The Gift of Peace
Peace is a word with many definitions. In our culture, it can be a ‘cool’ way to say goodbye. In other cultures, it can be a state of security within a given community. Peace is defined in the dictionary as a state of tranquility or quiet. The Bible, as we know, has a lot to say about peace. The word peace appears 329 times throughout the Bible. But why is peace such a significant part of God’s revelation of Himself? In this blog, we will explore the gift of peace that God has so graciously revealed to us through the Scriptures and, ultimately, His son Jesus Christ.
Biblical Definition of Peace
Peace has a variety of meanings within the Scriptures, but the most common usage and understanding of the word peace in Jesus’ day was the absence of war or chaos. When we think about peace in our culture, this can often be how the word is used, as well. We as humans desire peaceful living, void of conflict with our neighbors or surrounding nations. The Bible recognizes this human desire and often uses the word peace to describe situations that are void of conflict. We see in Romans 12:18 that Paul commands, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” It is obvious that Paul uses peace in this verse to command us to live without conflict with our neighbor. If we look at the Old Testament, we see similar usages of the word peace. Leviticus 26:6 says, “I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.” The word peace here in Hebrew is Shalom, which translates directly to peace. We see that God is giving peace by allowing the Israelites to be void of conflict with the beasts of the land and war with surrounding nations. In these two examples, we see evidence that peace is often used as a way to describe the absence of conflict. But how does the definition of peace in the Bible help us understand the peace that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, gives us?
Our Conflict with God
Peace is the absence of conflict, but why is Jesus often called the Prince of Peace? We know that Jesus is not a war hero, and we know that our world still is riddled with conflict. The people of Israel in Jesus’ day believed that the Messiah would be a political hero that would deliver Israel from the oppression of Rome. Certainly, that is not what Jesus came to do, as Rome would continue to oppress Israel after Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, what peace did Jesus bring? Isaiah 48:22 says, “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.” Who are the wicked? We read in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Every human being is born wicked, and therefore there is no peace for any of us. Because of our innate wickedness and sin, we are in constant conflict with God. There is no peace for the wicked and sinful because they are in conflict with their Creator. This is the central problem with humanity. We seek to find peace in every nook and cranny of this world, but we are never truly at peace because we lack peace with God. But the question still remains, what is Jesus’ role as the Prince of Peace? How does He fit into this narrative of humanity’s conflict with God?
The Gift of Peace
Conflict with God is not something that we as humans have the power to resolve. What can we do to change God’s mind about our sin? Jesus says in Matthew 5:20, “But I warn you- unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” In Jesus’ day, the people of Israel admired the righteousness of the Pharisees. The people tried to mimic such righteousness, believing that none could be better than the Pharisees. Jesus’ words set a standard that nobody could attain and therefore created a situation in which the people had to recognize that they could not be righteous by their own deeds and actions. Over 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah revealed the way in which God would bring us peace in our conflict with Him. Isaiah 53:4-5 says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” This prophecy from Isaiah is about Jesus Christ, our Savior, who would fulfill this prophecy with his life, death, and resurrection. We see clearly in these verses why Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We have no power or ability to solve our conflict with God, but God Himself does. Jesus came into this world to be pierced and crushed, not for his iniquities, but for ours. Jesus was perfect, yet he was chastised to bring us peace. Put simply, Jesus paid the price for our sins, a price that we could never pay. Paul writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” For those who put their faith in Jesus and his substitutionary atonement on the cross, they are given peace and harmony with God. This is why Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He gives us peace with God. Despite our sin and wickedness, God showers us with his unmerited favor and offers us harmony with Him, and the forgiveness of our sins. During this holiday season, don’t miss the greatest gift anyone could ever receive: peace with the Creator of the Universe.
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