His Peace, Our Peace
I now send you, to open their eyes…that they may receive forgiveness of sins… —Acts 26:17-18 (NKJV)
This verse is the greatest example of the true essence of the message of a disciple of Jesus Christ in all of the New Testament.
God’s first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words, “…that they may receive forgiveness of sins….” When a person fails in his personal Christian life, it is usually because he has never received anything. The only sign that a person is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our job as workers for God is to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light. But that is not salvation; it is conversion— only the effort of an awakened human being. I do not think it is too broad a statement to say that the majority of so-called Christians are like this. Their eyes are open, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today. When a person is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People may make vows and promises, and may be determined to follow through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sins.
This is followed by God’s second mighty work of grace: “…an inheritance among those who are sanctified….” In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.
Peace, Be Still
In Mark 4:35–41, when Jesus and His followers were making their way across the Sea of Galilee, they encountered a severe storm (v. 37). Jesus was asleep. His disciples were alarmed and fear-filled both before and after Jesus stilled the storm (vv. 40–41). With the words, “Peace! Be still” (v. 39 NIV)—which The Message renders, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind and water were chastened.
Nearly one hundred fifty years ago, Mary Ann Baker penned the words to the hymn “Peace Be Still” based on Mark’s account of Jesus’ miracle that night.
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies:
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will.
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
In the very next chapter, Jesus encountered disruptions of a different kind. A man under the control of unseen demonic forces (Mark 5:1–20); a woman plagued by unceasing bleeding (vv. 24–34); a pre-teen girl prematurely gripped by death surrounded by grieving family and friends (vv. 21–23, 35–43). Each faced disrupting difficulties. But each experienced peace—in mind and body and spirit—because the peace of Jesus became theirs.
As we navigate the turbulence of life, Jesus remains the ultimate source of peace to sustain us. The presence and power of the Prince of Peace can counter the storms we face like nothing else can. In our search for wholeness, we must make sure that Jesus is sought first and foremost. He can be trusted by those who seek Him.
Disciples in Turmoil
Words can disturb our peace, make us anxious, send us places in our hearts and minds that we’d rather not go. On the eve of His death, Jesus had gathered those closest to Him to share intimately with them. During the mealtime in John 13, several sets of disturbing words came from the mouth of Jesus.
“Deeply troubled” in his spirit, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” (v. 21).
As if the news of His betrayal wasn’t enough, Jesus then spoke of His departure. “Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going” (v. 33).
Finally, on that fateful evening, Jesus spoke unwelcome words to Peter when He said, “I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me” (v. 38).
This was the emotion-filled setting in which Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1).
John 14 offers a snapshot of the priceless peace we long for. Its source is Jesus. He bequeaths it to His followers, to whom He promised His Spirit (vv. 15–17). It is medicine for troubled hearts and an antidote for fear. The peace that Jesus offers is for those who understand His worth—those who recognize the limitations of “less-than-Jesus” remedies.
One day, because of Christ’s victory, the whole world will experience the true peace we all long for—shalom, the state of being in which wholeness and flourishing is the portion of all. We wait in eager expectation and longing for that day.
But as we wait, we cling to the reality that true peace can already be enjoyed in Jesus, God’s Son. And that’s a gift to be treasured. Among Jesus’ final words to His disciples that night is this comforting promise: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (v. 27).