A word talked about and referenced often, both in epochs past and in present days. A word hoped for by a world clamoring for it. A word politicians lob around to gain votes in coming elections or to create facades of momentum for their administrations (who can forget Neville Chamberlain’s famous “Peace for Our Time” declaration in 1938 concerning the Munich Agreement, only to see such a declaration undone months later as Adolf Hitler, a man bent on war, kicked off a skirmish that brought the whole world into chaos and disarray?). Certainly, around this five-letter word are aspirations often unmet, hopes in men often dashed, and promises of eternal unity often shown to be temporal indeed.
Are we then left hopeless? Is there not only a “peace for our time”, but more than that a “peace for all time”? In a world divided in the last 3 years by pandemics and masks, BLM and critical theories, sexuality and gender, wars and rumors of more wars, and on and on and on this list could go…where can we turn as we hunger for stability and ache for rest? It is to those longing hearts I write this post, hoping to be a help in answering such questions.
Albert Einstein once said this: “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.” Though I don’t agree with many of the conclusions Einstein rested on (certainly here in this quote we see I think an overdependence on human reasoning), I do like what his quote highlights for our benefit. We have to turn to what we know, build our lives on what has been made known to us by God, and when we don’t know, return to what we do know so that we can rest in the heart of a God who truly does have the “whole world in His hands”. So the question becomes: what do we know?
Understanding in Part
We know this: God’s people have been through chaos, both past and present (and surely will in the future). Let’s look at one group in particular: the disciples of Christ. Having just crossed the calendar to the other side of Easter, let’s reflect for a moment on those disciples and specifically focus on the anxiety-ridden moments that lay around the cross. What did they know prior to the build-up to the crucifixion?
- They knew that Jesus taught with authority they’d never seen before (Matthew 7:29)
- They knew that He performed miracles that no one else could bring about
- They knew He was the Christ, the sent Son of God (Matthew 16:16)
- They knew that He had done no wrong, and was a morally clean man in every respect
In all this time that they walked with Christ, it was surely busy, loud, and hectic. But they always had HIM, a person where peace could be found, a source of stability where rest could be had. They saw, they heard, they knew. Until Gethsemane, a frozen moment in time that arrested their “peace” as their teacher was arrested. Suddenly, many things they thought they knew were brought into question.
They knew their teacher was authoritative…but were then rocked when authorities took Jesus into captivity. They knew He did the miraculous…but were thrown into chaos when He didn’t exert that power but instead walked into the Sanhedrin at night. They knew He was the Son of God…but would God endure such beating at the hands of creation. They knew He was a clean man…and yet there hung Jesus between two thieves worthy of their crosses. They knew so much…and yet they still ran. Peace shattered. Darkness ensued. Has evil won?
We’re blessed to know what the disciples didn’t know that Saturday (the day after Christ’s crucifixion). We know in full what they didn’t know on that Friday as they watched their teacher maliciously abused by the hands of sinful men. For a couple of days, they only had a piece of the puzzle, and if death were the only piece they were given…well that’s no Gospel at all! There’s no peace to be found in death unless, that is, death doesn’t have the final word. Enter the resurrection, and now the puzzle is complete for them and for us!
The crucifixion, where evil had seemed to prevail, is actually the place where our sin debts are covered and slates are eternally wiped clean (Colossians 2:14). The authority that seemed to be absent on that fateful day in that garden called Gethsemane has been presented in a new way, a fuller way, as a risen Christ is now exalted highest of all (Philippians 2). This miracle-worker named Jesus, when it seemed the miraculous was far from Him as He breathed His last, only saw the stage being set just 3 days later as He rose from the grave, conquering death, an agent of chaos that has for too long robbed peace from men. This is who our God is…a God we now understand more completely on the other side of the cross and resurrection. Indeed, to go back to Einstein…peace wasn’t taken by force, it was offered by sacrifice. And to know that sacrifice, to know that Jesus, well, therein lies peace.
For all the mental focus on the crucifixion and resurrection (rightfully so), that’s not all we know, nor all we should reflect on. This Jesus has given His followers work to do, marching orders as it were. He struck the fatal blow to the kingdom of darkness, and now we as His risen saints have been tasked to take this “Prince of Peace” around the globe. And we now know at the right time, at the appointed time, this risen King will come back for His bride, and on His return, He will be expecting a faithful bride.
Is our task easy? Certainly no. Are storms around us? Certainly, they are. Would Satan love to see the souls of Christians brought to a state of paralysis? Undoubtedly. But what must we understand in those times of trial:
- Jesus loves me. His sacrifice proves it.
- Jesus is alive. The empty tomb shows it.
- The time of wickedness is short. A soon returning Jesus defeats it.
- Home is waiting. Jesus has said it.
What does this understanding of Jesus, a more complete picture of Christ, do for me? It reminds me that even if there’s not currently “peace in our time”, I rest in the One who has made for me a “peace for all time”. Peace in the One I know.
Nathan began in 2016 and enjoys reading, watching or playing sports, taking walks with his wife Ashley, and going to Fresh Market to “sample” candy!