NOTE Because of illness, the podcasts for Easter 5: Monday and Easter 5: Tuesday are reissues from previous years. Fresh services and reflections to bring the current series up to date will be published as soon as possible.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.’
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Today we are encouraged to give joyous and sincere thanks because Jesus does not give to us as the world gives. We are also encouraged to pause and consider why we value some people and possessions so highly.
From an early age we are taught to assess and prioritise. We develop an urgent and pressing need for money and material possessions. We rank our friends by assigning the title ‘best friend’ to some but not others. We even view parents and siblings in some sort of order of preference.
The way in which we consider (and ‘rank’) other people and the things we own, or aspire to own, largely depends on the fickle whim of the moment, or on the future advantage we think we may gain. Life in our modern world drives us down a path of materialism that fosters both avarice and separation from God, a path which leaves our hearts feeling both troubled and fearful.
Jesus says: I do not give to you as the world gives. We should find great comfort and consolation in these words. Jesus does not ‘rank’ us in any specific order. Instead Jesus simply loves us, as we considered yesterday, with an open and unconditional love. Jesus might not facilitate our wildly extravagant dreams but he does give us something that cannot be given by anyone else … Jesus gives us himself, totally and utterly. It is when we come to accept the generosity of that gift that we will come to know the true and profound peace that Jesus left with us following the triumph of his resurrection.
Let us pray that we might set aside our worldly greed for influence and possessions. Let us pray that we might learn to trust the gifts and the promises of Jesus who gave everything for our peace and joy in the presence of our loving God.
Let us give thanks that we are able to choose a better path through this life. Then, let us take our first steps along that path in order that we might arrive at the destination Jesus has prepared for us.