Jesus Speaks: John 14:27

John 14:27 is one of my favorite verses in scripture. It’s a grand promise that Jesus gives to his people as he prepares to physically leave them. He promises them his peace. Not the peace of a ceasefire or a stalemate or a grand bargain but the peace of God himself: the relational peace the Father and Son and Holy Spirit have with each other.

“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

As one might expect, there’s much that can be said about Christ’s peace: How long does this peace last? How does one receive it? But as I was thinking about this verse, there appeared another question of near equal value, and that is the question: How does Jesus give? You’ll notice that after promising to give his peace to his people, he goes on to say that he doesn’t give as the world gives. Thus, it’s not just the gift that matters, but the way in which the gift is given.

We may say that it’s the thought that counts, but a well-chosen gift will always be better than a good thought behind a bad present. And in the reverse situation, a bad thought behind a good gift can hardly be considered good. When a child receives a present with the implication that he had better be an ace student from now on, it doesn’t fill him with happiness—particularly if he’s not academically gifted.

It’s not very loving when strings are attached, when a gift is given with the expectation that one day you will return the favor. It may be appreciated (“Thank you for the cash, Grandma.”) but one day it will result in receiver’s remorse (“What do you mean you’re not coming over for Christmas?”). These are the ways the world gives: It gives with expectation of return, as an investment that had better pay dividends.

Jesus does not give that way. Jesus gives his peace freely to his people. Jesus assures his disciples that this promise of peace is as free as the rain; so much so that he promises to pour it into their hearts without an I.O.U. He does this because he is the one who will bear all the cost of distributing his peace to his beloved children. And as he offers salvation freely to all who trust in him, so too is his peace freely given to all who trust him. No strings.

This is the character of our God, Jesus: He’s good and merciful and profoundly generous. Think of that the next time you pray to him; think of that as you follow him. And rejoice.

Matt Barker is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastor of Grace Reformed in Walkerton, Indiana. He married up to a wonderful wife who gives happiness and wisdom, and has a wonderful daughter who encourages fun and vigilante prayer.

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