In John 14:27, Jesus says to his followers,
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The World DOES give peace. So does Jesus. But the peace that Jesus gives is not like the peace that the world gives. What is the nature of the peace the world gives?
To the people listening to Jesus saying this, the first “peace” they would have thought of would have been the Pax Romana – the Roman peace. The empire would protect you from barbarians and also keep order with a beefy police force. The catch is, you just had to do exactly what the emperor said and keep your head down in submission. It was an enforced peace. Fascism and Marxism offer a similarly enforced peace. The room is quiet because everyone had better keep their mouths shut or else!
In a more fundamental way though, Girard explains that the world does indeed have a peace to give its people. It is the Satanic peace derived from scapegoating. How does the world keep calm and carry on? By taking out it’s frustrations on an innocent sacrificial victim. One person gets to take all the blame and die so that neighbors no longer fight with each other, at least for a season. The peace the world gives is an endless dose of blame-shifting. Lost your job? Blame the President (Bush or Obama, it doesn’t really matter). Trashy culture corrupting your daughter? Blame Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Such easy targets! Unrest and war? Blame Muslims. Live in Egypt and the latest coup didn’t go your way? Blame Christians – just ’cause.
Christ does two things that are totally different. He takes all this on himself. He lets himself become the scapegoat and take all the sin away. But then, BOOM, he comes back for good to dwell among us. He not only stands in heaven as our advocate, contra the accuser, but also dwells with us as a new model for peace. In this model, we don’t blame others, but confess our own sins, BUT then they get forgiven – first by our gracious heavenly father who can’t stop loving us, and secondly, to an imperfect degree, by our family, friends, and neighbors as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts as well. When you admit your own failure, the devil smells blood and will stir up a crowd to stone you, perhaps from within your own family. But in the Kingdom inaugurated by Jesus Christ, when you admit your own failure, you lay down and die – the perfect prerequisite to be raised to life.