Reader: “I am leaving you with a gift—”
Response: “peace of mind and heart.”
Scripture: John 14:27-29
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
What beautiful words! Jesus’ leaving us with a gift, not something that can be worked for or purchased. We are reminded of Aaron’s benediction from the First Testament, “. . . the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Num.6:26) and Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy regarding the “Prince of Peace.” (Is.9:6) Paul refers to this same peace in his letter to the Philippians (4:7) with a peace that is beyond human’s ability to comprehend. In light of the stress, violence, and uncertainty which was about to come the disciples’ way, Jesus gives these words of assurance, and indeed, words of encouragement to anyone. This gift of “peace of mind and heart” has far greater ramifications than the immediate situation of the disciples, but one that extends to today’s troubled world. In moving to the middle part of this passage, there are a couple of observations I’d like to make. The first has to do with the disciples ability to grasp God’s bigger plan of redemption. Jesus’ whole purpose in coming to earth was to die for the sins of the world. That had to happen to make redemption possible. As awful as the immediate was, it was necessary for the greater plan of God to become a reality. The same can be said of us as of the disciples. It is often hard for us to get off our immediate concerns to look at or accept that God’s greater glory may lie ahead. The second observation has to do with the phrase “I am going to the Father who is greater than I am.” It is a phrase, taken out of context that has resulted in various heretical doctrines including Arians, Gnostics, and more recently, the Jehovah Witnesses. These doctrines have supposed that Jesus is less than the Father, minimizing and limiting his position in the Godhead. John makes abundantly clear multiple times Jesus was associated fully with God from before the beginning, “In the beginning the Word already existed.” (John 1:1). He was not a created god as the Witnesses would espouse. (They have their own “Greek” translators.) Moreover, Jesus was involved in creation itself. He has never not existed. There is something that is sometimes called the economy of God in which each member of the Trinity has a different function in the unity of the Godhead. Jesus was subservient to the Father in accomplishing his role while on earth. He did his Father’s will. There is no doubt about Jesus’ deity nor his understanding that he was God in the flesh. “Who else but God can forgive sins” was a charge from the Pharisees. The deity of Christ was the reason for killing Jesus. Finally, Jesus’ closing words in this passage are meant to reassure his disciples and us that God has things under control and that when the things God has said come to pass, we’ll not panic, but believe.
Music: “Credo” from Gospel Mass of Robert Ray St. Olaf Choir
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: by the might of Thy Spirit lift us, we pray Thee, to Thy presence, where we may be peaceful and still and know that Thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ―from BCP