Summary: Another in the series on Christ from Isaiah 9:6.
Prince of Peace
Sunday, December 30, 2001
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. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote these words as he contemplated 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."
We have come to the final name of Christ here in Isaiah 9:6. It is of course Prince of Peace. But this one is difficult for us because we seem to have so many mixed messages when it comes to peace. On the one side Jesus is called the prince of Peace and the angels proclaim peace on earth goodwill to men. On the other, Jesus himself says:
34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to turn "’a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
As well, we have our own observations there is no peace on earth. Of all years - this one has shown us the absence of peace. Man’s inhumanity to man grinds endlessly onward.
So how do we reconcile this?
1. We need to begin with our definition of peace.
Here in North America the term peace has been clearly connected with the absence of conflict. Peaceniks protested the war in Viet Nam. Today pacifists want peace by ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Peace is connected with quiet with no conflict. 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 that is used in the Old testament for peace is so much more than that. Shalom is indeed used to describe the cessation of hostilities, but the word itself also pictures health and wholeness. It denotes harmony and completeness. To have shalom is to have not only a quiet life but also to be fulfilled in every way.
2. So how is Christ the Prince of peace?
Using this definition in Scripture - I think there are three distinct ways that Christ fulfills his title as Prince of Peace.
A. He is the one who makes peace between God and man
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,
15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,
16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
B. He makes peace in this life possible because of his saving work.
John 16:32 "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
C. He will complete peace perfectly when he comes again.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.