Friday, December 24, 2010

Prince of Peace

Tonight we celebrate the birth of Jesus called the Christ. His birth was foretold by prophets of old and announced to shepherds on a hillside. Many were longing for the coming of this child and most missed his arrival. Yet he came as promised and he brought with him the promised peace that Isaiah spoke of in his prophecy.

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.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

Peace is an amazing gift and one that is often misunderstood and perhaps under-appreciated in this day. We believe that it is the cessation of work or war or economic strife or personal turmoil. Yet with the coming of the Price of Peace we still have these things. Could it be that because his kingdom of now and not yet has not fully been established that we don’t have the peace we so desperately long for? Or is it that we don’t understand the full implications of the peace that Christ brought to us? I believe the answer is yes!

The full implementation of the peace of God will not fully be implemented until our King returns and his kingdom is fully established. But I also know that he has given us peace that we don’t understand and I hope today to help each of us understand it a little better.

When Jesus left after his resurrection he gave us peace 27 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)

So what does this peace look like? The promise of God’s peace is wrapped up in our understanding the Hebrew word shalōm. This term has a wide range of connotations (well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, completeness wholeness, harmony, and salvation) and could apply to an equally wide range of contexts: the state of the individual (Ps 37:37; Prov 3:2; Is 32:17), the relationship of man to man (Gen 34:21; Josh 9:15) or nation to nation (e.g., absence of conflict—Deut 2:26; Josh 10:21; 1 Kings 5:12; Ps 122:6, 7), and the relationship of God and man (Ps 85:8; Jer 16:5). Additionally it is still used as an expression of greeting (peace and grace), farewell (peace be with you) and in church settings as a benediction (go in peace).

The nature of this gift of peace brought by Jesus may be easier to explain by stating what it is not. It is not an end to tension, an absence of warfare, domestic tranquility, nor anything like the worldly estimation of peace (Luke 12:51–53; John 14:27; 16:32, 33; although with the full implementation of the Kingdom all of these will be true). Currently its presence may, on the contrary, actually disturb existing relations, being a dividing “sword” in familial relations (Matt 10:34–37). Jesus’ gift of peace is, in reality, the character and mood of the new covenant of his blood which reconciles God to man (Rom 5:1; Col 1:20) and forms the basis of subsequent reconciliation between men under Christ (Eph 2:14–22).

Peace is also one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), which is the goal of the Christian’s dealings with others (Rom 12:18; 14:19; Heb 12:14, etc.), and marks our identity as a “child of God” (Matt 5:9).

This is the greater peace our King came to bring us and this is the peace that is available to all who are willing to accept this gift from God.

Merry Christmas

May you know the true peace of God this Christmas Season!

Pastor Val

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