For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Can we be honest for a minute? Does the last part of this verse make you raise an eyebrow? Does the rest of the verse lose some credibility when you reach that part? (It’s okay to say yes!)
I never realized it until we began this series, but that has been my subconscious thought for years.
“Prince of peace? That’s a nice idea…but not exactly what I see happening…”
The thing is, a Prince of Peace is probably the one we most need Jesus to be to us. That sounds good to us in the chaos of 21st-century America. Peace. That’s something we can get behind, and that’s what God promised Jesus would bring…but that’s not our experience. Since God doesn’t break His promises, we must be missing something. Maybe we don’t see peace because we’re looking for the wrong thing.
Read Isaiah 9:6 again, and write your immediate thoughts on the words “Prince” and “Peace”. What are the first things that come to mind?
In Hebrew, the word “prince” is “sar” and is “a ruler or leader of various spheres of influence”. The Hebrew word for “peace” is “shalom,” which Strong’s concordance defines as “a sense of well-being, safety, or contentment which brings satisfaction.”
We can gather, then, that a Prince of Peace would be a ruler who leads us into a sense of well-being…satisfaction…safety. In a time when politicians speak incessantly about world peace, we tend to think of peace as being well-being in relationships with other countries, and the original audience of Isaiah’s prophecy certainly needed that kind of peace. We need that kind of peace now, certainly, but what if peace between people is just a shallow result of the deeper peace Jesus came to bring?
Read Luke 2:8-14. After the angel settles their nerves by telling the shepherds not to be afraid, what does he say? “I bring you ___________ ___________ of ____________ ______________ that will be for _____________ _______________.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)
One angel delivered that message, and then an entire choir of angels serves as backup: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth ___________ to men __________ ___________ __________ ___________ ___________.” (Isaiah 2:14 NIV)
Our birth announcements usually include vital statistics about the new baby: sex, length, weight. The vital statistics of the newborn baby Jesus included none of those things, instead focusing on joy and peace to all men. I see no reason to think that this newborn baby was bringing peace between war-torn countries. The most important thing about this baby? He came to bring joy and peace. This baby’s defining characteristic was not that he came to eradicate war from the earth, but to settle the unrest that leads to war in the first place.
He came not just to end conflict between people, but to end the conflict between people…and God. He came to ease unrest, all right…but that which is within US.
Jesus – this Prince of Peace – was, from the beginning, the bridge God put in place to bring us back to Him. When we are at peace with God…we have peace within ourselves…and then have no cause for anything but peace with one another.
So yes – a world embracing the Prince of Peace would be free of worldwide conflict. However, that would simply be a by-product.
Read John 14:27 and John 16:33. What assurance do we have from these verses? Does this seem to apply to the world at large, or to each of us individually?
Right. Individually. Each of us, separately, are the heirs of the Prince of Peace. He leads us in peace…establishes peace within us…and thereby brings peace to the world.
As the song goes, “Let there be peace on earth….and let it begin with me.”
Today, give some thought to the areas of your life that need peace – that sense of well-being and satisfaction. What might be different about your life if you had that kind of peace? How might that affect you? Your relationships? What is one thing you can do today to invite the peace of Jesus into yourself, so that the peace the world needs can begin with you?
I have a lot of thoughts on this and will be meditating on this through the craziness of the next week or so. I hope you’ll come back on Thursday to read more!
Until then…peace be with you, friend. Merry Christmas.