by Arthur Pink, 1940
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
Nowhere do the moral perfections of Christ appear more blessed, than in the peace which ever possessed His soul! There was nothing in His outward lot calculated to produce composure of mind and satisfaction of heart—but rather everything to the contrary. What did the world give to the Lord Jesus that would produce contentment? A manger for His cradle, the mountain-side for His sleeping-chamber, a Cross on which to die. What was there in His circumstances or earthly portion, which made for serenity of spirit?—what of external comforts, material riches, social prestige, human fame? Not only was there the absence of those things which are mostly prized by men—but there was the presence of their opposites—that which usually occasion repinings. Yet we never see Him ruffled or hear Him complaining. Perfect peace ever possessed His heart.
Never was the peace of anyone so severely tested and tried as was that of Christ's—yet nothing ever disturbed it to the slightest degree. No matter what the provocation, He ever remained calm and unflustered. "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). When His enemies spat in His face and plucked out His hair—there was no angry retort. Lack of appreciation from those whom He befriended, embittered not His spirit. The vilest of charges were hurled against Him, the foulest indignities were heaped upon Him—yet they only served to demonstrate the unruffled mildness of His temper. When affronted and ridiculed—He calmly bore their insults. When contradicted by presumptuous sinners—He endured, with the utmost tranquility, their unreasonable cavils. Most gloriously did He make it manifest that He was "the Prince of Peace."
As courage can only be displayed in the midst of danger; as perseverance requires prolonged difficulty and trial for its exemplification; so the virtue of peace needs provocation and opposition if its blessedness is to be made fully evident. And therefore did Divine providence so order the path of our Redeemer that it might the more conspicuously appear that there was no conceivable experience which could disturb His equanimity. In public and in private, from foe and friend, in life and in death—He was antagonized and assaulted—but His perfect placidity remained unruffled. When enduring the inconceivable agonies of Gethsemane, with strong crying and tears, and bloody sweat—His disciples slumbered and slept. Did their slighted Master express hot resentment at such unkind treatment? No, far from it, He threw the mantle of charity over their failure to watch with Him for one hour, saying, "The spirit indeed is willing—but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
Let us now endeavor to examine more closely, this lovely grace so eminently displayed by the Lord Jesus. What was the NATURE of His peace? What were the essential ELEMENTS which comprised it?
First, an unshakable confidence in the Divine providence.Nothing is more effectual in stabilizing the mind, and tranquilizing the heart—as a firm and steadfast assurance that God controls and directs all people and events. The Gospels record many examples of Christ's confidence therein. Take what is mentioned in Matthew 17:27: there were thousands of fish in that sea—why should this particular one, at this particular moment, be found with the necessary coin when Peter caught and opened its mouth? Take again the incident described in Matthew 21:2, 3: a dozen things might have caused the owner of that donkey to change his mind and go elsewhere—Christ's knowledge it would be there at that time, was not only proof of His omniscience—but also of a particular Providence that orders every detail. Once more, consider Mark 4:35-41: why did Christ sleep so peacefully during the storm? Because He knew they were certain to reach "the other side" (v. 35)—the government of God so ordered it.
Second, His unchanging trust in God:that constituted a marked feature of Christ's serenity. This is clear from, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You—because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3). Christ was the only one who ever enjoyed that perfect peace in its undisturbed fullness, because He was the only one whose mind was perpetually stayed on Jehovah. "I was cast upon You from the womb—You are My God from My mother's belly" (Psalm 22:10). The Lord Jesus lived in complete dependence upon God throughout the whole of His earthly sojourn. He lived by faith on the precious promises of His heavenly Father. In Hebrews 2:11 the Apostle Paul declares, "For both He who sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren," and in proof thereof (v. 13) he quotes Psalm 18:2 where the Messiah affirmed, "I will put My trust in Him." Christ's trust in God evidenced Him to be one with His brethren, for in becoming the Son of man He was brought into a condition of trouble and distress wherein it was both His duty and privilege to count upon God for deliverance.
As this human perfection of the Savior is so feebly apprehended today, we will dwell upon it a little further. So far from belittling the character of our Lord, the fact that He lived in complete dependence upon God, makes manifest His moral perfections. "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:6, 7). If those words do not set forth the life of faith, what language could do so?
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies: who is he who condemns?" (Romans 8:33, 34). How many of our readers are aware that that triumphant challenge of faith originally issued from the lips of the Man Christ Jesus? Such indeed was the case, as a reference to Isaiah 50:8, 9 clearly shows: at the very moment Pilate was condemning Him, Christ comforted Himself with the assurance that God would vindicate and declare Him righteous. Compare, too, His language in Psalm 16:8-10! That Christ made an open profession of His confidence in the Father is seen in the fact that His enemies reproached Him for "trusting in God" (Matthew 27:43).
Third, His unparalleled meekness."The meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm 37:11). Pride and self-will lie at the root of all unrest and discontent, as they are responsible for our quarreling with the dispensations of God. Dictators and disturbers of public peace are ever men of arrogance and self-assertiveness. But the Prince of Peace could say, "Learn of Me—for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:29). Meekness is the only virtue which will keep the affections and passions in their proper place and poise. Meekness is the only grace which makes one submissive to God—and pleased with all that pleases Him. "Behold Your King comes unto You, meek, and sitting upon an donkey" (Matthew 21:5).
