Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jesus' kind of peace John 14:23-29

Jesus offers his followers a peace the world can't give John 14:27.
His promised peace makes people whole, castes out fears, and calms troubled hearts. Jesus is offering שָׁלוֹם shalom. Martin Luther wrote "...the Hebrew word for ‘peace’ means nothing else than well-being." Martin Luther, vol. 24, Luther's Works, Vol. 24 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther's Works, John 14:27 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1961). This word heard in over 200 places in the Hebrew Scriptures like Isaiah 57:19 is a word of hope for all people in a broken world.

Corrie ten Boom detailed her experience of this kind of peace in her book Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle She writes of the peace she knew in God's presense prison and in concentration camps from walking close to God.

Often we had to go too early roll call, which started at 3:30 AM. Betsie and I would walk through the camp, and there were three of us present. Betsie said something, I said something, and the Lord said something. I can't tell you how but both Betsie and I understood clearly what He said. These walks were a bit of heaven in the midst of hell. Everything around us was blanck and dark, but in us there was a light that belonged to eternity.
Jesus is offering peace and wholeness for those who obey him. Jesus calls us to obey him as we hope for peace. Jesus calls to us: obey his commands. Serve (John 13:15) and love (John 14:34-35) as he does and He says peace will come. When I sin I chose to walk away from His commands. In my rebellion against God I head away from the wholeness/peace שָׁלוֹם shalom only He can give.

I'm a sinner--that means I have and sadly will again disobey God's commands. I have and will deny God's transcendent presence with me and those who my sins hurt. I have and fear I will walk away from His peace.  Jesus' command to obey sounds harsh command to my ears. I'd choose a softer word like follow. But Jesus didn't. He said obey meaning surrendering judgement and will to God. Obey means follow and trust His commands even if they don't make sense. Obeying for me, like my dog, means walking close with God in the path He's chosen. Once on the path or restored again to the path we find Christ's peace and wholeness.

In Jesus' day the Romans enforced their own kind of peace on the Mediterranean world. The Pax Romana was a military peace lasting nearly 200 years. Rome's peace came when the Roman Army beat down and defeated all other powers. This veneer of peace was enforced through fear and swift military intervention. One might imagine people tired of battle between Roman factions viewed the peace as a repreive. But others, on the Empire's edges, like Judea, fought hard against Roman occupation and oppression.

Jesus promised His followers wholeness not just the absence of open conflict. He promises a peace based not on fear of annihilation but on following in the way that leads to everlasting life. His offer of peace builds on relationship that starts with him coming to us and stepping into our lives (Mark 1:16-20) and inviting us to follow--to obey and to enter into peace and wholeness.
Pax, John

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