John 14:27 (ESV) … “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
The beautiful nature of the peace that Christ bequeaths becomes apparent only when we notice the troublesome circumstances out of which these words were spoken and the condition of those to whom Christ’s peace was given. It was not a situation marked by outward peace. Christ spoke on the verge of his violent execution. Nor did he speak to those who were already at peace or who were untouched by his imminent arrest and crucifixion. On the contrary, they were already deeply distressed and fearful. Troubles without! Troubles within! It was in this situation that the legacy was given.
The story has occasionally been told of a contest in which artists were to submit paintings and sculptures portraying their understanding of peace. Some showed beautiful sunsets, others pastoral scenery. But the prize went to an artist who had painted a bird in its nest, attached to a branch protruding from the edge of a thundering waterfall. This is the idea involved in Christ’s legacy. In times of outward peace anyone can be at peace, or at least many can. But it takes an exceptional peace, a supernatural peace, to prevail in the midst of great outward trouble and inner distress.
Christ’s peace is just that, exceptional and supernatural. As he explains in these verses, it is a peace that is to be present in his own in spite of the vacillating nature of the world around them, his own absence, and the vigorous activity of the devil and evil persons.