In that upper room in Jerusalem where the Last Supper was held, Jesus gave his disciples considerable instructions. Among many things he taught them, he said: “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.” (John 14:27.)
Again he said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.)
Peace is a much-used word nowadays. We hear it on every side, in every newspaper, in every magazine. Men are truly running to and fro all over the earth looking for peace. We think of it as a modern form of salutation, but it is as old as mankind.
The people of biblical lands have always greeted each other with “Peace be unto you” or “Peace be with you.” Yet that little section of the earth has always been torn by wars and by captivity and bondage for the people, under a succession of rulers. At the time of Christ, they were under the rule of the Roman Empire.
Naturally, the Jews expected a “Redeemer,” a “Savior,” and thought he was to release them from bondage. Isaiah wrote:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6.)
Peace was not brought to this land called the Holy Land. Even today the hulks of old tanks and other war machines lie rusting on the sides of the roads. Ever-present soldiers keep vigilant watch along the borders. Nor has peace come to the rest of the world. Yet, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught peace. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9.)
Speaking to his disciples, Jesus said: “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.” (John 14:27.)
What kind of peace did Christ mean? I think his own acts explain what he meant.
After the Last Supper, when Christ had finished his instructions to the apostles, John wrote:
“When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
“And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
“Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
“They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
“As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
“Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
“Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way.” (John 18:1–8.)
Can you match that display of calmness? of peace? Here they are coming to take a man they want to kill, and he as much as says, “Here I am, take me, but let my friends go.”
Then when he stood before Pilate, under the pressure of rigid questioning, Pilate could not raise his ire. In perfect peace, he answered his questions. Pilate found no wrong in him.
After he was crucified and then resurrected, his first message to his disciples was, “Peace be unto you.” (John 20:21.)
How is it that we have not discovered the secret of peace when we have been looking for it all through the ages? I’ll tell you. We are looking for someone to create it for us—to bring it to us. Edna St. Vincent Millay said: “There is no peace on earth today, save the peace in the heart at home with God. … No man can be at peace with his neighbor who is not at peace with himself. …” (“Conversations at Midnight,” Collected Poems, Harper & Row, Copyright 1937 and 1964.)
Have you experienced that peace within you because you helped your neighbor rake his lawn or mow his lawn? Have you felt that peace within because you helped your neighbor pick his fruit or harvest his crops? Have you witnessed that peace within because you shoveled the snow off your neighbor’s walks? Have you felt that peace which came because you helped someone solve a problem and get a new lease on life? Have you “cheered up the sad, and made someone feel glad”?
Did you ever have a guilty conscience? Do you know the turmoil and tumult it can bring to your very soul? It can cause mental and even physical illness. Do you know the blessed relief of rectifying whatever caused this feeling? It may have been an unkind word, a thoughtless act, or it may have gone deeper than that. Until you have adjusted whatever causes a guilty conscience, you cannot hope for peace of mind.
Do you, at this time, have unkind feelings or less than love in your heart for a friend, a neighbor, or any of God’s children? Try doing something extra nice for that person, and keep it up until all the bitterness has gone from your heart.
Have you taught a Sunday School class and felt when you finished that you had really taught someone some principle of the gospel that had really helped him or given him a brighter look on life? Remember the feeling of peace and joy that followed? Have you ever taught someone the gospel and received that feeling of joy because he had accepted what you had been teaching? The thrill of missionary work!
Have you sensed the thrill, the peace within your soul, that comes from a knowledge of the gospel and from accepting and living in accordance with the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Have you felt the peace from doing temple work, vicarious work for the dead?
A key to peace, then, is service. Christ said: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matt. 23:11.)
Have you ever been aware that all the use of priesthood is service to someone else? Haven’t you always had a good feeling of peace within when you have been fulfilling your priesthood duty?
Peace, then, comes from service.
Is this not the ultimate of service? To become as God is, then, we must eliminate enmity, greed, and selfishness, and all our efforts must be in service to others. The Lord said: “… he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” (D&C 59:23.)
Joseph Smith was an example of utmost peace in the face of tribulation. Though he had been arrested and acquitted thirty-seven times, he knew this time he would not return. On the way from Nauvoo to Carthage, Joseph Smith said:
“I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense toward God and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 630.)
Then at Carthage, Joseph wrote to his wife, Emma, the following: “I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children … and all who inquire after me. … May God bless you all.” (DHC, vol. 6, p. 605.)
Isaiah says: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa. 32:17)—the assurance of knowing you are living in accordance with God’s will.
Our guide on a recent tour in the Holy Land, who is a Jordanian Arab and a Greek Orthodox Catholic by the name of Sari Rabadi, taught us a little Arabian song: “Havano, shalo, malechem,” which translated means: “We bring you peace.”
Yes, Sari, we say to you and to all the world, we bring you peace. We bring you the peace of the gospel, that peace which Christ meant when he said, “… my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. …” (John 14:27.)
If each person would have peace within his soul, then there would be peace in the family. If there is peace in each family, then there is peace in the nation. If there is peace in the nations, there is peace in the world.
Let us not just sing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” but let us mean it. Make it my goal—your goal.
When the Savior comes again—and he will come—he will bring peace only as we will accept and follow his teachings of service to others and eliminate enmity and unrighteousness.
That angel which John saw “fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth” (Rev. 14:6) has already come. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been established on the earth, never again to be taken from the earth.
His kingdom is already here on earth and is growing rapidly to prepare for his coming. Yes, he shall surely come and bring peace to the earth, but only as we are willing to follow his teachings. This is his work, and his kingdom, which is the only way to world peace and eternal peace. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.