Peace (Shalom) I leave with you; my peace (shalom) I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Shalom. Maybe you’ve heard this word before, it’s likely you have. It’s a Hebrew word and the common way of greeting or saying farewell in Israel, and among people of Jewish faith in general. When translated into English, the word used for shalom is peace. This is another example of the limits of the English language. When people are speaking shalom to one another in coming together or parting, it’s not the image of two college buddies flashing each other the peace sign with the phrase “Peace out dude”. Ok, maybe that was only in the ‘80s or ‘90s but I think you get my point. Although the idea of peace, as we understand it, is part of shalom, shalom actually refers to so very much more.
This week we are looking into the idea of shalom and what it means to bring the blessings of shalom into our communities. In order to do so, we’re going to take a closer look at the depth of meaning behind the word shalom as well as the gift from God that shalom truly is. A gift which begins with the Shar Shalom (the Prince of Peace), our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the night of the Last Supper, just before Jesus was arrested leading to his trial and crucifixion, Jesus spent some time giving final teaching, encouragement, and assurances to His closest disciples. Among the many words of encouragement were the words we read above, recorded in John 14:27. Jesus was not promising His followers they would be free from conflict, on the contrary, two chapters later He states “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace (shalom). In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Shalom begins with God Himself and we obtain it as a gift from Him. As we seek to know Jesus, He gives us His shalom (peace) and we are transformed by the very nature of His presence. We become part of who He is, which means we are filled with shalom – as a gift of knowing Him.
I know, you still are confused by what shalom really is if peace doesn’t quite cover its meaning. Don’t worry, we’re going to get to that in the next few days. In the meantime, I encourage you to reflect on the fact that Jesus “does not give to you as the world gives” His gifts are faithful and eternal, not fickle and limited. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus is the Shar Shalom – the Prince of Peace, who desires to fill you to overflowing with shalom (peace).