St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

True and Lasting Peace

Sermon on John 14:25-27
Text: “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.”
     You can’t turn on the news without them reporting on some sort of violence or conflict in our world.  There is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There is unrest in the Middle East.  There is civil war in Africa.  People long for peace, yet they realize that there won’t be any.  That is the problem with peace in the world.  Oftentimes, when two parties agree to peace , there are still little pockets of hostility that break out.  Even if peace is managed to be brought about in one area of the world, it won’t be too long before there is conflict someplace else.  This morning we are going to look for TRUE AND LASTING PEACE.  1. Although It Is Offered By The World, 2. It Is Only Given By The Holy Spirit.
     Jesus said to his disciples in verse 27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.”  The world does try to offer peace.  One of the ways in which it tries is, as we spoke of earlier, the absence of hostilities.  People actually feel that there can be peace on earth, where all nations and people live together in peace and harmony.  If that is the case, why hasn’t it happened yet?  The world has been in existence for several thousand years.  Yet, there is no Utopia, no place where people live together peacefully, where there is no violence.  No matter how idealistic people might talk, there will be no peace between nations, because people are selfish and sinful.  Jesus said as much in Matthew 24:6&7, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
     The world tries to offer peace of mind.  One of the best ways, the world would say, is to be financially secure.  If you have enough money in the bank, enough assets, you can have peace of mind.  But, be honest.  If you had all the money you wanted, would that truly give you peace of mind?  Isn’t there always the drive to get more and more?  You can never rest until you have such and such amount.  The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, said it well, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Ecc. 5:10)  There is no peace of mind here.
     Connected with this is the fear that it will all be gone.  People worry about the wealth that they have.  The very wealth that was supposed to bring them peace of mind doesn’t do so.  Rather, it causes them to worry all the more.
     Another place where people search for peace of mind is trying to find peace for their troubled consciences.  Some, unfortunately, turn to self-destructive means such as the abuse of alcohol or drugs.  They may look to others to help them with their troubled consciences.  These people will tell them that they have nothing to feel guilty about.  There’s no reason for you to feel guilty.  They try to numb the conscience by telling them that they only need to look out for themselves, or, if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s OK.  But, no matter how hard they try, the troubled conscience will still come forward and drive people to despair.  As Isaiah wrote, “The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.  ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” (57:20,21)
     Sometimes, we, too, are tempted to look to the world for peace.  We get earth bound in our sight and, sometimes, even think that we have found peace of mind in the things of the world.  However, at those times, we are like former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.  Adolph Hitler had invaded Czechoslovakia.  The British sent Chamberlain to speak with him.  Adolph Hitler promised to stop there.  Upon returning to England, Chamberlain proclaimed “peace in our time.”  Of course, you know what Hitler did after that.  He soon invaded Poland, and World War 2 ensued.  So much for “peace in our time.”  The same holds true when we seek the peace that the world offers.  It may put off trouble for awhile, but eventually they will return.
     Where can we look for peace?  Jesus tells us in our text, “Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give you.”  Peace is found in Jesus Christ alone.  It is a peace that is given as a gift.  To further comfort us, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  True and lasting peace comes from Jesus alone.  It doesn’t come from the world and the glittering things it offers.
     This peace comes from knowing Jesus.  The only way that we can get to know him is through his Word.  He is no longer physically with us to teach us all that things that we need to know, as he was with his disciples.  Yet, Jesus also realized that his disciples would need to be taught, even after he was gone.  Jesus said in verses 25&26, “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to them.  This occurred fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, the day which we celebrate today, Pentecost.
     Earlier we read how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples.  As proof of his presence, the disciples began to speak in foreign languages, which they had never learned.  Tongues of fire appeared upon their heads.  As a result of the Holy Spirit’s working through the disciples, 3,000 people became believers that day.  Since Jesus had ascended into heaven, he wanted to let the disciples know that they were not going it alone.  The Holy Spirit would be there to help them.
     Jesus told his disciples what the Holy Spirit would do for them.  He would, “teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  After Jesus would be gone, the Holy Spirit would call to mind all of the things that Jesus had done and said.  He would also show them the importance of all the Jesus did.  He would, also, cause them to write these things down do that they might be shared with future generations.  As it says in 2 Peter 1:21, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
     The Holy Spirit also enters our lives through the Word and Baptism.  As Peter said, when he concluded his sermon on that first Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)  The Holy Spirit enters our lives and creates faith.  Through that Spirit-born faith, we are at peace.  We have true and lasting peace.
     We have peace against that troubled conscience.  How often doesn’t our conscience flare up every day over the sinful things that we have thought, said, or spoken.  There was the angry word that passed our lips, the lustful thought that we entertained, the laziness of not doing what needed to be done.  Each one of us has our own list of things that trouble our conscience.  The troubled conscience can easily be led to despair, especially when we look at the Scriptures which tell us that where there is sin, there is condemnation.  However, the Holy Spirit points us to the cross and says to us, ‘Do not despair.  Your sins are paid for.  Jesus died for them.’  He also points us to an empty tomb, showing us that Jesus has risen from the dead.  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can be and are at peace with God.  This is the peace that the angels sang about the night that Jesus was born, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)   The angels announced the peace that is ours because Jesus came to the earth to be our Savior.  We are at peace with God.
     Because we are at peace with God, we also have peace of mind.  Paul, in his letter to the Romans posed the rhetorical question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)  The answer, of course, is no one.  No matter what may come our way, no matter what Satan might throw at us, we know that we will not be overwhelmed.  Even the darkest days need not trouble us, because God is at our side and he has given us this promise, which is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  We have God’s own promise that we will be able, with his help, to stand whatever may come our way.  This gives the Christian great peace of mind.
     We, also, know that the peace of heaven awaits us.  Listen to the beautiful description of heaven given in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  This certainty of eternal peace also gives us peace of mind, because we know that, no matter how rotten it gets during our time on this earth, it will all come to an end.  It’s only temporary.  However, the peace and joy that will be ours in heaven will last an eternity.  That is true and lasting peace.
     People like to talk about peace, but very few ever find it.  The reason for this is that they are looking in all the wrong places.  They look to themselves, to others and to the things of this life.  True and lasting peace, however, cannot be found there.  It only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, which is created in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Enjoy that peace that is yours and share that peace with those who are still looking for it.  Amen.