The following is a summary of a sermon I preached at Emmanuel Baptist Church on December 30, 2012.
As we spend time looking back at 2012, one of the clearest themes that stands out is a longing for peace. In some cases this peace is present, acting as a foreshadowing to a more lasting and richer peace that is longed for. In other stories, there is a clear longing for the peace that it is painfully absent.
Without understanding from where our peace comes, we will always search but never find, long for it but never be filled. Too often, we find ourselves searching for peace from false peace-givers: money, power, fame, recognition, pleasure, success, good grades, and even family. These can be good things, but when we look to them for what only God can give then we turn them into idols and false peace-givers.
In John 14:1-3 Jesus tells his disiples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
First, Jesus tells them to not let their hearts be troubled. The word translated as “troubled” also caries the idea of “being shaken.” As Jesus spoke these words, they had just finished the Last Supper in the upper room in Jerusalem and Jesus knew he was about to be betrayed, arrested, and crucified. He had just told the disciples he was going to be killed, and then he tells them to not be shaken, to not let their hearts be troubled.
Next, Jesus affirms their faith in God and tells them to trust in him. He’s transferring their faith in the Father to faith in Him, the Son, and then later (in v.18) promises to send them the Holy Spirit. God is utterly and completely trustworthy. They do not need to be shaken or troubled even though they’re walking down a very troublesome road (remember, these men were most likely teenagers and young men who had left everything to follow Jesus).
In order to give them peace and keep them from being shaken, Jesus points their attention heavenward, he reminds them of the big picture. Throughout the Bible we see that God’s peace is God’s presence. Whenever people long for peace, they receive the promise of God’s presence. Peace doesn’t mean an absence of suffering or adversity; it means that God is with us (2 Cor. 4:8-9, 14).
Jesus says that he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a room for his disciples. In fact, there are many rooms, not just a few rooms for a few very special guests. He’s going to prepare a place for us and will come to bring us to our forever home with God.
Jesus is our access to the Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Psalmist’s longing to see God’s face (Psalm 27:8-9, 51:11, 69:17, 80:7). Jesus is the preacher of peace because he brings us into God’s presence (Eph. 2:17-18). And what’s most incredible is that God himself came to us because we could not come to him (John 3:16-17) – this is the meaning of Christmas! Jesus Christ is the Messiah, Immanuel, God-with-us.
Don’t give up on peace, but make sure you’re looking for peace from the only One who can really give it. If saying “Jesus is my peace” sounds trite and simple to you, then maybe you need to reconsider from where you’re pursuing peace. Maybe you’re looking for peace from false peace-givers. Or maybe you’re looking for peace from God’s gifts, but not from God Himself – remember that peace is a fruit of the Spirit, which means it’s a byproduct of a loving and faith-filled heart towards God.
God’s presence is our peace. That’s not something we can look for through good health, happy families, a strong economy, or a godly president. 2012 had its mountaintops and its valleys, so will 2013. The secret of having peace is searching for it in the right place. Jesus Christ brings peace, because he brings us to the Father. The Holy Spirit is our advance payment, rely on Him to strengthen you for the remainder of the journey until your peace is paid-in-full.