In so many of our carols sung during this wonderful time of year, the word peace is mentioned quite often. We sing of, “peace on earth” and, “sleep in heavenly peace”, but the world that baby Jesus entered was far from peaceful. It was and still is a world in conflict and sin.
The Messiah that Isaiah wrote about was called, among other things, “The Prince of Peace.” Jesus indeed was and is the Prince of Peace, but I fear that most of the world has distorted the meaning of peace into something far different than what Jesus offered.
This word peace used here in His title, shalom, carries with it far more than just the absence of conflict. It is a word that carries with it the meaning of wholeness, blessing, and completeness. It is a word that is packed with the full blessing of God. Jesus is not being called the “Prince of Lack of Conflict.” He is being called and titled as the “Prince of Wholeness and Completion.” You see, it is the very reason that He could say, “It is finished” while hanging on the cross, because He came to complete us spiritually. His sacrifice upon the cross did just that for those who have trusted Him as Savior.
This Christmas season as I reflect back upon the birth of the Messiah, I see many similarities in the world that He entered. Turmoil, political chaos, despair for many, hopelessness, and not much hope in the circumstances of the day. I see a world that was trying to gain peace through any means possible but was failing at every turn.
I look back at the life of Christ and see his ministry years highlighted by conflict. Most of Jesus’ ministry could not be quantified as peaceful or comfortable by any means. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus dealt with conflict. He was in conflict with the religious leaders of the day, with the false expectations of those that thought he was there to establish an earthly kingdom, with the ruling government, and with those who followed Him only for what they could gain from Him. In the end, He was threatened, plotted against, betrayed, arrested, illegally tried, had false witnesses brought against him, convicted wrongly, sentenced to death, mocked, humiliated, tortured, and then killed. Nothing concerning the circumstances of Jesus’ life, ministry, and death were peaceful.
The world and the earthly life of Christ cannot be defined as peaceful, but that is because we have our eyes on the wrong view of peace. Many will say, “if only justice, then peace,” or, “if only equality or equity, then peace,” or, “if only wealth, then peace,” or maybe even, ”if only proper political power, then peace.” But the problem 2000 years ago and the problem today is that peace is never found in man’s view of justice, circumstances, finances, or politics.
Peace, shalom, wholeness, completion can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul began most of his epistles with the phrase, “Grace and peace to you from God through Jesus Christ.” Most of these churches that Paul was writing to were in the midst of great conflict, trials, persecutions, and difficulties. How tone-deaf it would have been for Paul to wish them “lack of conflict.” Their circumstances were full of conflict, but Paul was greeting them with so much more than just a wish for the absence of conflict. Paul was speaking of the incredible fullness of the blessing of God who, through Jesus Christ, has given them such spiritual wholeness and completion that in every circumstance, difficulty, trial, and heartache of life you already have peace. You are already spiritually whole and restored to a relationship with our gracious God. Those are words that can comfort us through any circumstance as a reminder of who we are through Jesus and His sacrifice.
This Christmas season may we reflect on, rejoice in, and celebrate the Prince of Peace – the One who came as the full blessing of God to restore us to a relationship with the Father. The greatest gift ever given was not sent to remove conflict or difficult circumstances, but was sent to give us spiritual wholeness and completion in the midst of our difficult circumstances.
Thank you, Jesus, for being the Prince of Peace.
Pastor Kent Gregory
Kent has been a part of HBC staff since February 1998. He enjoys all things sports, being outdoors, and building projects.