Relational Peace vs. Situational Peace


“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 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.” (John‬ ‭14:25-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

What would you tell someone if you knew this was the last time you’d see them? While Jesus will see the disciples again after the resurrection, they have no understanding of that truth. In just a few hours, their world will be turned upside down. Their faith and understanding of the truth will be shaken to the very depths of their soul. Everything they thought they knew and trusted would be thrown into doubt. Ever been there? Then, stay with me…

I mentioned last week that we would end up back on the topic of the Holy Spirit, and that will be true for future weeks, too. In this passage, Jesus mentions that he gives them these instructions while he’s with them but there are other things he’s taught them that they’ve overlooked, misunderstood or forgotten and the Holy Spirit will remind them of all these things. It is important to recognize that Jesus links the things he’s told them with the things they’ll be taught by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t teach or reveal new, never revealed, undiscovered truth, He reminds us of what Jesus has already taught and told us.

I point this out because there are some who would have you believe that scripture has only given us a portion of what God intended as revelation and that the Holy Spirit has come to finish teaching us what Jesus left incomplete. 

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” (Colossians‬ ‭1:15, 19‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Let me state emphatically, Jesus IS the very image of the invisible God and he COMPLETED the two fold task of revelation and redemption. There was NOTHING left incomplete at Jesus resurrection or ascension. The Holy Spirit was NOT sent to finish something left incomplete or undone. He was sent to teach, guide, and remind the disciples (and us) of Jesus’ teachings and the truth. A teacher doesn’t create truth or knowledge, he/she simply uncovers what has been hidden or reveals what has been previously undiscovered. Truth is not created but is discovered or revealed.

I emphasize those things because it is important to recognize that the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit will NEVER lead us into anything that is in opposition or conflict with the Word of God, the revelation of Jesus Christ. How can I be certain or emphatic about that statement? Because Jesus said it: “he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” That qualifying phrase applies to both the things he’ll teach and bring to remembrance. 

The disciples do not currently know by experience the truth of what Jesus has taught and told them, but they will as the Holy Spirit guides them. What God has already given them is sufficient (no new revelation is needed – for them or us) they only need the Holy Spirit to guide them into a fuller knowledge and understanding of the revealed truth in Christ. Will the Holy Spirit teach us things we did not know or understand? Absolutely! But He will NOT teach us things that had not been previously revealed. His teachings and guidance will be consistent with and in agreement with the truth as revealed in the Word and in the life of Christ. 

Next, I find it interesting that the very thing Christ promises from the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit is the very thing we seem least likely to associate with the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence… peace. Deep, soul satisfying, overwhelming peace. Ask most modern Christians what indicates a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer and I seriously doubt that peace will be mentioned. Yet, the very word used to describe the Holy Spirit is “helper” or a legal advisor who has intimate knowledge and understanding of the circumstances and is speaking on our behalf. 

My father used to assure me that I had no reason to fear truth or justice, as long as I did the right thing. While some today might question my father’s words, they are still true where men pursue truth and justice. God pursues truth and justice, and the Holy Spirit is our advocate with the Father. He has intimate knowledge of our situation and of God’s will. I like a quote I found from A.W. Tozer: “Outside the will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the will of God, there’s nothing I fear.” The deep, abiding peace that Jesus promises is found in that knowledge. 

Jesus promises that the peace he gives is nothing like the peace the world offers. The peace the world offers is situational, but the peace Jesus offers is relational. We find peace in the world by controlling situations or circumstances. As long as these situations are under control, then we experience a sense of peace. But, when the situations spiral out of control then our peace vanishes with our sense of control. But, when peace is relational then our sense of peace comes from that relationship and not the situation surrounding us. Let me illustrate…

When I was about twelve, we had traveled to Boston to attend my grandfather’s funeral. On our way back home to Oklahoma, we stopped at Niagara Falls. As we walked along a path beside the Niagara River, my brother slipped and fell into the river. As he clung precariously to the steep river bank, half submerged in the raging water, my dad looked him in the eye and said, “trust me.” Dad then grabbed a tree branch and swung down and grabbed my brother’s hand pulling him up and out of danger. In that moment, I trusted dad to do what was needed. I knew nothing about the Niagara River, but I knew my dad. That’s relational peace. 

Jesus assured the disciples that they can trust him, regardless of the situation: “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.’” He will then demonstrate, through the resurrection, why that trust is justified and warranted. He gives us the same assurances, “Don’t worry. Trust me, I’m leaving but I will come back.” That’s relational peace, not situational. Is your sense of peace about life relational or situational? This will be crucial for the disciples to grasp for the situations they are about to face, and it is crucial for us to grasp. 

Finally, he gives us insight into how this relational peace really plays out in their lives and how it should play out in our lives. Notice he tells the disciples how the events of the evening are being “controlled.” He says, “the ruler of this world is coming, but he has no claim on me. I am simply being obedient to the Father’s will.” What is going to happen this night is not under Satan’s control, it is all a part of God’s plan. What the disciples are about to experience will “feel” out of control, chaotic, and not holy or purposeful. However, Jesus tells them beforehand that it is entirely under God’s control. Trust me. Relational Peace. 

We often face life challenges that “feel” out of control and chaotic. When a child gets really sick, or a spouse is diagnosed with cancer then life suddenly seems to be spiraling out of control. But, when peace is relational and not situational then we can rest in the assurances of our Savior, “Trust me. Don’t look at circumstances and question my love, trust me.” 

You see, when the ruler of this world loses his “claim” on us then he has lost all authority and power over us. Satan has NO claim on us! Jesus didn’t come to simply make us a nicer, more moral version of our old self. He came to make us a NEW CREATION, a new person. But, for that to happen we must DIE and be reborn, born again. The old person you were has to be nailed to the cross of Christ. It must die. It deserves to die.

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans‬ ‭6:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Let me close by repeating that quote from A.W. Tozer that I referenced earlier: “Outside the will of God, there’s nothing I want. Inside the will of God, there’s nothing I fear. That’s relational peace. Do you have relational peace or situational peace. Relational peace lasts, situational peace is fleeting. 

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