Summary: In this sermon you will consider the phrase, Jesus the Prince of Peace, taken from Isaiah 9:6.
In beginning I would like to share the story behind one of our favorite Christmas hymns, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” At the time of it’s writing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln. He believed Lincoln’s election signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation. On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window when her dress caught fire and she was engulfed in flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams. As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands. Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard was one of the results of the tragedy. The burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.” In 1862 the toll of war dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.” In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.
But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began:
I heard the bells on Christmas day. Their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.
As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But he kept writing – and what did he write?
And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth”, I said, for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.
It seems as if he could have been writing for our kind of day. Then, as all of us should do, he turned his thoughts to the One who gives true and perfect peace, and continued writing:
Then peeled the bells more loud and deep; “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail; the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.”
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Jeff Skinner)
I want to ask you a question, are you experiencing peace today? I once read about an interview that was conducted with movie actor, Harrison Ford, concerning the subject of possessions. Harrison Ford’s movies have brought in several billion dollars at the box office. In the interview he expressed his disappointment with money. Ford said, “You only want what you do not have.” The reporter pressed him further by asking, “What do you not have?” Ford paused and muttered, “peace.”
All people need peace. God would like to give you peace during this Christmas season. Jesus is the source of that peace? We have been looking at four descriptive titles given to Jesus, as recorded in Isaiah 9:6. The last title is “Prince of Peace.” This word peace in the Hebrew language is “shalom.” This was a word of greeting used by the Hebrew people. A greeting is a pleasant word. It is a word whereby you wish a person a good day. You wish them good things. God wishes to give you good things. God wishes you well. If Jesus is the prince of peace what will that do for you?