Shalom – The Gift of Peace

During the Last Supper Jesus said to the apostles, ‘Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give to you. A peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. So, do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’ You will agree with me, these are indeed beautiful words.
I wonder if you remember The Hebrew word for peace is SHALOM used in many places throughout the bible. So rich in its content that the English word for ‘peace’ conveys only a fraction of what it means. In general it conveys a sense of universal completeness, a condition in which nothing is lacking. The state of perfect well-being which the word signifies belongs only to God. When one possesses peace, one is in perfect communion with God.
The false prophets prophesied peace when there was no peace. Jesus, on the other hand, is sometimes referred to as a ‘disturber of the peace’. But the peace he disturbed was a false peace. An essential component of peace is righteousness. So, where there is no righteousness, there is no genuine peace. So, there is no peace for the wicked.
Peace is not just the absence of war or dissension, nor is it simple harmony. Peace is a state of inner calm, and designates right relations with God and with others. Peace in this complete sense, a peace which surpasses all human thought, cannot be created by human effort alone. It is a gift of God.
God desires the gift of those who serve him. God speaks of peace to his people. In biblical times SHALOM was an ordinary greeting. It was an expression of good wishes. Peace is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another. But we cannot give it if we haven’t got it. And we cannot give to one who doesn’t want it or who is unable to receive it. We can create the conditions where peace is able to take root, but we cannot impose peace.
Jesus was able to offer peace to his apostles because he had it himself: ‘My own peace I give to you.’ Peace is communion with God. Since Jesus is in perfect communion with God, he can give us the gift of peace. What other peace can we give but our own? The Christian has a vocation to peace. But often alas! Instead of giving peace to others, we inflict on them our own unrest and unhappiness.
When Jesus appeared to the apostles after the resurrection he didn’t scold them for failing him. Instead, he broke through the closed doors of their fears and doubts and spoke words they desperately needed to hear. He said ‘Peace be with you.’ By using these reassuring words he turned their despair to hope, and their sadness into joy.
As Jesus’ disciples are we not fortunate to taste the peace of Jesus? A peace which surpasses all understanding, A peace the world cannot give, A peace no one can take away from us, A peace which can exist in the middle of our troubled worlds and in the midst of our unresolved problems. Peace is God’s gift to us but it can also be our gift to one another.
Remember this hymn? His Peace He Gives to us
‘His peace he gives to us, His peace he leaves with us, not for us alone
but that we might give it again to all men. ‘
Peace and Love to all
Dean Peter