We are facing a world that seems to be experiencing more and more unrest. The events of the last few months have seen health unrest, economic unrest and social unrest. Yet in the midst of this unrest is a promise Jesus made to his disciples, which is much needed today. Here is the promise from John 14:27:
“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.”
I am sure you would agree that right now peace is what we need in our hearts. With that in mind, this is a fantastic time to understand the meaning and context of John 14:27, because if there ever was a day crying out for peace, this is that day.
What Does "Peace I Leave with You, My Peace I Give to You" Mean?
For many people, peace can mean the absence of conflict or trouble. While this is a definition of peace I don’t believe that is what Jesus was talking about here. This peace that Jesus was talking about means rest, quiet or a stillness in your heart. It is not the absence of trouble, but it exists in spite of trouble.
This peace pushes through all the disturbing circumstances that life can throw at you. It gives you the ability to endure and be calm even in the face of extreme turmoil. This peace doesn’t eliminate conflict or trouble, but gives you the ability to endure through it. Consider it an inner confidence that you know God will come through in this situation, and that removes your fear and worry and replaces it with peace.
What Is the Context of John 14:27?
Now that we have laid a foundation for the meaning and context of John 14:27, let’s look a little further and get some more understanding. The discourse we see in John 14 seems to be a continuation of instruction and teaching that Jesus was giving his disciples at the last supper. If you want to get a sense of the full conversation, you need to go back to the beginning of chapter 13.
When you read John 13:1 you will understand the motivation behind what Jesus would do and what he tells his disciples.
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
The ultimate motivation for Jesus actions, instructions and comfort we see in chapters 13 and 14 was because he loved his disciples. In fact, he loved them to the end, knowing he was about to return to the Father, knowing the events that were about to happen, knowing that they would be on the verge of falling apart once they saw him get arrested, be crucified, and eventually die.
He wanted them to have reassurance along with peace and comfort. This is where his heart was. He was being faithful to the ones God had entrusted him with. Here are the highlights of some of the things he says and does in John 13 and 14:
- He washes the disciples’ feet.
- He tells them of Judas’ betrayal.
- He encourages them to love each other.
- He tells them he will go and prepare a place for them and will come back for them.
- He promises them the Holy Spirit.
- He leaves them with peace.
This just shows the amazing character of Jesus; he left nothing out and truly prepared his disciples. He understood that it was about to get rough for them and he wanted them to not be worried or troubled.
How Does the Verse Appear in Different Translations?
Sometimes, verses can read differently in other translations. This can often help us to gain a better understanding of the author’s original meaning. So, let’s take a look at John 14:27 in a few other translations:
NLT - I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
CEV - I give you peace, the kind of peace only I can give. It isn't like the peace this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid.
The Message - I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left — feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
ERV - I leave you peace. It is my own peace I give you. I give you peace in a different way than the world does. So don’t be troubled. Don’t be afraid.
The Living Bible - I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
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How Is Jesus' Peace Different Than the World's "Peace"?
The answer to this question is very simple. Peace that the world gives is dependent mostly on the circumstances. When everything lines up, life is good, and there are no problems, this is when a measure of peace comes. Peace, by the world’s standards, is simply the absence of any problems, disturbances, or inconveniences. This is what I will call outer peace.
The peace that Jesus gives is far different from that. It is not dependent on circumstances. This peace flows in the midst of persecution, trouble, disappointment, confusion, and anxiety. Jesus recognizes that he would not always remove you from the challenging situations of life. He never promised to do that. What he did promise is that in spite of the situations in life, he will give you peace.
There is an old song people would sing about joy. It goes “the joy that I have the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.” I guess this song needs another chorus because the same thing is true of God’s peace. The world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.
How Can We Accept The Peace of Jesus?
When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, he outlined the secret of obtaining this lasting peace that Jesus has made available to us:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When you go through life, there will be moments of anxiety, worry, nervousness, and fear. Jesus does not want you living in anxiety so he offers you a remedy for it…peace.
However, the path to receiving this peace comes from giving every situation to God in prayer. When you do this, God’s peace crowds out anxiety in your life. In fact, this verse literally means that peace will stand guard and watch over your mind, fighting back and keeping out all potential feelings of anxiety.
This peace doesn’t mean the situation will resolve or dissipate. In fact, the situation could get worse. Yet regardless of what happens, if you follow this instruction and give it to God in prayer, then you will experience his peace. When this peace arrives, the need to be troubled or afraid departs.
Peace is such a wonderful gift that Jesus has left you. He wants you to experience the fullness of his peace. This is the meaning and context of John 14:27. He didn’t just leave peace. He really wants you to have peace.
Getting to this place of peace won’t come from worry or stress. It will come from resting in the loving arms of your savior. Knowing that he is in control and that he will carry you through any situation that life has to offer. What Jesus said to his disciples still rings true today, he will love you to the end. When you let that sink deep into your spirit and this reality becomes true to you, there is only one by product of this – peace. This truly is a peace that no one in the world could ever give you.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Yolya
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.