Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
As I recall, we did not memorize this whole verse at one time in Daily Vacation Bible School, but we memorized at least part of it. It is possible that we learned the first part of the verse one year and the second part the next.
I was born during the Second World War. I watched the planes fly over our little Canyon on their way back from the various combat zones throughout the world. I served in the military just as the Vietnam War began to heat up, and have watched in horror as the media has presented to us the fine details of man’s inhumanity to man over the last fifty years or so. The fact of the matter is that the world has no peace to offer; this planet is a lost and fallen place, filled with ignorance, degradation, and fear. If the film industry is any indication, the appetite of the public yearns after more and more disturbing portrayals of evil and of conduct unbecoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Even in the days of the mortal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, there was very little peace to be had among the nations. The most powerful nation in the known world at the time loved to boast of the “Pax Romana”, which in reality was the “Phobia Romana”. Roman citizens enjoyed relatively little opposition because the non-citizens were afraid to lift a finger against anyone associated with the greatest military power the world had ever known.
Jesus had said at the beginning of chapter fourteen, “Let not your heart be troubled”, and then went on to give a multitude of reasons why they should not be distressed in any fashion.
The Savior’s departure from the Apostles was imminent; they were deeply disturbed by the prospect of being alone. Jesus comforted them thusly:
“ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know (John 14:1-4).
The Savior’s counsel to them is “Believe in me as you believe in God the Father, for what I do now is at His behest”. Jesus must pass through the next few days undaunted, and they must do the same. No one of them can afford to become distracted from the great labor which is about to take place. Jesus must go away, but he promises that in short order he will return having done all that would be necessary to bring them into the eternal worlds without blemish or spot. The work which would prepare them to enter back into the Celestial Kingdom would ultimately terminate in the sacrifice of his mortality. There was no other way by which they could be with their Master forever. He must leave them for a time.
After discussing the relationship between the Father and the Son, and the path of righteousness that has been pointed out to them (verses 5-14), Jesus instructs his brethren regarding the comfort which comes from knowing and doing the will of God. A mighty effectual door is opened through the power and influence of the Holy Ghost.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:15-16)
Love inspires proximity. Simon Peter was willing to suffer death in any number of ways in order to remain at the side of the Savior. Philip’s question above about whither they as Apostles should go derives from a similar concern. Jesus clearly tells his disciples that where he is going they cannot yet come. They suffer in mind and heart because of their love and devotion towards him; the thought that they might not ever again bask in his wisdom and affection made them almost wild with fear. Jesus’ counsel now is that if they wish to be with him, if their love is such that they cannot bear to be separated from him in the eternities, then they should at all times and in all places do those things which constitute conformity to the mind and will of God the Father.
Jesus then extends another promise, one which anticipates resurrection and exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.
If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
Can anyone think of a more peaceful setting than to be in the company of God the eternal Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? As wonderful as this would be, however, Jesus testifies that there is something of even more worth to the sons and daughters of God as they pass through their mortal probation.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
Through the principles and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the commandments and covenants of the Almighty, the Savior has provided the means whereby we can enjoy perfect peace in the midst of a world filled with turmoil, trial, and tribulation.