John 16:33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
This chapter opens with Jesus telling his followers that there will be those who will kill them and believe that this is worship to God. The chapter concludes with this promise of persecution or trouble. He knew what his disciples would be facing in the days ahead. All of Jesus’ disciples would face persecution and John would live long enough to be an eye witness to much of what would occur.
Being a follower of Jesus Christ was not to be something easy but it was to be a lifestyle of following in the footsteps of our crucified Lord. Jesus’ death on the cross brought about the victory over sin and death and therefore provides us with peace. The world truly has been conquered in Jesus Christ and for this we are eternally grateful. Today we pray for peace — his peace — in the midst of a world filled with trouble and persecution.
As I mull over this scripture today I am overwhelmed by all that is happening in our world. The horrible persecution of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq is filling the headlines. At the same time Israel and Gaza are a hotbed of violence, not to mention the embroiled border of Russia and Ukraine. The sad part is that in the middle of it all we find innocent people who are facing trouble of monumental proportions. It is overwhelming to even think about what some have had to face.
Jesus’ answer is no trite response to calamity and so we must explore what it is that he is trying to say to us. Notice that he doesn’t say that the he will stop persecution to bring about peace. No, instead he says that “in me you may have peace.” It is only in him that we can find real peace. This is found in a profoundly deep relationship with our Lord and Savior. It also means that as Christ’s followers we are to pray for peace through him. We pray for those who are facing terrible death and persecution in these violent parts of the world. And we pray for peace, a peace that comes from knowing and fellowshipping with Jesus Christ. He is the “Prince of Peace” and has come to bring us his peace.
I started to write this early this morning and somehow struggled with what to say. The suffering that people are facing in the world today is reprehensible. Knowing that we can have peace in Christ is incredible but at the same time we can’t use that as an excuse to not become engaged in what is happening. While we must pray that there are those who will sense the peace of Christ we must also ask whether we need to speak up or whether we must take any responsibility in what is happening in our world. We must pray that we respond in obedience as the Lord may lead us to speak up against injustice and take action. Today we pray that somehow in the midst of all the chaos that we can still listen and obey that still sweet voice that draws us to him — the one who has “conquered the world.”
May we pray for the peace of Christ and may we be nudged onward by the still sweet voice that challenges us to not always be silent.
Lord, we pray for your peace this day. Amen.