(This is the 4th and final installment of a series I preached several years ago at Lakeside Christian Ministries. Using Isaiah 9:6, we have previously considered how Jesus fulfilled this awesome prophesy of being the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Everlasting Father. This entry wraps things us as we see how Jesus was/is the Prince of Peace. My heart-felt thanks to all who have taken this journey with me!)
Isaiah 9:6 tells us: 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.
These awesome words, spoken some 600 hundred years before His birth, have come to life in Jesus Christ! We have considered over the previous three entries how the Lord not only fulfilled this prophesy through His perfect life on earth, but that he continues to do so on the throne of heaven and through the work of the Holy Spirit here on earth today.
Today let’s consider Jesus as the Prince of Peace.
What a glorious and fitting title for Jesus: Prince of Peace. This as yet unborn Prince Isaiah predicted was to be a ruler in every way. He would rule over military, religious and governmental spheres. Jesus is this ruler now, and will be seen completely as such when He returns to earth at His Second Coming to proclaim God’s eternal victory over sin, establishing a kingdom that will last throughout eternity.
With Christmas only one week away, what time could possibly be better than now to see how we can come to know this peace Jesus brought/brings. In fact, Jesus Himself is peace. It is not overstatement to say that this, along with salvation, are the greatest gifts the Lord came to give.
To get started, let us once again be clear about the true meaning of the word peace as it is used here in Isaiah 9 and in fact throughout much of both the Old and New Testaments.
The Strong’s Strongest Concordance defines this peace as: intact, whole; a peace that has a sense of security and safety.
I hope this gives you some clue as to the depth of the word peace as Isaiah used it. Today, we tend to think of peace as having no hostilities or at the end of a war. However, history has proved that a signed peace treaty does not necessarily mean there is true peace. One need only consider the Treaty of Versailles signed at the conclusion of WWI to understand this as WWII came only twenty years later, officially ending a most non-peaceful period in history.
Thankfully, Jesus establishes a lasting and complete peace. Consider the definition of the word peace again: intact, whole; a peace that brings a sense of security and safety. Only our Lord, the Son of God, has the ability, strength and love to make His peace a lasting one. His peace brings completeness to a person and a sense of wholeness. There is joy and contentment in the peace Jesus gives to those who place faith in Him alone for salvation.
Let’s take a moment to compare and contrast the peace the world offers to the peace that Jesus gives. The peace the world has to offer pales when compared to this heavenly peace. First, worldly peace is something that is to be achieved, not received. Worldly peace is based on resources and personal ability. This type of peace relies totally on externals; what can I get or have that will bring me peace in my troubles. It seems so difficult to get and then if finally grasped it becomes seemingly impossible to hold. The world’s concept of peace is that of being something one hopes for but rarely finds.
Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, brings a peace that is opposite of this. The peace of God is dependent upon a relationship, not resources; a relationship with the Almighty. This relationship is made possible by God’s desire to be at peace with us. Unlike the world’s concept of peace being something to be earned, the Lord brings His peace as a gift that we need only receive through faith. And perhaps most importantly, God’s peace can be realized in the midst of our trials and struggles. We don’t have to be burden free before we can know His peace, in fact the troubles we face ought to reveal the power of God to bestow His peace. In other words, we can experience God’s peace in the very height of our personal storm.
Jesus, because He is the Prince of Peace foretold by Isaiah, did a considerable amount of teaching on the subject of peace. Speaking to His disciples, He said, “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.” (John 16:33 NIV)
This in one of my all-time favorite scriptures, as it reveals so much about our Lord and the world in which we live. Jesus doesn’t mix any words here, ‘In this world, you will have trouble.’ That’s a plainly stated truth, and one that we must accept as we live this side of eternity. I’ve yet to encounter anyone, myself included, who has not had/does not have trouble in their life. Notice Jesus words: “in this world you will have trouble.” Jesus knew the stuff that would happen in this sin-infested world. Sickness, death and unexplainable tragedy befall each of us. The question is not ‘where was God when this happened,’ but should be, ‘how do I find Him in the middle of what’s happening’ This is where faith must come in. The rest of the Lord’s statement tells us to ‘take heart,’ because only He can overcome all the world throws at us.
How do we get this faith? By believing the truth that He has indeed overcome the world. We joyfully celebrate His birth in this season. To know His peace however, we must consider His birth in the greater context of why He came at all: His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. This is the ultimate victory that has been achieved by Jesus Christ. No longer is death the final verdict for people. Instead, we can know that the Lord has secured our forever home in heaven by dying for our sins and then being raised from the dead. The result of Jesus’ sacrifice is the payment of the debt we could never repay.
This same Isaiah who boldly spoke of the coming Messiah was also clear as to why He would come to earth: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and be his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5) By this awesome act, the peace of God can be known by all!
This is what we are ‘to take heart in.’ The peace and comfort of eternal security is meant to see us through our worst trials and pain. When we have peace in Christ, we can have peace through our turmoil. Will this peace lessen our pain or our hurts? Maybe not in the moment; but if you will allow more of God’s peace into your heart, the more He will minister to you in your particular trouble and thereby make more or His peace known to you.
Here are some more incredibly encouraging words about the peace of God spoken by the Prince of Peace Himself: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV)
Like any gift, it must be received and opened to be truly appreciated. During this Christmas season, part of the fun we have in exchanging gifts is simply in watching the other person open the gift we have given them. It may be an over-simplification, but for a gift to be truly enjoyed, it must be opened. Likewise, as we open our hearts to God, we can receive the blessing of the awesome gift of His peace.
Remember, Jesus does not give as the world gives. He doesn’t, because the gift of peace He brings is not a thing to be grasped, it is the Lord Himself! Pastor and author Ray Stedman explains this as he writes: when Christ Jesus makes peace — between individuals or between nations — that peace will be a satisfying, permanent, and genuine peace. It will be a real peace that will last and last. And it will be a totally satisfying experience. The problem with most of us is that we want to start by clearing up only the results of conflict. God never starts there; he starts with the person. He says peace is a Person, and in order for you to live at peace with someone else, you must be at peace with the Person of Christ. If you have his peace, then you can start solving the conflict around you. But you never can do it on any other basis. So the place to start, the origin of peace, is the settling of any problems between you and Jesus Christ. That is always the place to start.
I love the clarity this explanation brings to my mind. I so often want to clear up the turmoil and any damage caused by it so that life can go back to an easy and even keel. Doing this, even as it is well-intended, does not ultimately embrace or portray the peace of God. But, as Stedman has so wonderfully written, we must have the peace of Christ first if we are to be peace-makers in our troubled circumstances.
Peace is often spoken of, especially at Christmas. It can be yours in Christ. Warning: this peace is not the same as complacency or warm, fuzzy feelings. Real, true and lasting peace comes only through faith in Christ. The Prince of Peace, promised hundreds of years before His birth, has made the peace of God not only known, but available to all mankind. Please don’t leave this most precious gift unopened. Tear the paper and bow off it and relish not only in the gift itself, but cherish the One who gives it. Remember, real peace is not earned, it is received. The greatest giver of all time, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is offering it to you!