Prince of Peace
Good Morning Calvary and anyone else who is joining us. Thanks Candice and Enoch for the songs this morning.
The last three weeks we have been looking at the names given to Jesus in Isaiah 9: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and today we will look at Prince of Peace.
Wow! Why would I be stuck with this topic of peace. Just when you need to learn something important God asks you to teach on it. I have had lots of things trying to rob me of peace. Like painful things happening to me and my friends, having people upset at me, being involved in crisis management and having to live with no control over the outcomes. Not to mention the struggles that COVID has brought.
To be honest I do not see much peace these days, and to my surprise churches have also been caught up losing their peace as they fight one another over wearing masks or not. I have read so much on peace this week that I almost lost my peace trying to decide what to say and what not to. When I see how chilled my three year old granddaughter is these days I wish I could join her world. Why is she chilled? It is directly related to who is taking care of her. Peace, we will see, is the result of a relationship we can have with this Prince of Peace.
Peace is not first and foremost an emotion that you can control.
I am reminded of Horatio Spafford, a prominent lawyer, who in 1873 had a son die; after losing various properties in the Great Chicago fire sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England and got a telegraph after the ship sunk, with the words, “saved alone”. He lost his four daughters. He jumped on another ship to meet up with his wife and as he sailed over the area where his daughters had drowned he penned these words:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
The reality is that no matter how much faith we have, it does not spare us from adversity. Who can pen these words, but at the same time others of us can lose our peace because we can’t celebrate Christmas like we wish.
Let’s read our passage once again:
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
If we take the verses together we quickly realize that this name, Prince of Peace, has to do with government and rulership of a different sort. Peace and Kingship or His rule go hand in hand. Could it be that the more I trust and submit to His rule the more peace I could have?
Isaiah was speaking at a time when Israel was not at peace due to an oppressive enemy over them, and when this prophecy is unfolding in Bethlehem the Jews find themselves lacking peace. Sure, the mighty armies of Rome had imposed Peace on Israel—the kind of peace that comes when one army has better weapons and crushes the army of another country— but there was a homicidal maniac named Herod sitting on the throne who was appointed by the Romans. He would kill all the babies in Israel.
So what is this peace about? The reality is that Jesus was promising to get rid of their worst oppressor. Are we aware of our worst oppressor, the one that seeks to destroy peace at all cost?
In order for us to understand this passage we have to go all the way back to Genesis and remember the words spoken to Adam and Eve, after they lost their peace in the garden of Eden. God promised us a Redeemer and a way back into peace with Him as soon as Adam and Eve sinned. Satan thought that he had destroyed mankind’s ability to relate with God. Sin is what robbed us of the peace relationship with God.
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike [crush] your head,
and you will strike his heel.
Eve’s offspring would be Jesus through Mary. He is talking about Satan who would try to destroy Jesus but will only be able to bruise His heel but Jesus would crush Satan through being victorious over death.
There are two princes in this world: the prince of this world and the Prince of Peace. One brings peace, the other unrest, strife, war, false peace, and destruction. One day Jesus will completely destroy the other.
Quickly we can see two things about this Prince of Peace.
- The process of His peace
The mission of the Christ child was to bring peace. “For a child is born to us, / a son is given to us.” It says Jesus was a gift given to us, a sacrificial peace offering for the restoration of “shalom” between God and us. But in the same act of dying and then rising from the dead, Jesus destroys the power of death and evil over us. Satan’s right and grip over us was broken so that instead of having to be under the reign of an abusive destructive prince, I can be under the reign of this Prince of Peace.John 12:31 says, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”Our greatest enemy of peace is not our circumstances or other people, it is the same enemy that tried to rob Adam and Eve’s peace back in the garden of Eden. But Peace can be very costly. Forgiveness is very costly, but it brings peace between two people. We all know what it is like to be at odds with someone and it irks us until we actually get it resolved. Jesus the Christ child was qualified to offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice and peace offering so that forgiveness and right relationship with God the Father could be restored (Hebrews 9:14).Debts can rob us of peace, that is why I am so glad that the guilt and shame and self-hatred I used to live with has been taken care of and I’m debt free for the rest of my life. Satan can’t use the guilty card on me anymore. Most of my anxiety in life is related to being accepted, loved and forgiven. Shame and guilt and fear of not measuring up were cripplers of peace. Jesus actually comes to help me stop fighting God Himself. I was an enemy of God in my selfish rebellious state in which of course I was not at peace. He convinced me with this gift of the Christ child that He was completely for me and not against me. No animosity between me and God.Who gives generously to His enemies? Only Jesus, and that is why it says that it is His incredible generosity that leads me to repent and recognize that He is a ruler that I can trust. Christians are those who have changed allegiance to a different Prince. Christians are those who rest under the rule of this Prince of Peace. We then can be at peace with ourselves and with one another. This Prince of Peace makes His subjects Peacemakers.May I suggest that if you are trying to resolve the lack of peace in your life let Jesus offer you what it takes to re-establish a relationship with God.
- The Capacity to assure peace.What most re-assures me about this Prince of Peace is that he can back up his offer. His government and peace are intertwined, Peace and His rule are synonymous. Look at the last verse we read, “He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David / for all eternity. / The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies / will make this happen!” Much of the lack of peace in us comes from demanding justice for ourselves and trying to fight for ourselves and our rights. Jesus comes along and says don’t fight for your own rights, but let me be the judge of the world.It is all very nice that someone promises peace like so many false promises today. Will a vaccine bring peace? Presidents and rulers are all promising to lower crime or racial prejudice, but do they have the power to actually bring it about? The ruler we are talking about has the capacity to fulfill on His promises.Look at what we have seen the last three weeks:
Wonderful Counsellor: Wisdom for all our uncertainties.
Mighty God: we have a King that has conquered the ruler of this world. Why can a weak sheep rest in peace while wolves are prowling about? There are no threats to His omnipotence. We pray in the Lord’s prayer, “deliver us from evil” for thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever amen.
Everlasting Father: no more abductions possible for those who are in Christ Jesus. A Heart to rule us, not a tyrant, and He isn’t surprised by our weakness at all. The Eternal Father can keep you safe just like He did while Jesus was a vulnerable baby, as anyone of us. Born in the midst of hatred and oppressive governments, who tried to kill him while even a baby. The omnipresence of Father is one more reason He can deliver on His promise of peace.“If God be for us who can be against us?”
“Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
“In this world you will have troubles, but I have overcome the world.”
Let me explain something that happened to me last week, which makes it clear that peace can be found in the suffering and pain.
Sometimes the greatest peace comes in the mourning of our sin, or mourning the losses we have lived, or the pain of someone else’s loss. This week as I was overwhelmed by so many broken things in my world, I heard the pain of someone else’s loss. I literally broke down crying, and as I did, this picture is what came to mind, this painting by Carl Bloch of the last supper.
John resting on Jesus’ chest. Look at it carefully and notice the lack of peace in the rest of the disciples. This is the night He would be betrayed. What is the difference here? Is this why we need the faith of a child? The chill of my 3 year old granddaughter? Is this why we need to recognize our own frailty? Is this why I do not need to fear his reign but rest in a Prince that can back up His promises?
It makes a difference that this Prince of Peace can make sense of our circumstances and, if not, still promises to be present. It make a difference that this Prince of Peace is Sovereign over what is going on. It make a difference that this Prince actually fights on our behalf.
Which one of these attributes do you and I need this Christmas in order to regain relational or even emotional peace?
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus in John 14 says , “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful[…]”