Summary: Jesus came as the Peaceful Warrior and the Gentle Conqueror
Prince of Peace
SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 42:1-4
Just before Christmas Paul Harvey told the story of a father whose son had gone off to fight for the Union Army during the American Civil War. After months of camp fever, his son finally saw battle, and was seriously wounded. News of his son’s wound came to the father on Christmas Eve, and --- being a poet --- he sat down and expressed his anguish in a song. The father’s name was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote these words on that bleak Christmas morning:
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 Goodwill to Men."
At the birth of Christ, the angels proclaimed Peace on earth, goodwill to men. But, when it comes to Peace, the world sends mixed messages. We only need to turn on the T.V. or look at a Newspaper to see vividly that there is very little “Peace on Earth.”
· In fact, statisticians say that since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than 8% of the time!
· A study in 1988 showed that out of 3530 years of recorded history, only 286 years saw peace.
· Moreover, in excess of 8000 peace treaties were made--and broken.
Moody Bible Institute, Today In The Word, June 1988, p.33.
In this war-torn world, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed: 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. Isaiah 9:6
Two thousand years ago, Jesus came to earth as the Prince of Peace. But this same Prince of Peace said these words in Matthew 10:34: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
So how do we reconcile this? Maybe it would help to begin with a definition of Peace. We usually associate Peace with the absence of conflict. Back in the 1970’s Peaceniks protested the war in Viet Nam. Today Pacifists demonstrate to end the conflict in Iraq. It is almost as if we define Peace by what it is not --- war. If there is no war there is peace.
However, the word translated Peace in the Old Testament is so much more than that. Shalom is indeed used to describe the cessation of hostilities, but the word also pictures health and wholeness. It denotes harmony and completeness. To have Shalom is much more than a quiet life without conflict. Biblical Peace requires Justice. There is an unbreakable connection in scripture between PEACE and JUSTICE. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus personifies this connection. What we see in Jesus is the perfect example of a PEACEFUL WARRIOR.
1. Peaceful Warrior
Look at how Isaiah describes Jesus in chapter 42: 1 "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 2 He will not quarrel or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. Isaiah 42:1-2
Do you see the tension here? It says “he will proclaim justice” in one breath, and in the very next breath, “he will not quarrel or cry out.” Amazingly, Jesus was able to boldly proclaim the message, but at the same time he was not itching for a fight. Trouble came --- because many people opposed his message --- but Jesus was not looking for trouble.
Matthew quoted this prophecy from Isaiah right after Jesus performed a miracle that stirred up plenty of trouble. In Matthew chapter 12, we read that Jesus was in the synagogue on the Sabbath when a man with a withered hand approached him. The Pharisees tried to draw Jesus into a fight by asking (I can just hear their sniveling tone): “Is it right to heal someone on the Sabbath?”
Now Jesus could easily have blasted them. (I think I would have.) He could have said, “You people want me to leave this man in his misery, don’t you? --- because that’s just the kind of dirty, rotten scoundrels you are.”
But instead, Jesus reasoned with them, “Look, I’m only doing what is right. I’m sure any one of you would pull a sheep out of the well on the Sabbath wouldn’t you? And isn’t a person more important than a sheep?”
Unfortunately, they still got mad when he healed the man. But it wasn’t because Jesus had provoked them intentionally. On the other hand, Jesus would never compromise just to keep the peace. Matthew Henry is quoted as saying: Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give up anything for it … but truth. As the Peaceful Warrior, Jesus boldly proclaimed the truth, but he always spoke the truth with love.