“Peace” is heard often at Christmas time. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be called the Prince of Peace. And the angel announced to the shepherds “peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (NLT) But what kind of peace and when, and who will enjoy it? Consider these possibly confusing quotes from Jesus and Paul in the New Testament:
Jesus: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” He then describes how families will be divided on the basis of their belief or disbelief in Him. (Matthew 10:34)
Jesus: Peace I leave with you…not as the world gives…let not your heart be troubled/afraid. (John 14:27)
Paul: Having been justified by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Paul: Christ is our peace, reconciling Jewish and Gentile believers (Ephesians 2:14,15)
The key is to realize that “peace” has several different senses and to understand each reference in the way in which it was intended. The following four senses of “peace” are listed in the American Heritage Dictionary:
- Absence of hostility / war
- Harmonious interpersonal relationship
- Public security
- Inner calm, serenity
Can you match the above references with these different senses?
Another key is to see how these various senses relate to one another, especially within the kingdom of God:
- Christ’s mission was to reconcile people with God by dealing with the sin problem.
- Those who have been reconciled with God can forgive and accept one another, living in harmony.
- Trust in God’s love, power, and goodness brings inner calm.
- And someday, as Isaiah and the angel said, Christ will rule over a harmonious, peaceful Kingdom where all will be secure. This is what is often referred to as “The Peaceable Kingdom” where children, wild and domestic animals will all frolic together.
But all of this is possible only under Christ, the Prince of Peace!
All other so-called “peace” is shallow, artificial, and short-lived.