Before Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) crucifixion, He shared a final meal with His closest disciples. It was a solemn meal as you can imagine, and Yeshua was intent upon preparing those who would carry His message to others. One of the statements He made, according to scripture was
“What I am leaving with you is shalom(peace) — I am giving you my shalom(peace). I don’t give the way the world gives.” John 14:27 (The Complete Jewish Bible) Was Yeshua leaving His disciples lives without conflict, granting them euphoria so that they would take a message of rainbows and unicorns to a lost and hurting world? Not likely.
I love to study the Hebrew meanings behind words in the Bible; often they are very unlike our meanings. If we do not study and learn in context, in other words, taking into consideration the culture of the time, and the more accurate definitions of the words, we will miss the truths of scripture. As I have said many times before, we have “Westernized” the Bible, meaning we have used our definitions and interpretations for a Jewish text.
Many churches today interpret peace to be an absence of war, and include in that peace, prosperity, health, and well-being. That interpretation comes from the classic Greek translation, and it isn’t wrong, per se, it’s just inaccurate for this scripture. From my study I learned that when Yeshua used the term “peace” or “shalom”, He was using it in terms of relationships; relationships we have with others and God. If we consider the whole of Yeshua’s time on planet earth, He was most interested in relationships, particularly as they pertained to God.
Did Yeshua have global concerns? Certainly, however, if we think in terms of relationships, the answer for global concerns begins with the relationships we have with others and with God. These relationships will determine the whole of our lives. We can think of it as throwing a rock into a pool of water; when the rock hits the water and breaks the surface tension, waves are broadcast in ever increasing rings outward from the center. And so it is with us; the relationships we have with others and God broadcast outward affecting us in our little sphere of existence and globally. So, given that definition of peace, let’s take another look at that passage.
What was Yeshua preparing His disciples for? After His death and resurrection, His disciples would take the message of forgiveness, healing and love to the world in His stead. Yeshua’s message and ministry, while He wore the clothes of humanity, was about relationships; relationship with God and our relationships with others. In effect, Yeshua was, and is, the conduit, or door, to restored relationship with God. Our relationship with others, in turn, is a reflection of our relationship with Him. The whole of Yeshua’s life on earth, the point of His ministry, was restoration of man’s relationship with God; relationship with God is complete, we have access at all times to the Creator. The restoration that Yeshua taught, bought, and paid for with His blood brings with it peace – shalom. Please don’t miss the gold in those last two sentences. Quit striving to gain God’s acceptance, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness. There is nothing left to do in terms of restored relationship with God; it is done and is available to all who would believe.
The resultant gift of understanding this concept, standing in awe of the completed work of Yeshua, is peace. Peace not as the world gives, not the absence of war, of strife, of conflict, not the stuff of fairy-tale endings and happily-ever-afters, but peace that permeates and inhabits the spirit; peace to know that we have been restored to relationship with the Almighty, the Creator, with God. Peace in our spirits will broadcast outward to others, and bring peace to the relationships in our lives and beyond.
For years, the church teachings I sat under did not bring the peace which passes all understanding. So often it felt like if I climbed one more rung of the ladder I could be that much closer to God, to a restored relationship that was dependent upon me and my faith, prayers, and actions. Today, I can breathe a sigh of relief; the work has already been done, Yeshua’s peace is mine, and it can be yours as well. As we go into Easter week and the remembrance of the work done on the cross, accept that relationship with God is open to all. There is no need to attain perfection, or get your life together before you journey with God. The door is open. Shalom…..