Jesus Is Our Peace

 
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What does peace add up to? Is it just a word? Is it even true that there is, in fact, such a thing as peace? When Jesus talks about peace in the gospels he means, "to join, to tie together into a whole." That's the kind of peace Jesus points to. Not just words, or an idea, or making our hearts' cravings a reality. Peace actually means wholeness. Peace is unity. Togetherness.

The kind of peace Jesus points to can't be gotten with words. Talking about peace won't get us peace, not a one-time-for-all-time kind of peace that allows us to rest from working for peace. For example, children are fascinated by words. They will argue endlessly about the meaning of words, but they don't get any closer to enjoying what the words point to because they're caught up in applying the right word to the right thing. They don't understand that we can't carve up the world, and control it, and settle differences with words. But, just like we, children believe words are magic. There’s good words and naughty words. Words that excite us and words that cut us to the core. Apply the right words to a problem and, by and by, through talking it into submission, we believe we can actually enjoy peace, or love, or faithfulness, or togetherness, or hope.

That's not true, of course. We can't talk our problems into submission. We can't bring peace and togetherness by simply defining terms and accepting the rules of the word games we play with each other. Experience proves this often enough. Reality just won't accept our definitions and play by our rules.

Instead, "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for all people."

We can talk a thing like peace to death, and it won't change a thing. Our words can't change reality. Our words can't change a human heart. Our words can't push back and fight off the power of selfishness and death. Our words can only describe what already exists. We can define and describe and even lay out the rules by which selfishness and death function, but we have no power to stop them with our words. God's Word, Savior Jesus, however, can and does.

God's Word stops our selfishness and death. He speaks and what He says just happens. He says "Let there be light," and the universe explodes with light. He says, "You are my people and I will be your God," and all these thousands of years later He is still our God. He says "I will suffer and die for you," and He’s born in the flesh so that He can suffer and die for us. He says, "This is my body and this is my blood," and in the mystery of His coming under the bread and wine, He gives Himself to us, body and blood, forgiveness and life. He does all this for us because He says He will. For God, to speak is to do. So, when Jesus says, "My peace I leave with you," He leaves His peace with us. It's just that simple.

But can we taste, touch, smell, see, and hear Jesus' peace? Does God need us to define His peace and write up the rules for how His peace will come to others? No, of course not. That's foolish, not that that has ever stopped us. But, it's just an enormous waste of time when we could be enjoying Jesus' peace—his calling, his gathering, and his keeping us together in His Church.

The peace Jesus promises is ours in the way of gift—in the way of His words, water, bread and wine. His peace is ours in the way of selfless love and kindness. Do we want peace? Then we are called to focus our eyes on the font, and the altar, and the pulpit. Fix our ears on the forgiveness Jesus declares to us. Cling to His selfless love.

Don't worry over our words, and definitions, and rules. That's so unexciting. Instead, enjoy Word of God Jesus and His words. His words actually do what He says. That's because Jesus doesn't need definitions or rules to get done what He wants to give us. He just says it and it's done for us. "Baptism now saves you." "You are forgiven." "This is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sin." "Love each other as I have first loved you."

What does peace add up to? Is it just a word? Is it even true that there is, in fact, such a thing as peace? The kind of peace Jesus points to is more than just a word. It is in fact real. The peace of God isn't just a whole lot of words, or an idea, or making our cravings a reality. God's peace actually makes us whole in our togetherness. He gathers us with His Word to stand around the font, to kneel at the altar, and to sit at the foot of the pulpit. And why does He gather us together in this way? Because the only true peace that we can enjoy in this life or the life to come is the peace of Jesus which is spoken into reality for us in the Gospel.

We can organize ourselves, march, protest, legislate peace, vote about it, debate it, argue definitions, codify the rules, and we still won't know a moment's peace. But, the peace Jesus gives—a peace that the world cannot understand—is already ours in the way of God’s Gospel Word and gifts given to us. God's Word brings us together. God speaks and we're baptized. God speaks and we're bodied and bloodied. God speaks and we're Gospeled. We're Christ Jesused, which is the same as saying, "Because God speaks to us Jesus-much and keeps us together with Jesus in His faith, love, and kindness, we enjoy His peace" even when we suffer and struggle, and steeples are falling, and the world keeps on defining and codifying peace.

We enjoy peace because Jesus is our peace today and always.

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Director for Higher Things, a contributing writer at 1517 Legacy Project, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. Pastor Riley co-hosts the podcast: 'The Higher Things Simul Cast'.