Finding Peace in Jesus’ Words

Martin Luther preached that peace can be found only in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bestows on Christians the powerful gift of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to understand it and to communicate with God. In his sermon (recorded in Luther's Works Volume 24), Luther echoes Jesus' statement that although there is strife and turmoil in the world, Jesus has already overcome it.

Comfort in Christ

Therefore, Christ is indeed an amiable and comforting Lord. He exhorts His own in such a friendly and sincere manner to be sure to cling firmly to Him and to take comfort in Him over against the world and everything that would assail and frighten them. He also shows us the proper way to obtain consolation and peace. “For,” He says, “I have said this that you might have peace, not in the world but in Me.” This is a strange statement: that there should be peace where actually anxiety and dissension prevail. Now it follows clearly from this text that there will be no other peace than that which is meant by Christ’s words “I have said this.” “It is the purpose of My words,” says Christ, “to give you peace and good cheer.” He does not say: “I will see to it that the emperor, the pope, and the world give you peace.” “No,” He says, “My Word will give it to you. You will have peace in My Word or none at all.” …

This is the first lesson Christ teaches here: that a Christian must look to the words of Christ for peace and rest in his heart. His heart must cleave to them and be completely enveloped in them. Then a Christian can let his foes divest him of this garment, that is, of flesh, bones, skin, and hair. For if he retains this Word and takes it with him, then this garment will be restored to him on the Last Day, and it will be more beautiful and glorious than it is now. That is the peace contained in this Word. This is really a wonderful text. It tells the disciples that they will never find any peace except in the words Christ is speaking to them. But it is certainly true. There is a twofold conversation: the one which we carry on with God and the one which God carries on with us. To speak with Him means to pray, as has been said earlier. It is a glorious privilege that the Sublime Majesty in heaven condescends to let us poor worms open our mouths in conversation with Him and gladly listens to us.

God's Word Places Peace in Your Heart

But it is a far more precious privilege that He speaks with us and that we listen to Him. Both are good and great benefits conferred by God. Scripture speaks of these two as the “Spirit of compassion and supplication” (Zech. 12:10). For God does both: He lets us converse with Him through prayer, and He also speaks with us through the Spirit of grace, in order that we may hear Him. God’s speech is far more comforting than ours, for it is the kind that brings peace and a calm and joyful heart. No other speech or power on earth, not even the world with all its skill, learning, and intelligence, can do this, not even Moses himself, who, although he speaks in behalf of God, does not put peace into the heart. The Man who is God Himself must do this, as is stated in Ps.85:8: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people.”

Therefore, Christ states here: “Let what I have said be entrusted to you; for I have said it that you might have peace in Me.” What kind of peace is this, and where is it to be found? In the world or among mankind? Christ says: “No, not there; disabuse yourselves of that thought, for nothing will come of it. Even though no tyrant or anyone else persecutes you, the devil will be at your heels and will plague and torment your hearts. And this will be as hard to bear, yes, much harder to bear, than if the swords and weapons of the whole world were directed against you, as those who have experienced this surely know. Therefore, Christ wants to say that one of two things must happen: “You must have anxiety and tribulation either outwardly, in your bodies, or inwardly, in your hearts.”

A Different Kind of Peace

“Consequently, when I say that you shall have peace, you must understand this to mean that you will have to experience anxiety in the world. You must realize that in German peace means fear in the world. This is the connotation of My words: peace means discord; good fortune means misfortune; joy means anxiety; life means death in the world. Conversely, what the world calls discord, fear, and death, I call peace, comfort, and life. It is life, friendship, and comfort, but not in the world; you will find this in Me. Through My Word your heart will be made invulnerable to the world, the devil, and hell. Even if your enemies numbered many thousands more, and if their anger were far more intense than it is, their wrath and their raging will not be able to deprive you of Me; for I am so superior to them that I can easily hold My ground against them.”

Post from Luther's Works: Volume 24, Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 14–16 (pp. 418–20), copyright © 1961 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

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