I have a riddle for you today. Can you name what I am describing? It is something a widower longs for and needs as he tries to go on without their beloved spouse. It is something parents need as they strive to raise their children correctly in a dangerous world of temptations and distractions. It is something the employee longs for who is being harassed at work on a daily basis and awakens each workday with a sense of dread and foreboding. It’s something a teenager desperately needs who is struggling to fit in, make the grade in school, and feel good about herself. It’s something a small child needs as he watches mom and dad argue. It is something the world has never had since the fall of Adam and Eve and, it never will on its own as hard as it may try.
So what is it? If you guessed peace, you are right! We long for peace in our world as political parties and nations rage against one another. We pray for peace in the lives of our loved ones as they face hardships. I have friends who battle depression and anxiety, and I pray they would receive peace of mind.
We also desire peace in our own lives. Sometimes we get so troubled and worried inside – even fearful – in our fight to raise children, battle health issues, wrestle with financial issues, or struggle with relational issues. I just read an article saying Americans are among the most anxious people on earth. As one teenager put it in this article, “We’re the first-generation who cannot escape our problems at all. We’re like little volcanoes. We’re getting this constant pressure from our phones, from our relationships, from the way things are in the world today.”
More people yearn for one thing more than anything else: inner peace. Without it they have no lasting happiness or security. You have to agree with me, life has gotten more complicated, and we are all looking for peace within.
In today’s passage, Jesus is promising peace to His disciples in a not-so-peaceful situation, in a not-so-peaceful world that hates Him. The anxiety and stress hung thick in the air that evening in the Upper Room when Jesus announced He would be leaving them to be arrested and crucified on a cross. Little did they understand the cross was all part of God’s plan to save His sin-sick world.
As Jesus tells them He’s leaving them, He also tells them they can’t come along. Of course, this made them feel troubled and afraid. They were filled with anxiety and fear. They had to be thinking, Leaving us? No! We’ll be on our own, abandoned, and alone. What will we do without Jesus? Oh, no!
The disciples had been with Jesus for three years, and they had a special bond of friendship they did not want to end. So they responded with their questions. Peter and Thomas both asked, Where are you going? Philip said, Lord, show us the Father, and that will satisfy us. Judas (not Iscariot) asked, How will you reveal yourself to us and not to the world. These men were very afraid and anxious about the present and the future without Jesus.
Jesus responds to their troubled hearts and minds with words of assurance. You will see me again someday. I am going to prepare a place for you in my Father’s house. I will come back and take you to me that where I am, you may be also. Nothing will end their relationship.
He went on to promise, I am giving you another Helper to be with you forever – the Holy Spirit. I won’t leave you orphaned. I’m coming to you. Those who love me and keep my word, my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Finally, Jesus said these words that we read earlier:
I said these things to you while I’m still with you, but the helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
The word Jesus uses here for the Holy Spirit is “Paraclete,” which has a wonderful cornucopia of meanings for us. It means advocate, helper, comforter, counselor. The Holy Spirit, Jesus says, will be with you like I have been with you to remind you of all I have said to you.
Who is He? He is God. He is Christ’s continuing presence with us, the Spirit of the living God. He is here to remind us of what Jesus said about the love of the Father for us. He directs us with His commandment to love one another as we have been loved. He is here to continually point you to the cross and the empty tomb. He reminds you that in Christ you have been died for, and you are a child of God forever. Nothing can separate you from His love. This Good News brings peace to the troubled soul.
Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, He is my peace given to you, my followers, as you live out your days in this broken world following and serving Me. The Holy Spirit = peace (Christ’s peace).
“Peace” was the usual Jewish greeting when friends met and parted, but Christ’s farewell words of peace were different from that which was current in the world. The peace the Spirit gives us is something deeper and more lasting. It is a peace which banishes anxiety and fear. It guards our hearts and our minds, according to the apostle Paul in the book of Philippians.