Many are the contrasts between the world's peace and Christ's. The world wishes for peace, Christ alone can bestow it. The world's peace is carnal, shallow, and disappointing—but Christ's is spiritual, deep, and satisfying. The world's peace is a dearly-bought one—but Christ's is free. The world's peace is generally an unrighteous one—but Christ's is holy. The world can only give peace after trouble—but Christ can impart peace in the midst of trouble, lifting the heart above it. The world's peace is evanescent—but Christ's is lasting, for His gifts are without repentance: He is in one mind in continuing as well as bestowing—His motives are in and of Himself, and therefore always the same. He secures by His power—what He gives by His love. His peace cannot be taken away from us.
A tyrant once threatened a saint, "I will destroy your home"—"But you cannot destroy my peace." "I will confiscate your goods"—"But you cannot rob me of my peace." "I will banish you from your country"—"I will take my peace with me." This peace is the legacy of the Prince of Peace to His subjects—but the measure in which they enjoy it is determined by their obedience to God, their surrender to His sovereignty, and their fellowship with Him, and their heart's occupation with their future bliss.
Having sought to show what the peace of Christ consisted of—namely, an unshakeable confidence in the Divine providence, an unchanging trust in God, and an unparalleled meekness—let us now endeavor to point out the CAUSES of the same, or perhaps it would be better to say, the SPRINGS from which it proceeds, for the law of cause and effect obtains and operates just as truly in connection with His peace as it does with ours.
First His implicit obedience to God.Speaking by the Spirit of prophecy we find the Messiah declaring, "Lo, I come! In the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O My God: yes, Your Law is within My heart" (Psalm 40:7, 8). In Deuteronomy 10:2 Jehovah said unto Moses, "I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the ark." The stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed were deposited for safekeeping in the holy ark: and here (Psalm 40), we behold the blessed Antitype—the Law of God enshrined in the Messiah's affections—in consequence of which He perfectly and perpetually kept all the requirements of that Law in thought and word and deed. Therefore could the Lord Jesus affirm, "I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29), and nothing is more pleasing to God—than a hearty compliance with His will.
That peace is both the product and reward of obedience, is clear from many passages. "Great peace have those who love Your Law" (Psalm 119:165). All who live in this world are born unto trouble (Job 5:7), much more so must the godly expect to encounter difficulties and conflicts (Psalm 34:19). To the carnal eye no condition seems more undesirable and miserable, than the state of those who serve God—yet no matter what their outward lot, peace dwells within, for "the fruit of righteousness is peace" (Isaiah 32:17). But, the proportion in which that peace is enjoyed is determined by the measure of our love for and compliance with the Divine Law, for Wisdom's ways are "ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17). Consequently, since the Lord Jesus had a fervent and unabated love for that Law and never forsook Wisdom's paths—perfect peace ever possessed His soul.
Second His absolute surrender to the sovereignty of God.Of the wicked it is said, "The way of peace have they not known" (Romans 3:17). And why is this? Because they are in revolt against God. The only true resting place—is for our wills to be lost in God's will, to meekly submit to His sovereign dispensations, to thankfully receive from His hand whatever enters our lives. Uniquely was that the case with the Lord Jesus. When favored Capernaum despised His gracious overtures, instead of being riled thereby, He exclaimed, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Your sight" (Matthew 11:26). He had placed Himself unreservedly under the government of His Father, consequently He accepted all afflictions as coming from His hand: "The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). When His very soul was wrung with the most acute anguish, so far from a word of complaint escaping His lips, He declared, "Father, not My will—but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). When enduring the sufferings of the Cross—tormented by man and experiencing the wrath of God—He meekly "bowed His head," praying for His enemies, committing His spirit into the hands of the Father.
Third, His unclouded fellowship with the Father.Dwelling continually in the secret place of the Most High—He abode perpetually under the shadow of the Almighty. Jehovah was the portion of His inheritance, and therefore the lines fell unto Him "in pleasant places": setting the Lord always before Him. He knew He would not be moved (Psalm 16:5-8). Enjoying unbroken communion with God, His heart ever experienced perfect peace. "As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father (sustained by communing with Him)" (John 6:57). "I am not alone—but I and the Father that sent Me . . . He who sent Me is with Me" (John 8:16, 29). He ever had the blissful consciousness of the Father's presence: "the Father is with Me" (John 16:32).
Fourth, His unshaken confidence in the glory awaiting Him."Let us run with patience (fortitude) the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith—who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross" (Heb. 12:1, 2). The Man Christ Jesus lived in the assurance of an unseen future. He looked away from the things of time and sense, above the shows and delusions of this world, beyond its trials and sorrows—and set His affection on things in Heaven. The prospect of a future—yet certain joy, enabled Him to run His race with patience, and therefore in the immediate prospect of death He could say, "Therefore My heart is glad, and My glory rejoices: My flesh also shall rest in hope . . . You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures" (Psalm 16:9, 11).
"My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you." There is no other peace like it, though the unregenerate often mistake the sleep of death, a drugged conscience, worldly prosperity, the enjoyment of temporal comforts, for peace. The fact is that none but those who are born of God can understand or enter into this blessed truth. The peace which the world gives is a false one, it is continued by an uncertain tenure, and at the last takes away its gift, leaving its deluded votaries to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. But the Lord Jesus gives what is truly good, solid and lasting: "When He gives quietness—who then can make trouble?" (Job 34:29).