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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 79 - John 14:27 - The Divine Legacy of Peace Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




The Divine Legacy Of Peace.


"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you."-John 14:27.



     Surely "never man spake like this man"! Well might men wonder at "the gracious words which proceeded out of his lips." Grace was poured into his lips, and out of his lips grace flowed forth to the sons of men. He had the tongue of the learned, that he might speak words in season to the weary (Isaiah 1:4), and blessed were the words he spake to such.

     Never did any one enter so deeply and tenderly into our feelings; anticipating, with his words of sympathy and consolation, every sorrow and want! What love is here! What thoughtfulness and sympathy! What majesty too! For who but one who knew that He had come from God and was going to God,-that He Himself was the infinite source of peace,-could say, "Peace I leave with you," &c. The words here uttered are certainly the assurance to us of the love and power of the Promiser. What He has promised, He is able also to perform.

     The words are still fresh and new. They can never grow old; for He who spoke them is the same "yesterday, to-day, and for ever." They were spoken for us in these last days as truly as for the ages past. Christ meant us when he uttered them. Mark here, (1.) the legacy; (2.) the gift; (3.) the contrast; (4.) the consolation.

     I. The legacy. "Peace I leave with you." This is the parting gift of one who was about to depart. He Himself was bidding farewell, but he was not to take his peace away along with him. He brought it when he came ("peace on earth"); and He leaves it behind him as a heavenly relic. His presence had been the source of peace to them, and His absence was not to dry it up. That source would remain the same. Present or absent, far off or near, on earth or in heaven, He was still to be the fountain of their peace. The world would be a blank without Him no doubt; but he was leaving behind Him a peace which would cheer and gladden. It was not all that they had when He was with them, nor was it all they were to have when He returned; but still it was much; enough to comfort, to bless, to shed light upon the darkness of their way. In the world there was to be tribulation, in Him peace. The peace of God was to rule in their hearts. They were to abide in peace, and peace in them!

     II. The gift. "My peace I give unto you." This is evidently something in addition to the former clause. The peace is not merely something left, but positively given: "I give." It is not lent or sold, but given; it is Christ's own gift; free and unconditional; His peace is like Himself, a gift to us; unsolicited, unpurchased, unmerited. But the striking expression here is "my peace"; Christ's own peace; peace altogether peculiar; transcending in nature and in fullness all other peace. What then was Christ's peace?

     (1.) It was the peace of a conscience on which there never rested the shadow of a sense of guilt. It was pre-eminently "a good conscience"; a conscience void of offence. Whence comes our dispeace? From a sense of guilt upon the conscience. It is an evil conscience that disquiets us. The least speck or shadow of guilt breaks our peace. Now in Jesus there was the perfection of a good conscience. Not a shadow ever rested there. It is a blessed thought that there was once here a man like ourselves, whose conscience was never touched with the slightest stain of guilt; who never had to regret one thought, or recall one word, or wish one action undone. What must have been the peace possessed by Him; profound, unutterable; even in the midst of a stormy world. It is into this profound peace of conscience that He would lead us. Of that very peace He would make us partakers. The result of our "receiving" Him, or "believing on his name," is to bring us into that same state of conscience and that same kind of peace which He who knew no sin possessed. Our vessels are indeed small, and can contain little; His was large, and could contain much. But the kind or quality of that peace which fills them is the same. He has made peace by the blood of His cross; yea, He is our peace; and as soon as we come to know this and take Him as our peace, we are made partakers not merely of peace, but of that which he here calls "my peace."

     2. It was the peace of one entirely obedient to the Father's will. It was to do that will that He came; and His life was the doing of it. "I delight to do thy will, O my God." "Not my will but thine be done." As in all obedience there is peace, so in obedience to such a will, from such a being as the Son, there must have been a peace passing all understanding; a peace altogether infinite; a peace proportioned to the entireness and perfection of the obedience. Such an obedience had never been rendered before; and such a peace had never been possessed, either on earth or heaven, by man or angel. It is into this peace that He leads us,-peace perfect and profound; peace not springing from nor proportioned to our obedience, but to his; the peace of which his obedience to the Father is at once the foundation and the measure.

     3. It was the peace of one whose peculiar constitution of person made him partaker of peculiar peace. He was "the Word made flesh "; Son of God and Son of Man; and as such He was a vessel of infinite dimensions; capable of containing a peace such as no one else could do. Into this vessel of infinite capacity all fullness of peace was poured by the Father; and out of this vessel, this peace is poured into us;-not to the same extent, but still in proportion to our capacity. It is of the divine peace of the God-man that we are made partakers. What peace is there like this? As the grapes of Eshcol were of peculiar delicacy, and the cedars of Lebanon of peculiar beauty, and the gardens of Solomon of peculiar fertility and fragrance, so was this peace which filled the Christ of God peculiarly excellent; and of this peculiar peace He gives his saints the promise,-"My peace I give unto."