On this particular Sunday, we are celebrating a special day in the life of the Church called Pentecost. The book of Acts tells us the Lord’s promise was kept – the Holy Spirit has come. Those same disciples were in an Upper Room fifty days later in Jerusalem, waiting. Suddenly a great wind and tongues of fire hung over their heads, and they were empowered to preach the Gospel effectively in different languages. Peter gave a dynamite sermon, and three thousand people repented and received Christ that day.
The rest of the book of Acts describes the acts of the Holy Spirit in and through the disciples and those who came to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Imagine the scene later on Pentecost evening when things quieted in the Upper Room. Andrew says to Peter, It’s true. We’re not really alone, are we? Peter responds, You’re right, little brother. He came just as Jesus said. Three thousand people! No way we could have done that! It’s only by the Spirit’s power. I’m sure of it. Peace replaced anxiety in the Upper Room. Peace filled the deepest part of their beings as they looked ahead to the difficult assignment, which lay before them, given by Jesus to make disciples of all the nations. They knew they were not alone. The Holy Spirit gave them His peace.
The Spirit’s presence and help continues. Over the centuries and around the globe, He continues to awaken faith in Christ as the Gospel message of Jesus is communicated to people. He continues to guide and lead, comfort and help, empower followers of Christ as they live for Him as His witnesses in the world. We hear about conversions all the time. Lives are being changed through the Gospel.
Author Lee Strobel tells of his conversion story and the difference God made in his life:
“My daughter, Alison, was five years old when I became a follower of Jesus. All she had known in those five years was a dad who was profane and angry. I remember I came home one night and kicked a hole in the living room wall just out of anger with life. I’m ashamed to think of the times my little girl hid in her room to get away from me.
“Five months after I gave my life to Christ, my little girl went to my wife and said, ‘Mommy, I want God to do for me what he’s done for daddy.’ At age five! What’s she saying? She never studied the archaeological evidence regarding the truth of the Bible. All she knew was that her dad used to be hard to live with. But more and more, her dad is becoming this way, and if that is what God does to people, then sign her up! At age five she gave her life to Jesus.”
So what are we to do with this wonderful news of the Holy Spirit, our peace giver? Jesus tells us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled, and don’t be afraid.” Trust in Him and in His presence. We’re really not alone or abandoned. That, my dear friends, is our peace.
When I was a little boy, my dad made a bedroom for me in the basement of our home so I could have my own space. It was very dark down there and a lot of noise came from our furnace. It was very spooky. I was afraid, so my dad came down to be with me. I could sleep peacefully knowing someone – my dad – was with me. This is what the Holy Spirit does for us. He makes Himself known to us as we believe in Jesus.
Our call today is to believe in Jesus, and the same Holy Spirit will be present to guide you and empower you for witnessing. He will keep you in God’s peace. Pray each day for Him to breathe His life into you, fill your sails with His power and love to keep you confidently going, and shape you to be like Jesus – full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, which Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. Living in God’s Word, let Him speak words of life into your soul, bring to remembrance and enlighten you with His grace and love. Pray He will guide you, direct you, and speak to you. It is simply a matter of yielding to the Spirit, a willingness to obey what He tells you in the Word. Then you will realize, like so many have, you are not alone. He is with you, and you can experience Christ’s promised peace, which passes all understanding.
My wife Julie and I attended a funeral last month for a stillborn baby. As we sat in the sanctuary with family and friends, sorrow and grief was in the air. The baby’s parents gave the eulogy, and it was remarkable! Yes, they were sad, but they were also filled with strength and peace. Where did their peace come from? They told us it was the peace of knowing Christ. It was Gospel peace, the peace of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God to strengthen, reassure, and promise them, You are not alone. Your little one is in good hands, and so are you. I am with you.
May you have that kind of peace in your life. The Spirit is available. You simply need to ask Him in. It’s like the old gospel song,
“Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.”
May this be your prayer today.
This, my friend, is the way to find peace. Amen.
Pastor Steve Kramer