliness or discouragement. Father, they need to hear this. Yes, in the world we will face difficulty. But in you there is peace — your stabilizing, sanctifying, pruning, transforming peace. You are the God of peace. Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace. So, Father, work these promises into our hearts we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.