I’ve Got the Peace That Passeth Understanding


John 14:27 (NIV)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”


You saw this coming. It’s time for verse 2. Sing with me.

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.
Down in my heart to stay.

Welcome back to the Farmers’ Market where today we have a truck load of peace in the offing.

One year, me and Lee got a jump on the sweet corn with a super early planting. It managed to miss the late freeze and we had the first sweet corn in Desha County. As we pulled that early corn, which we knew would be a major status symbol at the farmers’ market, we noticed some of the ears were “skippy” and others “wormy.” (Technical terms for trashy corn.) We were satisfied of two things. 1. We didn’t need to inspect anymore, and 2. We needed to sell that corn in the next town over, the neighboring rival town of McGehee.

It would be our debut at the McGehee Farmers’ Market. The people greeted us with open arms and when the word got out that we had sweet corn, they swarmed us. We sold out by 8:30 a.m. and sped back to Dumas as though being chased out of town. We knew we had done wrong. We never did anything like that again. And we never went back to McGehee. We had broken the peace with McGehee. We learned our lesson.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love and today it is coming in the form of peace. What is peace? I thought I knew until you asked me. I have mostly thought of peace as the absence of something else, like conflict, strife, enmity, or war. I mostly think of peace as the absence of war. Truth is, the absence of war, from nearest of kin to nations, is mostly the presence of some form of truce. It is just old conflict buried like landmines across the field of our inmost being—quietly waiting to be triggered when someone steps on the tripwire. Some are thinking, “Sounds like the holidays at our house.”

So what is this peace we speak of? Now that you ask me, I’m not sure I know what real peace is. Is it a “state of being” as some make it out to be? Is it the flexed threat of war withheld, as signaled by all those protesting placards, “No justice! No peace!” Give us justice or we will give you war. That’s just another name for the revolution of vengeance; another tired version of the Pax Romana.

Peace is beyond understanding. It doesn’t fit into the calculus of war at all. Just like the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference; so the opposite of war is not peace but truce. So what is the opposite of peace? I would say it is the absence and distance born of detachment.1 This makes the meaning of peace to be something like the deeply presenced attachment we have to God, ourselves, and with each other in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

What if the truth is more like, “No Peace. No Justice.”? The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It means something like all of the broken and dislocated pieces of creation, our relationships, and our lives put back together again by God into a divine integration and wellness. Peace is one of the deepest essences of agape—the love of God. Notice what happens when Jesus, who was supposed to be dead and buried, walks into the most broken and despairing rooms in history to greet the eleven most wanted men in the country. Note how he greets them:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! . . . ” (John 20:19–21)

Is it any wonder he is referenced by the prophets as the Prince of Peace.

I have always been fascinated in an obtuse kind of way with the moment in church when the people are asked to “Pass the peace.” It’s the part of the service where the religious people say the word “peace” to each other and everybody else kind of makes small talk. I don’t think any of us has the slightest clue what that means or is about. It properly comes after the confession of sin and pardon. Our sin has debased and decimated our inmost being and consequently dulled and damaged the communal bonds of our wellness. The passing of the peace is the restoration of bonded attachment. It is an affection that transcends enmity. It happens through the mysterious giving and receiving of the embodied presence of Jesus Christ in and through one another. Far from a mindless ritual, this is Spirit-winged transportation of the people of God back to that post-resurrection, upper room visitation from the Son of God himself.

Wake up, sleeper! Into the most broken places in your innermost being, into the most broken relationships in your family and community, Jesus extends his nail scarred hands and speaks the word, “Peace be with you!” The only qualification for giving it to others is receiving it from Jesus first.


Father Farmer God, make of my life a farmers’ market. Make of the garden of my inmost being a place of the peace-filled fruit bearing of love. I want to be so captured by the peace of God that it becomes, in me, instinctive, impulsive, compulsive, and compelling—governed by your Spirit. Holy Spirit, train me in the utter simplicity of receiving your peace and then the simplicity of sharing it with others. You, Jesus, are my peace. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


What is your faith concerning peace? What is your experience? Where do you need peace in your inmost being? Where was it broken? Where do you need the peace of Jesus in your relationships? How will you open yourself to the Prince of Peace today?

THE HYMN (We sing on the Recording)

Today we will sing the Hymn, “Be Still, My Soul” on page #346 of our newly released Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. 

For the Awakening,

J.D. Walt

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  1. I often explore the meaning of words, particularly deep ancient words like we find in Scripture, by trying to discern their antonym or opposite. For instance, is the opposite of sunny, cloudy, or is it darkness? The opposite of peace is not absence or distance because many of us live far apart and are most often absent from one another’s presence, however, we have great presence and attachment with one another. This is what led me to understand the opposite of peace as detachment and the absence and distance born therefrom. This would make the meaning of peace to be the kind of attached presence (or the presencing of attachment) that transcends absence and distance. It’s why I say—in the fellowship of the kingdom, though we may be separated by miles, there is no distance.


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Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. Peace is complete in Christ. Period. Our peace is in Jesus’ promises, our faith in Him, not shot-gun faith but laser faith in Christ. Our peace is being obedient to Him in all circumstances. Our peace comes from trusting Christ when we can’t trust ourselves. Our peace is found in His love for us. Peace without Jesus is a roller-coaster, circumstantial contentment at best.
    Learning to become more like the One.

  2. The song that comes to mind for me is, “It is well with my soul “. I understand that the peace that passes all understanding is the calmness that sustains us in any and all external circumstances. I think of the early martyrs who stood firm in their faith despite their facing torturous deaths. A recent example of this was a video taken by a terrorist group showing the beheading of Coptic Christians on a beach in Algeria a few year’s back. Only Spirit filled believers in possession of the peace of Christ could face imminent death in such a way.

  3. Thank you, JD, for such a powerful and beautiful definition of “passing the peace!” I receive and embrace it and pass it back to you.

    In my experience, peace is overcoming the influence of the flesh, the world, and the demons and joyful surrender to the loving presence and leadership of God’s Spirit.

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