Sermon

Advent: The Peace of Christ (John 14:27)

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Your spouse can neither give nor take your peace. No one can. If you are a Christian, your peace has been given to you by Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:27, “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.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem “Christmas Bells” was written during a time of great trial in his life. His wife had tragically died a few years earlier and he just received word that his eldest son had been gravely wounded in the Civil War. It was at this time that he composed his poem. One of the sections is very important as it reveals his inner peace in a time of conflict:

In despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, The right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

God is not dead nor does he sleep; therefore, we can have true and lasting peace. Last week we learned that Jesus brings us hope. This morning, we shall learn that Jesus brings us peace: with God and with ourselves. Jesus also helps us pursue peace with others.

  1. Peace with God. First and foremost, Jesus brings peace with God. Have you made peace with God? Romans 1:18 says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Through Jesus, God forgives us (Eph 1:7) “by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” (Col 2:14). We are forgiven and reconciled to God. We are declared not guilty (justified) and now have peace with God (Rom 5:1). Christ’s death was a substitutionary death on behalf of His people. Christ’s death was God’s way to propitiate (satisfy) His wrath and expiate (atone for and remove) our sin. Jesus brings peace to His children and there is not one shred of wrath or enmity towards us. When God sees us, He sees Christ in us and delights in us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Peace with God is the basis for all other peace.
  2. Peace with Myself. Jesus also brings peace with yourself. For many people, their biggest critic stares back at them in the mirror. The greatest enemy of peace with yourself is pride. Pride manifests itself in two main ways: 1) Thinking too highly of ourselves and 2) Thinking too lowly of ourselves. When we think too highly of ourselves, we believe we are great and we expect others to agree with us. When we think too lowly of ourselves, we believe we are being treated unfairly and we wish others would have pity on us. In both ways, we get upset and/or depressed when people do not treat us the way we expect. Jesus frees us from both forms of pride by helping us to stop thinking so much about ourselves. The key to peace with yourself is meekness and humility. C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” True humility is looking at yourself through God’s eyes. You are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10) created in His image (Gen 1:26). God’s love is great and His plan is to turn our focus off of ourselves and on to Him. Having peace with yourself helps you pursue peace with others.
  3. Peace with My Neighbor. The Bible never promises peace with your neighbor, but Jesus enables you to have peace as you pursue peace with your neighbor (Rom 12:18). Because of sin it is impossible to live at peace with everyone; but, with Jesus, you can have peace even in the midst of conflict. Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is part of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). Your peace comes from God, not from everyone liking you. Jesus said the greatest command was to love God (Matt 22:37) and the second is to love your neighbor (Matt 22:39). In response, a man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan in order to show that the proper question is not “Who is worthy to be my neighbor?” but “Who is in need of mercy?” Through Jesus, we can have peace with our neighbor because we love our neighbor. In this life, we encounter two types of neighbors: friends and enemies. With our friends, it is easy to have peace because we receive peace in return. With our enemies, it is difficult to have peace because we do not receive peace in return. How do we respond then to our enemies? Our response to both types of neighbors are the same. We are to be a neighbor to all and to help them in their time of need (Rom 12:20).

Do you hear the bells on Christmas Day pealing for “Peace on earth, goodwill to men?” If you give into despair, you will think that God is not there or does not care. But, if you know Jesus, really know Him; you know that God is not dead nor does He sleep. He will bring peace on earth and goodwill to men. Find true and lasting peace in Jesus.

Important Verses on Peace

  • 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).
  • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
  • For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (Eph 2:14-15)
  • And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
  • and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 1:20).
  • Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5:23).
  • Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
  • And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18).