“Peace I Leave With You”
Introduction: The great Swiss artist, August Benziger, was chosen to paint the White House portrait of President William McKinley. Benziger had remarkable access to the President so he could study him at all times and from every angle. The painting, when unveiled, was a remarkable likeness of the President. McKinley exuded warmth and dignity and quiet strength, and it was a great hit. Then Benziger was commissioned to paint a second portrait. But this time as the artist sat down to paint, he sensed something was different. Something was wrong. McKinley was just as kind and patient and dignified, but Benziger felt there was a kind of unease around him. Something had changed, and as Benziger painted the second portrait, it was almost like painting a different man. Even before the painting was finished, the artist discovered what had changed. The relationship between Spain and America was breaking down, and the problems were visible on the President’s face. Then the Spanish-American War broke out, and by the time the portrait was finished, it showed a man who still exuded warmth and dignity and quiet strength; but this time there was hardness to his countenance that hadn’t been there before. McKinley’s complexion and his portrait had changed because of what was going on in his life and in his nation.
Now, suppose that Jesus Christ were a painter and He could sit down with His canvas and oils and paint your portrait? And suppose He could capture your heart in the painting? Suppose He could paint you as you really feel today? Suppose He could paint your visage in a way that conveyed what is really going on in your heart? How would the painting look? In the passage we’re coming to today, Jesus gave us a portrait of a Christian as He wants us to be. Jesus gave us a picture of His kind of Christian, of His kind of follower.
1. A Portrait of Obedience (John 14:21-24)
Whoever has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me.
The Upper Room Discourse is different from the Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord’s first sermon and His last sermon are very different in their structure. When I studied the Sermon on the Mount for our series of sermons a year or two ago, I had little trouble finding a clear outline to the message. The Sermon on the Mount has an introduction, a thesis statement, a clear outline, and a conclusion. It’s a masterpiece of structure.
I can’t find any of that with our Lord’s last message. There is no discernable outline that I’ve been able to see. It’s a different kind of message. Much of it is actually conversation—especially in chapters 13 and 14—with the disciples breaking in to ask questions. Instead it reads to me like the epistle of 1 John, in which there are certain themes and ideas that keep recurring. Jesus was saying the same thing over and over, as if He were cycling through the main points He wanted to leave His disciples.
One of those points involved obedience. He kept telling them things like: “If you love Me, keep my commands.” And His primary command was for them to love each other (See John 13:14-17 and 34-35; and 14:23; and 15:10, 12, and 17).
Jesus Christ was spending His last moments with the disciples, and they were about to deny Him. But He said, “There’s always something left to love.” His great message was to love out of obedience. Because we love Jesus, we obey His commands; and His great command in the Upper Room is to love one another.
2. A Portrait of Wisdom (John 14:25-26)
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
I want to suggest there are two applications of this—to the disciples and to us. The first application was immediate and given to the disciples in the room at the time. I believe this is a promise to John and to the other apostles in that room that the Holy Spirit would help them reconstruct the conversations word for word so they could give us an accurate transcription of what was said. One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit was to help the Gospel writers assemble their material and reproduce what Jesus had taught.
But there’s a further application. This is a promise to you and me. As we study what John wrote, as we study the Gospels and the words of Jesus, the Holy Spirit illumines our minds and helps us recall what He said. Just when I need a verse, very often the Holy Spirit brings it to mind. That’s a portrait of wisdom—reading God’s Word each day, sitting at His feet, and letting the Holy Spirit illumine our hearts and minds as we pour over God’s Word.
3. A Portrait of Peace (John 14:27)
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.
In this passage we have a legacy akin to an inheritance that would come by the reading of someone’s last will and testament. On television, you see people gathered for the reading of someone’s last will and testament. Everyone waits in tense anticipation to see what was left to us—were we going to be millionaires or paupers. That’s been a frequent device in murder mysteries and television detective shows.
Well, in this verse Jesus was reading His last will and testament. He didn’t have property or houses to leave; He didn’t even have a pillow on which to lay His head. He didn’t have any money; Judas Iscariot had just absconded with our Lord’s last shekel. He couldn’t leave His clothing, that would be divided by His executioners. But He did have one thing to leave His disciples—a portfolio of peace.
How tragic when we fail to claim our inheritance! When we live in anxiety and uncertainty and frantic worry when Jesus Christ, in the last hours of His life, bestowed on us the legacy of His own peace. Nothing could be more beneficial to your heart and mind than to memorize John 14:27—memorize it word for word; learn it well and ponder it often—so the Holy Spirit can bring it to your mind and apply it to your heart during the rough patches of life. “Like a river glorious is His perfect peace—over all victorious in its bright increase!”
4. A Portrait of Expectancy (John 14:28-29)
You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
Notice those words, given to us verbatim in verse 28: I am coming back for you. As I’m writing these words, we’re waiting for the President of the United States to show up across the street to speak at the local high school. Our pastoral staff have been invited, and I’m preparing to walk across the street to hear the president’s speech. We have film crews in our parking lot, and secret service agents everywhere, and protestors showing up. There’s a tremendous sense of excitement and expectancy as we await the arrival of the President this afternoon.
But someone far greater than any President of the United States is coming soon. He is on His way! He said, “I am coming back for you!” And we should cultivate in our hearts the sense of excitement and expectancy, shared by all who have loved His coming.
Conclusion (John 14:30-31) – Now, I want to conclude by showing you the last verses of chapter 14: I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. Who is the prince of the world? It’s Satan—the devil—who has a human agent. In chapter 13, we read about Judas Iscariot and how Satan entered him. Judas suddenly left the room and went out into the night. He was going to the enemies of our Lord. He had gone to tell them, “Hurry! You can catch Jesus now. I know where He is. No one is stirring in the streets because all over the city people have gathered for the Passover Meals, and I know where Jesus is holding His Passover meal. I know His secret location. I’ve just left there. Hurry! You can capture Him tonight! Jesus, of course, knew this. He said, in effect, “We’ve got to leave. The enemy is getting read to burst into this room, but this is not where I’m going to surrender to them. I’m going to be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane after a time of prayer. I still have a few things to tell you, but I can tell them to you while we walk. Let’s leave this room and make our way through the darkened deserted streets toward the Kidron Valley and toward the Mount of Olives and toward the Garden of Gethsemane. I’ll talk while we walk. The devil doesn’t have any control over Me but I’m going to lay down My life for the world in accordance with the Father’s will. But hurry, let’s get out of here!
I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over Me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what My Father has commanded Me. Come now; let us leave.
And—here is my speculation—shortly after the room was vacated, Judas showed up with the soldiers. Imagine his perplexity when no one was there. “But there were here just a few minutes ago! Where could they have gone? There’s a good chance they’ve gone to the Garden where Jesus sometimes spends the night.” And so Judas and the soldiers follow the trail of Jesus, leading to Gethsemane and the cross; with Jesus having a considerable head start, which allows Him to continue His teachings on foot as they thread through the darkened streets of Jerusalem while He gives us chapters 16 and 17. But here at the end of chapter 14, He has left us with a locket, with a portrait, a picture of who He wants us to be—and it’s a portrait of obedience and love, wisdom and illumination, peace and expectancy, as He says:
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
 See August Benziger: International Portrait Painter by Marieli Benziger (Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1993), 165-166 and 174.