Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you”(John 20:21, ESV).
Each Gospel writer gives the Great Commission.
Matthew: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20).
Mark: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).
Luke, writer of the book of Acts, quotes Jesus as giving the actual plan for carrying it out: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
But John’s version is the first of them all. Jesus reiterated the mission several times following His resurrection, but the one recorded by John was His initial mention of it. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
And notice: He didn’t say it without saying something else in the same breath: “Peace be with you.”
Peace is a great thing. Peace is the calm assurance that what God is doing is best. Peace comes from knowing that He is in control, causing all things to “work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Peace is God’s way of signaling to your soul that you can rest in Him, that you can trust Him, that you’ll be able to see Him at work. We’d all like having a little bit more of His peace in our lives.
But God does not give you His peace so that you’ll have a better week. He doesn’t give you His peace so that you’ll have a good night’s sleep. God gives you His peace so you can make an impact. His peace is primarily for the purpose of enabling you to participate in His mission.
Few concepts are more important to learn than the fact that God is not here for us; we are here for God. We are here for His purposes, not ours. He gives us the help we need for getting over our humanness so we can be used by Him in this short thing called life.
So when you hear Jesus saying to His first disciples, “Peace be with you,” realize He still is just as eager to lift your cares off you today. And here’s why: because like those first followers, He’s given you a job to do. And the cares you lug around with you keep you from doing your job. But by giving them over to Him, you can experience His peace. Then you can get busy doing the kingdom work He’s left you on this planet to do.
God’s peace is not given as an upgrade to our happiness portfolio. He’s not here to diagram a more pleasurable life for us. He gives us His peace as a freedom and a release into purposeful serving, worshiping, and evangelizing. He liberates us from the things that burden our hearts so we can be freed up for kingdom mission—which, He knows, leads us to what we wanted all along. To the only real joy and happiness we’re capable of experiencing anyway—not as a goal, but simply as a byproduct.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.