Once again, we will continue in our study of three-word phrases from the lips of our Savior, which are recorded in the Gospel of John. Our focus for this study reveals Three Cheering Words for the Mind – “Peace unto you” (John 20:19). In our English Bible, the statement is recorded as “Peace be unto you.” The little word “be” is italicized, indicating that although it was not in the original, it was added to the translation for the sake of clarity and readability. So for our study, we will consider this statement as a three-word phrase.
Peace is an invaluable commodity. All across the scope of humanity, people are seeking peace. Nations spend huge financial resources, investing in armies in pursuit of peace. Diplomats scurry from capital to capital hoping to maintain peace. One of the largest governmental organizations ever conceived, the United Nations, was established in pursuit of peace. But the truth remains, there will be no lasting peace among the nations until the Prince of Peace reigns in Jerusalem. As the prophet Micah prophesied, “And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).
But while there may be no true peace on an international level, there can be peace on an individual level. And this is the message of our text. In what was one of His early appearances after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, who were gathered together on that Sunday evening. The one attribute which marked their gathering was fear. When the Lord appeared in their midst, His message to them was, “Peace unto you.”
There are two aspects of this individual peace to be considered. First, there is peace with God. It is this aspect of which Paul spoke when he penned Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” While at one time, because of our sinful nature, we were at enmity with God; now, through the work of Christ, we have been reconciled to Him. Paul described it this way, “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). This is the eternal peace with God purchased by the atoning work of Christ at the cross. It is secured the moment an individual places their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior. This peace once-and-for-all settles the individual’s alienation from God.
Not only is there peace with God, which comes from the work of Jesus Christ; second, there is also the peace of God. Paul admonished the believers in Colosse, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Just as those disciples were beset by fear, so likewise, it is easy for believers today to allow fear to overtake our hearts. As we live in a world that is in a constant state of change, and as we consider an uncertain future before us, it is easy to be overwhelmed by fear. But we are reminded that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7). In Colossians 3:15, which was previously quoted, the word “rule” has to do with being an umpire or an arbitrator. That is, the peace of God is to “make the call” in our life. When trouble or uncertainty arises, then we defer to the umpire to make the proper call. Should we turn to fear or worry, or should we rest in patient confidence? The peace of God declares that God is in control and that we can trust Him. Thus, peace rules in our hearts.
The unbeliever knows nothing of such peace. The prophet Isaiah declared, “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:20-21). Those who have never made peace with God can never experience the peace of God in their hearts.
The question then arises, “How can I, as a believer, experience this peace of God ruling in my heart?” Isaiah has the answer for us. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). It is when our minds are centered on God that we can experience this peace. As we focus our minds on God, we are reminded that He has everything under control. As a result, we place our trust in Him who doeth all things well and rest in His goodness. As Edward Bickersteth wrote:
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
Jesus Himself said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Cheering words for the soul amid unsettling circumstances.
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Bro. Burcham served as the Chairman of the Bible Department at Golden State Baptist College before answering the call to pastor the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Sierra Vista, AZ. Pastor Burcham travels each week to teach the next generation at GSBC. Before coming to GSBC, he served as a missionary with his family in Japan for several years and then pastored in Missouri.