Part 5 of a 5-part series on Isaiah 9:6
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
When Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan encountered favorable winds upon reaching the great sea west and south of the Americas in 1521, he named it Mar Pacifico, or peaceful sea. He saw nothing of the fierce storms that could stir up without warning and rage havoc on both deep and coastal waters.
Peace is like that, isn’t it?
What appears to be peaceful often isn’t. Underneath the surface are churning waters and brewing storms that can break out at a moment’s notice. Why? One word: sin. Our inborn selfishness turns us into little war machines, breaking peace with others to get what we want no matter the cost (see James 4:1-3).
What does it mean that Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Probably not what you expect. Jesus said in John 14:27 (NLT):
I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.
The peace Jesus gives is not what the world considers peace. I have a wall hanging that says:
Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.
This is the difference between how the world views peace and how a believer in Jesus Christ views peace. Jesus guaranteed trials and tribulation for believers, but he also guaranteed his presence and victory in the midst of them. From John 16:33,
I have told you these things so that you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means tranquility, safety, and security; it means that you are no longer at war with an enemy. It also means a state of wholeness. Prince is one who takes the lead, a ruler, chief, captain, or savior.
What is this peace that the Prince of Peace has wrought for us?
Ken Sande, in his book The Peacemaker1, says “Many people care little about their relationships with God and other people, but they still want peace within themselves…which is impossible unless you also pursue peace with God and others.”
Think of being at peace on three levels: peace with God, peace with others, and peace within yourself.
Peace with God – The Primary Peace
Sin separates us from God, making us his enemies (See Colossians 1:21 and Romans 5:10).
But God, because of his great love for us, provided a way to be reconciled to him through the death of his son Jesus, the Prince of Peace, on the cross (See Romans 5:8).
Those who place their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf are restored to a relationship of peace (i.e., reconciled) with God (see Romans 5:1, Colossians 1:20, and 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Once that transaction takes place, it is still possible for sin to hinder the free-flowing peace that Jesus continuously offers. Whenever I get in a spiritual funk and my soul is restless, I can trace it back to the lack of one or more of these things that have gone missing from my daily life: time spent in prayer, God’s word, worship, and confession. Active relationship keeps the pipeline clear and unobstructed (see Acts 2:42 and 1 John 1:9).
Peace with Others – The Practice of Peace
Peace with others is an extension of the peace we have received from God. We’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation to a lost and hurting world, ambassadors of peace reflecting the love and grace of God (2 Cor. 5:18-21, Eph. 2:14-15).
To paraphrase a thought in Ken Sande’s book, our inability to resolve conflict diminishes the power of the gospel in our lives (1 Cor. 6:4-7), while the ability to peacefully resolve conflict marks us as Spirit-filled children of God (see Matthew 5:9 & Galatians 5:22).
I wonder what my coworkers or family members or friends would say about that.
Romans 12:18 (NIV) says, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
To practice peace means to:
- See to practical needs of fellow brothers and sisters (James 2:16)
- Embrace the way God does things (Romans 2:10, MSG)
- Build others up (Romans 14:19)
- Be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and unified (Ephesians 4:1-3)
- Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)
- Above all, walk in love (Ephesians 5:2 & 1 Peter 4:8)
Peace within Ourselves – The Promises of Peace
Inner peace comes from the following:
- Trusting God and placing our hope in him (Romans 15:13, John 14:27).
- Surrendering to the Holy Spirit who will bear the fruit of peace in our lives (Romans 8:6 and Galatians 5:22).
- Rejoicing, thanksgiving, and prayer (Phil. 4:4-6).
- Receiving and extending grace (ever notice how all of Paul’s letters start with “grace and peace?”).
When we have made peace with God and others, and trusted him for inner peace, the promises of peace are realized in our daily lives:
- The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7, NIV)
- Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18)
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God (Matt 5:9)
When we pray for peace, the answer is Jesus himself – he is our peace, the one who reconciles us to God and others, and restores us to wholeness (Ephesians 2:13-14).
Peacemaking is impossible in our own strength – we must offer our lives as living sacrifices to be transformed by the power of God (Romans 12:1-2). This enables us to live at peace God and others, and receive it for ourselves.
Are you at peace with God?
With whom do you need to make peace?
Are you trusting Him for inner peace?
1Ken Sande, The Peacemaker (Baker Books, 2004), 44.
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