We live in a world at war. On Thursday, February 23rd, we woke to the news that Russian bombs were falling in Ukraine. My first thought was for my precious new friend, Tatiana, whose parents were in Odessa, shocked at what was unraveling before their eyes and unsure how to (or even if they should) escape their war-torn nation. They never thought they would live to witness a full-scale invasion of their home. *

As horrifying as war is, it’s nothing new. The Treaty of Paris could no more have stopped the Russian Invasion of Ukraine than the Treaty of Versailles stopped Hitler. And yet, as awful as this new war is, the horror unfolding in Ukraine simply mirrors the spiritual battle each and every one of us face each and every moment of our lives. We need peace, a peace that reaches to the inner recesses of our hearts, a peace that is true and lasting. We need the peace only Christ can give.

The Peace of Christ

On the night of his arrest, the disciples were tucked away with Jesus, sharing with him what they didn’t yet realize would be their final meal together before the fury and terror of the cross. But Jesus knew. Furthermore, Jesus knew where he was going, and he’d told his disciples repeatedly that he would be arrested, killed, and raised on the third day. Though they’d seen his miracles and believed with God-given faith that he is the Messiah, they still didn’t fully grasp what it all meant. They didn’t realize that David’s King of Zion (Psalm 2) and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) are one and the same. They didn’t understand all the implications of his Messianic mission, but Jesus knew that from the moment of his arrest they would desperately need his peace. So, he promised:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

The disciples aren’t the only followers of Jesus who need his peace. Christians today still face confusion, pain, fear, warfare, and suffering for which we need Christ’s balm of peace. From the moment Cain rose up against his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8), peace has been the exception rather than the rule for the human race. Scripture teaches that the warfare we see in the world around us stems from our inward fallenness. Therefore, the world has nothing to offer us that can truly meet our need. We need the peace that Jesus offers. There are at least three ways in which the peace Christ gives is unlike the peace offered by the world.

A Peace Unlike Any Other

A quick definition of peace is, on one hand, to say that it’s the absence of conflict, and on the other hand it’s the presenceof calm and tranquility. When Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, his disciples experienced the dramatic change from the pounding waves and rushing wind to the stillness and calm of the sky and the sea. But that was only an external peace—an exchange of circumstances. What our Lord is speaking about in John 14:27 is the peace of an internal calm and tranquility in the hearts and minds of his followers in spite of the storms that rage around us. The peace Christ gives is unlike the peace given by the world because it is inward, not external.

The peace that Jesus promises is also genuine, not the counterfeit peace offered by the world. “Whereas man is gripped in his own chaos, God has within himself true peace to give. Furthermore, God is seeking peace with us and offers peace to this world, even while it remains at war with him.”[1] As sinners, we have been at war with our Creator since the Garden of Eden. There was no possibility for peace with God until Jesus fulfilled his divine mission: making atonement for our sins and turning away God’s wrath by his death on the cross. When we believe into Christ, we are “justified by faith,” and therefore “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). In Ephesians 2 we learn that “in Christ Jesus” and by his blood, we have been brought near to God because Jesus himself “is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). Those who are in Christ not only experience peace with God as an absence of our former conflict, but we also experience the presence of the peace of God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and minds.

Finally, the peace Christ gives is unlike any the world has to offer because it is eternal, not temporary. The disciples were concerned with all of Jesus’ talk about leaving them. But the only way that they would gain any of the blessings which he’d promised was for him to leave them and go where they could not follow—through his sacrificial death on the cross to atone for their sins, rising on the third day, and 40 days later ascending into heaven. Only then could he send the Holy Spirit so they and we could follow him through faith, united to him in his death and resurrection, eventually to live eternally in heaven, where he went to prepare a place for us. But until then, because of the cross and his ascension, he is at hand, right here with us, by his Holy Spirit.

This is the peace that Christ offers, the peace that we need in a world perpetually at war. A peace of inward tranquility in spite of outward storms, genuine peace with God and of his presence through the Holy Spirit, a peace which will last eternally in the glory of dwelling forever with Christ in heaven. This is the peace which overcomes the passions within and the warfare without. This peace is possible only because Jesus went to the cross—to him be glory forever and ever.

[*By God’s merciful kindness and the open-hearted hospitality of his people in Moldova and Romania, Tatiana’s parents are now safely with her in Colorado.]

[1] Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary (P&R: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2006) 624

About the Author:

Barbaranne Kelly

Barbaranne Kelly is a reader, writer, retreat speaker, and hospitality enthusiast. She and her husband Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas where she serves on the women’s ministry team and leads women’s Bible studies. She has been blogging ever since she accidentally registered for a blog while attempting to comment on a friend’s post and figured, “Why not?” She now writes for her own blog, Grateful, and for Women of Purpose, the women’s ministry blog of CPC. God has blessed Barbaranne and Jim with five fascinating children, two awesome sons-in-law, two amazing daughters-in-law, and four delightful grandsons. In all her roles it is Barbaranne’s sincere hope that she and those to whom she ministers may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.