The following is a reflection on John 14:27, as John 14:23-29 is the Gospel Lesson for the Sixth Sunday of Easter in Year C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
I’m currently reading Stanley Fish’s magnificent little book, How to Write a Sentence. He says that a good sentence is something to marvel at. Something to savor.
The twenty-seventh verse of the fourteenth chapter of John isn’t a sentence. It’s a verse. Depending on how you translate it, it’s at least two sentences. Maybe even three.
But, it is indeed worthy of marveling at. And savoring.
Particularly now. With bombs going off. Buildings collapsing. Chemical weapons being deployed. Plants exploding. Terrorists plotting. Hurricanes to clean up from. School children far-too-achingly-young in the crosshairs.
Oh, don’t we need something to savor? Something to loosen the bitter taste from the roof of our mouths?
And what does Jesus bring? On the night before his death? To us today?
Peace. His peace.
Not the world’s peace. Jesus doesn’t bring that sort of thing. As if the world has ever known peace long enough to lick a stamp.
No, Jesus brings the shalom of God, where everything is good and right. Where everything is in it’s place, and where there are no dark corners to shelter evil from the warm glow of God’s pure light. The kind of peace that walks on water, that stills the storm, and fills our jars to the brim with the finest of wines. The kind of peace that brings sight to the blind, restores hearing to the deaf, and tells the lame to get up and go home.
The kind of peace that comes to a tomb and renders it empty.
That kind of peace.
Where hearts never need be troubled—for what could ever cause such a stir in the presence of God’s Shalom?
Where there is nothing to fear. Nothing.
The kind of peace that bombs and storms and cancer and injustice and terrorists and dissidents and lobbyists and weapons of mass destruction and dark hairy beasts which go bump in the night—where none of those things which usher in the valley of the shadow of death can usher in even an ounce of fear.
Because there is no oxygen for fear to breathe. No room for fear to move. No water for fear to swim in.
Because the peace of Jesus has soaked us to the bone, and nothing can wring it out.
That’s what Jesus brings. To us.
And so let us marvel. Let us savor. And let us make it our mission to continue his mission, and take this peace—which passes all understanding—to the ends of the earth. And to the inner chambers of our hearts.
Because, O Jesus, do we ever need it.