Serenity Now and Forever
Read John 14:27-31 (ESV)
“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. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
What does the world prescribe for peace? How is it different from the peace that Jesus offers us?
In an old Seinfeld episode, Frank received a cassette tape from his doctor. Whenever Frank’s blood pressure got too high, the voice on the tape told him to say, “serenity now.” Later in the episode, another man warned that the method doesn’t work because it just bottles up all of the anger and frustration until you eventually explode. His famous line was, “Serenity now, insanity later.”
It’s a great illustration that the peace the world offers falls far short of the peace that Jesus offers. Many psychologists recommend things like meditation, exercise, breathing techniques, visualizing your happy place, getting out in nature, and using positive self-talk to gain some peace of mind. Now, some of these practices are more effective than others at improving our mental health. But none of them result in true, deep, and lasting peace.
In today’s passage, Jesus continued to say good-bye to His disciples and sought to leave them on a peaceful note. They were understandably confused and upset at some of the things He had just told them. One of them would betray Him? Even Peter would deny Him? Jesus was going to leave them soon and they wouldn’t be able to follow Him right away? Jesus also added some troubling information in today’s verses that the “ruler of this world,” AKA Satan, was coming for Him.
Now, Jesus knew and understood their fears and anxieties about what was just around the corner. He knew the future but they did not. He knew the big picture and fully understood how God was working in this situation. They did not. Thus, in John 14, Jesus reassured them that even though He was going away, He would send them a Helper (the Holy Spirit), and He promised to return again.
Today, we read that Jesus bequeathed His peace to them. Not a temporary, worldly peace. No breathing techniques. No blood pressure monitoring. No mantras or affirmations. But an otherworldly peace straight from the Source of peace. It is a peace from God that can only be experienced by those who are at peace with God. A peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Yes, Jesus was going away but He was returning to the Father. Yes, Satan was coming for Jesus but Satan had no claim on Jesus. God was still in control. Jesus was willfully obeying His Father and His obedience demonstrated His love for the Father (sound familiar?). Jesus even told them about these things in advance to bolster their faith when these events actually occurred. They didn’t fully understand all that He was saying to them but they soon would.
Here’s some really good news. All believers in Jesus are promised the same access to His peace. Even today. Here’s how to access the peace that passes all understanding: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). The apostle Peter urged believers to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
The Seinfeld episode was a humorous portrayal of a sad reality—much of the world does not experience the peace of Christ because they do not know the Lord. Chanting “serenity now” does not bring us any ultimate, lasting peace. But if we are at peace with God because we trust in Christ for our salvation, if we cast our anxieties on Him and keep our minds focused on Him, not our troubles, and if we make our requests known to Him through prayer with gratitude in advance, we can experience serenity now…and forever.
Lord, thank You for the gift of Your peace. When my heart is troubled and I am anxious, please calm my heart with reminders of Your truth. Help me to keep my mind stayed on You. Amen.
Reveal: Do you know of someone struggling with an anxious and troubled heart? Share a promise from God’s Word, reminding them of His perfect peace.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford