Summary: Jesus, the Prince of Peace can bring peace to our troubled hearts.
World War One began just over 97 years ago. By the end of the war, 15 million would die, 20 million more wounded. It was the largest scale of casualties in human history. Just this year, the last combat veteran of what was called “The Great War” died. He was Claude Choules who served in the British Royal Navy (and later the Royal Australian Navy), and died 5 May 2011, at the age of 110 (wikipedia.com).
There is a touching story from the early days of the first world war. Less than 6 months into the war, soldiers from both sides were locked into trench warfare, holding their lines against one the opposing army. It was Christmas Eve, 1914. There are varied accounts of what happened, but for during the night of Christmas Eve and on the following Christmas day, soldiers from both sides declared an unofficial “truce.”
Some say it started when the German troops lit candles on Christmas trees that were sentn to them from home. Eventually, Carols were being sung in German, and echoed in English and French. English bagpipers accompanied German soldiers singing “Silent Night.”
Throughout the night, soldiers exchanged greetings, and by daylight, many ventured across the barbed wire into “no mans land” to shake hands with their enemies. The men exchanged buttons from their uniforms, and Christmas treats from home. One English private wrote home to tell his parents how much the Germans loved mom’s “Christmas Pudding.” He wrote “if we would have had an ample supply of Christmas pudding, every German on the lines would have surrendered” (Private Frederick W. Heath, http://open.salon.com/blog/lost_in_berlin/2011/12/23/the_christmas_truce_of_1914_an_eyewitness_writes_home
Gary Kohls documents the events in his story.
“An over-confidant Kaiser Wilhelm had even ordered 100,000 Christmas trees, with candles for decoration, to be delivered to the German trenches for Christmas, ...to boost morale. And then the spontaneous events happened at various points on the 700-mile-long trench lines that stretched all across France. The singing of Christmas carols started an extraordinary chain of events that culminated in acts of mass treason that would never be duplicated in the history of warfare. One of the best-loved versions of the story was that the Germans started singing “Stille Nacht” and the British responded by singing the English language version, “Silent Night.” Then, the French and Scots joined in and all sides sang together in their own tongues, the Scots accompanying the Germans with their bagpipes.” Gary Kohls, “The Christmas Truce of 1014" http://consortiumnews.com/2011/12/16/the-christmas-truce-of-1914
Stanley Weintraub, writes more about this unique night in his book, “Silent Night.”
For a moment, Jesus brought PEACE.
We have been studying Isaiah 9:6. Today we come to the fourth two-part description of the Messiah. Isaiah 9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
It is now 2,000 years after Jesus came. In spite of man’s effort, peace cannot be found. In fact, there seems to be more and more violence in our world.
Why Does Peace Escape Us?
For the people of Judah in 734 BC, there was no peace. The context of Isaiah 9 takes place during the reign of King Ahaz. Judah was at war with five nations (see 2 Chronicles 28). The mighty Assyrian army was threatening to conquer Judah along with the rest of the world. Judah was in trouble and needed help. God’s prophet Isaiah was given a message of hope, a Child would come that would deliver God’s people and bring them peace.
The Prince of Peace is “śar šālôm.” Shalom is the greeting used in Jewish and Arabic. It means more than just the absence of war. Brown Drivers and Briggs define shalom as “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace” (BDB).
This is a very broad term that is meant to express the best possible desires to the person who receives the greeting. It means so much more than our typical “hello,” or, “hi, how are ya?” The closest equivalent would be to wish someone “the very best possible life filled with goodness, completeness and joy.”
In one Old Testament example, Joseph expresses his concern for his father Jacob and his long forgotten family in Canaan by asking about his shalom. Genesis 43:27 "And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” Even though the Hebrew word here is shalom, most English translations insert the word “welfare” to describe Joseph’s concern. Shalom means much more than just pleasantness.
This kind of wholeness, this completeness escapes us. We long for shalom, but never seem to find it. The reason for this is because our HEARTS are ruined because of sin.
In Isaiah we read about our condition. Isaiah 59:8 "The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.”