For the North End Community Ministry / food pantry visit or call (616) 454-1097.

We meet for worship at 214 Spencer Street NE. Directions.
Service begins Sundays at 10:00AM.


This Sunday is the second Sunday of Advent, that season in which we remember the many centuries God’s people waited for his coming and even now, after Christ’s coming, we long for his return—for his Advent. Last Sunday we focused on hope. Hope is the confident expectation that Christ will come, but not in a wishful thinking sort of way. Hope is rooted entirely in God’s proven character. Because God is reliable, we wait for his return in confident hope. This hope settles us and enables our patient faith in the midst of trials.

On the second Sunday of Advent we light the candle of peace. Peace as the Bible describes it is so much more than we usually mean when we use the word today. For many, peace is the absence of hostility. If two nations are not at war, they are at “peace”, but this is not what peace really is. Peace is the active presence of something, not merely the absence of something.

In John 13 and 14 Jesus tells his disciples he is returning to his Father. Naturally this leaves them distraught. Their understanding of his kingdom was fundamentally faulty and they could not reconcile his kingdom on earth with his physical absence from earth. None of this made sense to them. He assured them they would not be alone: he promised to send them his Spirit. He would be present with them through his Holy Spirit. Then he says this:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27 ESV

Here Jesus declares to his disciples that while he may leave—physically—he will leave peace with them. This is significant, for as DA Carson helpfully points out, “peace is one of the fundamental characteristics of the messianic kingdom anticipated in the Old Testament”. All the way back at Mount Sinai Israel’s first priest was instructed to bless the people with the promise of God’s peace. In Psalm 29 David longs for the Lord to bless his people with peace. The prophet Isaiah prophesied of the one who would be the Prince of Peace, whose kingdom would have no end. Later he says the Messiah would usher in a covenant of peace with God’s people.

When Jesus tells his disciples he leaves peace with them, this is what he means: he is the one ushering in the new covenant with its fundamental promise of peace. His kingdom is one of peace, not of sword. I love how Edward Klink describes it.

The “peace” about which Jesus speaks is the peace of God through Christ and in the Spirit. That is, this newly inaugurated state of existence for the disciple involves receiving the peace of Christ, which is an unbroken union with the Father, even in a world filled with continuous strife, persecution, humiliation, and even death. Certainly this fits the OT concept of peace—shalom, but what is being described here is its fulfillment.

Edward W. Klink III, ZECNT

Jesus is the one who brings in this new existence for God’s people. It is peace he leaves with his disciples. He doubles down to make sure they understand what he’s saying: “My peace I give to you”. So there would be no doubt as to the source of the peace, he says it is his peace, the long-promised peace of the Messiah, the Savior promised ages ago.

Further, he says he does not give peace the way the world gives it. As I mentioned earlier, the common notion of peace is merely the absence of hostility. Jesus does not promise the absence of hostility, but the presence of something. He tells them to not let their hearts be troubled and to not let them be afraid. It is significant that he does not promise a life absent of conflict! In that same conversation he tells them the world will hate them, for it first hated Jesus (John 15:18). They must not fear this hatred, however, for they will have the Spirit dwelling in them.

It should come as no surprise, then, that fruit of the Spirit includes peace—but what is peace, if it is not the absence of conflict? In the midst of hostility and strife, in the midst of suffering and pain, peace is the sense from God that all is well when one rests in his care. The peace of Christ is rooted first in who he is and second in what he has done. The cross secures this peace he promises his people. His peace is his perspective of the crashing waves of the storm that threaten to destroy, that is, as seen from his throne.

Imagine the disciples in the boat when Jesus was sleeping. Mark even adds the seemingly irrelevant detail that his head was on a pillow (Mark 4:38)! The waves were crashing over them and they feared they would all die. They weren’t far from shore for the Sea of Galilee is not large. One can easily see from one side to the other while standing on the shore. The waves in the middle, however, can be quite dangerous. The disciples’ lives were at risk, yet there was Jesus, sleeping in the boat in the midst of the storm, with his precious head on a pillow.

What they didn’t understand at the time and what the apostle John would understand decades later is while Jesus was also in the midst of this dangerous storm, his perspective was quite different. In the Jewish mind the sea was the place of chaos and danger. The people of Israel were not a sea-faring people. The boats they had on the lake that was called the Sea of Galilee were not ships in any sense. The sea was chaos and darkness and the place of evil and great danger.

Long after his fellow apostles had lost their lives to that sea, the system of chaos and destruction that is the world and its system of oppression, each having given their lives as martyrs for the risen Christ, John had a vision of God’s throne.

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

Revelation 4:1–6 ESV

Surely when John saw the flashes of lightning, the rumblings and peals of thunder and a massive sea before God’s throne he was reminded of that day when Jesus was sleeping in a boat, seemingly unaware of the danger of the raging sea. Significantly he is told he will be shown what must take place after this. It was at this point he found himself in heaven, being shown this sea, only now it was a sea of glass, like crystal. The reason Jesus could sleep in the boat in the middle of a storm, with waves crashing over the bow threatening to sink the boat and drown every single one of them, with his head on a pillow, is Jesus saw the storm from his throne.

From God’s perspective, the raging wind and the crashing waves and the peals of thunder and the lightning are as a sea of glass, so smooth you’d swear it were made of crystal. This is the peace Jesus promised to leave his disciples. It is his perspective on the world, one in which he knows what he is doing. Though from our perspective the waves are real and they are threatening and the wind and the thunder are deafening, the Lord Jesus can rest his head on a pillow, knowing his Father is in full control. This is why he could pray in the garden, “Not my will be done, but yours”. He knew the suffering that awaited him yet he was filled with peace for he was in his Father’s will. If his Father calls him to suffer, he will suffer, for his Father is always good even if the storm is not.

In this season of Advent as we wait for the coming of our Lord, we can wait in peace, for he has given us peace. He didn’t leave us the absence of conflict or trouble. In fact, he promised there would be trouble! He promised the presence of something, not the absence of something, and that something is Jesus. He is our Prince of peace. Whatever storms we face, whether financial or medical, whether relational or even spiritual, in the midst of whatever fears threaten to overwhelm us, he promises us peace—his peace. Whatever today or tomorrow brings he will be right there with us, and this time he won’t be sleeping—and even if he were, the sea would still be a sea of glass, like crystal.