In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read John 14: 15-31
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” These were some of Jesus’ most comforting words to the disciples as he prepares them for his inevitable departure. They were his parting words, an important segment of his farewell speech heading to the cross, and they were wrapped around the provision of the Holy Spirit after he departs their presence.
Jesus promised his disciples to give them “another Counselor” to be with them forever – the Spirit of truth. Why? Because he loved them so much and he wanted them to continue to obey him long after he left their world. He pledges, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of Jesus, “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” This gift is another expression of his outstretched arms of love.
Jesus offers his peace everywhere he goes, even to the very end when he promises to comfort his disciples in their grief at the time of his departure, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace” (John 16: 33). And, he offers peace as he enters the place where the disciples gather after his crucifixion, death and resurrection, “Peace be with you!” (John 20: 19).
The peace that Jesus promises is granted by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. God’s peace is not something that’s manufactured by human effort or desire. It’s not to be found in the world that surrounds us, nor is it found in that which we seek to have as an alternative to the Spirit. We don’t find peace in political decisions, in times of warfare success, in business enterprise, or in athletic, academic, or any other form of accomplishment or acumen. True peace only comes from God.
The peace of Christ is to “rule our hearts” (Col. 3: 15) since we are called to be filled with the peace of God which “transcends all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). During times of greeting one another in worship we offer each other “the peace of Christ” as a response to the Word, in the preparation for the offering and the Eucharist. And, in our fellowship with one another, we extend peace as an ongoing reminder that we are representatives of the Prince of Peace.
Jesus grants us peace in the midst of a tumultuous world. Will you go first to Jesus for the peace you long to embrace? Receive the Holy Spirit, the promised Counselor, who will guide you into peace. Behold Jesus in his provision of peace for your troubled soul; believe in the gospel of peace found solely in Jesus; belong to those who genuinely pass the peace; and become a peace-maker forever.