“Because I live, you also will live . . . 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.” John 14:19 and 27
As a New Year dawns, there are many people who are looking into the face of 2022 with trepidation. Covid 19 has brought with it uncertainty and fear for all the peoples of the world. For nearly two years now, almost every News Bulletin has included the latest Covid headlines. We have become accustomed to hearing the daily statistics of the numbers of new cases, numbers of deaths and of how many people have been vaccinated one, two and three times.
On this, the first day of 2022, many people will find it hard to exchange their usual “Happy New Year” greeting, without contemplating the present-day reality of a new and more transmissible variant of the virus – a virus which has already taken the lives of so many and caused such grief and heartache. For those whose viewpoint is restricted to the limited span of their human life, this fear of the unknown is indeed a reality, even reflected in cartoons in our newspapers about the unknowns that 2022 might have in store.
Throughout history, however, there have been events and circumstances that have generated a fearful response – everything from war to famine, and poverty to disease. Jesus was constantly aware of the contrast between living life in the darkness caused by the shadow of all the world’s complexities, dangers and fears, and living life having been born again into God’s eternal world, where our future lies beyond the limitations of time and our earthly lifespan. Jesus understood how fearful earthly life can be and constantly assured His disciples and followers that He was the answer to their every need.
John’s Gospel, especially, highlights the message of hope that Jesus brought, a message on which Phillips Brooks focussed his attention in his Christmas Carol, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ when he wrote: “The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in Thee tonight.”
John’s Gospel begins by telling us that “In Him was life – and that His life was the light of men”. It then goes on to say that as many as received Him, those who believed in His name, had the right to become children of God and be born again into God’s eternal family. John 3:16 sums up the whole Gospel in those extraordinary words, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Every child is entitled to an inheritance from their human father. And in just the same Way God the Father has given us, His children, an inheritance beyond the value of any and all earthly wealth – eternal life. Paul graphically expressed this truth when he said that for him death no longer has any sting! Everlasting life was his, and is our, inheritance – the inheritance of every believer. In Christ we are at peace with God – sin is forgiven, our lives are redeemed and we have an eternal future.
And so, it is with confidence that we can declare in the midst of a Covid-infected world that the peace Jesus offers is beyond price – it’s a peace that nothing and no-one else can offer, a peace that truly is beyond all, human understanding.
These words of Jesus echo down the ages into our hearts and lives now, on this very first day of 2022. So, let not your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. Jesus has overcome the world. In Him we have confidence and can trust that whatever 2022 has in store our peace and our security are in Him.
I have no hesitation in wishing you a very blessed New Year. And I pray that 2022 will be a year when you grow closer to the Lord, learn more of the life-changing truths of the Gospel and trust more deeply in Him – the only One who has overcome all things.