     4. It was the peace of one whose peculiar relationship to the Father made him possessor of peculiar peace. There is something in filial peace, the peace of a son, as resulting from the connection between his father and himself, and his own peculiar standing in the house, which cannot well be described. How much more is this true of the peace of Him who is the only begotten Son of God? His must have been peace as special as it was infinite,-the peace poured into the bosom of the beloved Son by the Father himself. This is not the peace of a servant, or a friend, but the peace of a Son,-and such a son! This divine and filial peace, the peace of the only begotten of the Father, He makes over to us as his free gift,-"My peace I give unto you." And this becomes all the truer and more blessed when they to whom He gives the peace are themselves sons of God! The Father pours a special peace from his paternal bosom into the bosom of his beloved Son; and that Son pours this special peace into the bosom of those who are partakers of his sonship,-truly sons of God!

     5. It was a peace that could never be destroyed. The peace is like Himself, and like Him from whom He receives it,-eternal and unchangeable,-peace partaking of his character as the eternal One, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. It is peace begun now,-given even here,-it is peace to be perpetuated in the eternal kingdom; peace without end, or interruption, or change for ever.

     Such is Christ's gift to his own!  It is precious, perfect, divine. It is like himself. It is a peace which passeth all understanding. What a treasure for earth! And what an earnest of the fuller treasure in store for us when He comes again. For great as is the peace which He gives just now, it is nothing to the peace in reserve for us hereafter. He gives it to his own; and He bids all men draw near to become his own! Come unto me and I will give you rest, is his first message; and his second is like unto it,-"My peace I give unto you."

     III. The contrast. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." In all aspects there is a contrast between Christ and the world; with nothing of likeness or sympathy. But it is not of himself that He here speaks, but of his gifts and manner of giving. Christ's peace and the world's are opposites; so are his giving and the world's.

     As to the peace;-

     (1.) Christ's peace is perfect, the world's is partial and imperfect; no depth, no greatness about it. It is and has been a poor meager thing at its best.

     (2.) Christ's peace reaches the conscience, the world's does not. It soothes the conscience asleep, but that is all. It intoxicates, but gives no rest to the inner man. It is not the offspring of a purged or pacified conscience.

     (3.) Christ's peace is satisfying, the world's unsatisfying. The peace which comes in any way, from any region of this evil world, cannot fill. It meets none of our spirit's cravings and longings. It does not feed our hunger or quench our thirst. It leaves us as empty as before. It speaks peace when there is none.

     (4.) Christ's peace is steady, the world's wavering. The world itself is unstable, and so are all its gifts; especially that of peace. This is easily ruffled, easily broken, ever changing.

     (5.) Christ's peace is holy, the world's unholy. Christ's peace is everlasting, the world's soon ended. At the longest, the world's peace is but for a lifetime; but seldom does it last half as long; more generally, a day or an hour. Eternal peace is Christ's gift!

    As to the giving;-

     (1.) Christ's giving is free; none of the world's gifts are such. He gives like himself, and as He gave himself.  The world bargains and sells.

     (2.) Christ's giving is genuine; the world's is a pretence. The world wishes us peace; this is its daily salutation; but all is hollow. Christ means what He says when He wishes us peace!

     (3.) Christ's giving is ungrudging The world has no pleasure in giving; is not generous and loving. Christ gives as a King,-in full-hearted love; He upbraids not.

     (4.) Christ's giving is immediate; that of the world is tardy. The world keeps us waiting. Christ does not. His word is now!

     (5.) Christ's giving is irrevocable, the world often takes back what it gave. His peace is sure, He does not recall it; nor shall, forever.

How vivid the contrast! Can any one hesitate in choosing? To reject the world's false peace and to take Christ's true peace, is of all things the most reasonable that can be proposed to man! Consider the contrast well, and act accordingly.

     IV. The consolation. "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." There will be many things to trouble and terrify in such a world; a world where all is hatred, enmity, persecution. But against all this provision has been made; and that provision is the peace of Christ. No doubt, He gives other things also for days of trial,-strength, faith, hope,-but it is his peace that is the special antidote,-the pre-eminent sustainer and comforter in evil times.

     It is peace; and it is such a peace! It keeps the soul unmoved when the tempest is raging round. It makes us feel as if hidden in the hollow of Christ's hand; defended by his shield; embraced by his arm. It is light in darkness; it is a strong tower in the midst of assailing hosts. Let the world reproach or persecute; we have a peace within which more than meets all its reproaches and persecutions. Let Antichrist and Satan rage; the divine peace within keeps us immoveable. Let bodily pain assail us; we are sustained by the peace of Christ. Let sorrow, bereavement, losses, compass us about; we are kept calm and cheerful by the peace of Christ.  Our hearts are not troubled with anxiety or trial; nor are they afraid in the midst of persecution and reviling.

     Christ's peace within us, and Christ himself as our companion by our side, we go forth on our pilgrimage as men who are in possession of a heavenly charm which preserves them in patience and tranquillity; which makes them invincible; nay, victorious; more than conquerors through Him that loved them.