Summary: Jesus is our Prince of Peace during the storm not just in the absence of the storm.
Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.
The tension grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.
As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.
A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner. The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?
A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.
A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.
World peace is something that most people want. The desire for it is so well known that it is now a cliché, if you could have one thing what would it be? “World peace.” Yet as much as it is desired has also been a seemingly impossible quest. An article in the Personel Journal revealed not too long ago that a study of the last 3,500+ years of recorded history contained only 286 years of peace, that’s less than 8%. What’s worse is that during that period over 8,000 peace treaties have been signed and broken.
This is despite the fact that Jesus has already come as our Messiah for the first time. Despite the fact that the world has seen the first coming of the Prince of Peace, yet there is no peace as we think of it. Why is that? I think perhaps the problem is that we have the wrong definition of peace. You see I think that peace is not the absence of the storm but confidence within the storm. When we look at the life of Christ, it was not characterized by peace and tranquility, but by conflict and difficulty. Yet the overriding characteristic that we can see is confidence. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen and He was confident that He would win in the end, and we are here today as a living testimony that He did.
We have been going through the titles Christ was given in Isaiah 9:6. We have talked about Jesus as our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father and today we find that He is the Prince of Peace.
The true test of your character comes when you are under stress. During His life Jesus had to endure extreme stress many times. We most often think about this during Easter but for today I want to look at another day in the life of Christ where He was placed under constant pressure and endured multiple challenges. We’re going to be looking at Matthew Chapter 12, I want us to read verses 15-21 together, because that also includes Matthews translation of Isaiah, “Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”
This passage in Matthew is not a passage where everything is going smoothly for Jesus. This is a rough and demanding period of time. The demands are not just from His enemies but His followers as well. The passage begins with Jesus being tested by His adversaries. It starts on the Sabbath. Jesus and the disciples go walking through a grain field, the disciples are hungry so they pluck some grain to eat. Sounds reasonable, but technically it was against the Jewish law of the Sabbath. So the Pharisee’s confront Jesus with it. Their nit picking even for religious people and they know it. How can we tell? Without going into too great of detail because that is a whole other sermon Jesus hits them with a little scripture and the back off. Trust me if they really had a case they wouldn’t have backed off.