The Peace of the Spirit (John 14:15–31)

Read John 14:15–31.

Have you ever thought to yourself, If only I had been alive when Jesus was here, then I would have no trouble living out my faith?

Or maybe it’s, If only I had been there in person to hear Him teach and see Him heal, then I wouldn’t struggle to know God loves me.

What about, If only I had witnessed with my own eyes what Jesus had to endure on the cross, then maybe I would finally be able to slay these sins, once and for all?

It’s understandable. From our vantage point, it appears the Jesus generation experienced something we can only dream about. Certainly, in one sense they did. Jesus even told the disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Luke 10:23–24). The disciples received something truly special. Jesus no longer walks on this earth. He was killed, buried, rose again, and has now returned to the Father. But it goes too far to say we must live the Christian life without Him. Just as the kingdom of God is already here and still yet to come, so too is Jesus’ presence already here with us and something we look forward to experiencing with His return.

Jesus tells His friends, “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). That’s a weird thing to say, isn’t it? Somehow, He’ll be gone (the world will no longer see Him), and yet He will still appear to His true disciples. He’ll leave but still be with them—and with us. This mystery has to do with the union of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Many of us have been taught, perhaps unintentionally, that the Holy Spirit was sent at Pentecost as a replacement for Jesus’ presence on earth. In short order, Jesus will point to this event, telling His disciples, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (16:7). That sounds a lot like Jesus is tagging out and the Holy Spirit is tagging in. But it’s not that simple. The Holy Spirit is fully God and yet also “the Spirit of [the] Father” and “the Spirit of Jesus” (Matthew 10:20; Acts 16:7). When we have the Spirit living inside of us, we also have the presence of the Father and the Son; we are welcomed into the eternal love of the Trinity—the boundless, unquenchable, bowl-you-over love of God.

Jesus says we show ourselves to be His true disciples when we love Him (John 14:21, 23). This love for Jesus, then, becomes the key to the kind of life our hearts were made for. He says, “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (v. 23). Jesus offers us nothing less than life with God—every moment of every day in His presence.

What exactly is life with God like? We could look to King David’s words for a clue. He wrote, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). That description is certainly true for the one who walks in the Spirit. Jesus, though, emphasized another aspect, perhaps because He knew the fear and anxiety that lay in store for His disciples: “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” (John 14:27).

The apostle Paul knew this peace. He described it as “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). In other words, it shouldn’t be; it’s a peace that doesn’t make sense in this world. It fills the believer when her every natural instinct is to let worry and anxiety take over.

It’s the sort of peace that allows a follower of Jesus in the Muslim world to suffer and die without recanting. It’s the peace that brings a disciple through a cancer diagnosis without succumbing to crippling fear. It’s the peace Jesus displays throughout the Gospels, the peace he wears each day of His earthly life. He is never shaken by the pressures put upon Him or by the threats of His enemies. He has perfect peace even as He walks toward the cross. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus’ peace doesn’t make sense in this world—because it doesn’t belong to this world. It’s from the realm of heaven, and it’s ours when we are joined to the Father and the Son by the Spirit.

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