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The Peace of Christmas Is Not The World’s Peace

Another scripture not usually associated with Advent or Christmas is found in John 14:27 (NIV). It is part of Jesus’s closing farewell to his disciples. “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 troubles and do not be afraid.”

One reason this scripture from John’s gospel should be part of the remembrance of Jesus’s birth is that it ties directly to Isaiah’s well-known prophecy about Jesus’s birth long before he was born. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus’s beginning was about peace. Fast forward to John’s gospel as Jesus prepares to leave this world, and we find that Jesus’s ending was about peace. Jesus was not just talking about peace but leaving–giving–his peace to his disciples and to us. It’s as though he leaves his peace with us as part of his last will and testament.

But note what Jesus said about this bequest. It wasn’t a gift of peace “as the world gives.” Do we just read over that phrase without thinking about the difference between Christ’s peace and the world’s? When we talk about peace during the Christmas season (and we may not read John 14:27 during Christmas, but we do talk about peace a lot), we talk about the world’s peace, don’t we? A peace accord. We talk about the end of war, strife, conflict, trouble, fear. The peace Jesus brought and left to us is a peace within. The last thing he said in John 14:27 was: “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The peace from Jesus provides the faith and strength to stand up to trouble, to overcome anxiety, to trust in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to guide us though whatever besets us in this life. That’s the peace to be celebrated during this season.

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