The Prince of Peace?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 23, 2007

 

Main Passage: John 1:1-18 (NLT)


It was Christmas Eve. The year was 1864. The American Civil War was in full swing, threatening to destroy our neighbours to the south. [For sake of those reading online, I’m speaking from Canada and referring to the entire US as the south.] Many young men were off to combat, either for the Union States of the north or for the Confederate States of the south. And after one particular battle, a retired Harvard professor living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received word that his son Charles had been seriously wounded in battle.

This professor, being a bit of a poet, sat down the next morning—Christmas Day—and expressed his anguish in verse. The father’s name–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. These are the words he wrote…

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of Peace on earth, Goodwill to Men.”

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Those are very gloomy, hopeless words that that father wrote down that day. “Peace on earth? Yeah, right. My son has just been critically wounded in war. Where’s the peace?”

You know, this world has actually seen very little peace. I mean, every Christmas we talk about Jesus as being the Prince of Peace, we remember how the angel told the shepherds that Jesus would bring peace to the earth, but all you’ve got to do is turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper or visit a schoolyard, and you’ll quickly discover that there is very little “Peace on earth.”

In fact, statisticians say that since the beginning of recorded history, the world has been at peace less than 8% of the time!
In the past 3550 years, only 286 years saw peace.
During that time, more than 8000 peace treaties have been made—and broken.
(Moody Bible Institute, Today In The Word, June 1988, p.33 date adjusted for 2008)

That doesn’t sound like Jesus did what He was supposed to do, does it? I mean, if He came to bring peace, why isn’t there peace?


Well, it’s true that here in North America we tend to define peace by what it’s not. We define peace as being the absence of war. That’s how we typically look at it.

But did you know that peace means different things to different people around the world?

To the Piro tribal people of Peru, the word “peace” means, “the well-arranged soul.”

In this place (one of you world travelers will have to tell me how to pronounce it)—Zacapoaxtla—in southern Mexico the word they use for peace means, “completeness.”

To these people (Gbeapo) of Liberia, it means, “my heart sits down.”

And to the Baouli people of Ivory Coast, it means “a song in my body.”

Okay, I don’t know how to pronounce their names, but I do know that they paint some pretty nice word pictures there, don’t they?

There’s another word for peace, too. It’s an old Hebrew word used by the Israelites of long ago, and still used by Jews today. Anybody know the word I mean?

Shalom

Now, Shalom can actually mean a lot of things. It can mean “hello”, it can mean “goodbye”, it can mean “wellbeing”, and it can mean “peace”… but not just peace as in the absence of war. Sure, it can mean that, but that’s not all it means. It also indicates health and wholeness. It denotes harmony and completeness. To have shalom is not just about having a quiet life free from war; it’s to have a fulfilled life in every way.

When you have shalom there is no feeling of harm or hurt. When you have shalom you are in a state of ease and safety. You don’t live in fear. There’s no worry. There is a sense of harmony and oneness. You know your purpose in life and you have a sense of wholeness and completeness. Everything is exactly the way it should be; nothing is out of order. It’s an inward state of being that is expressed outwardly. This is shalom–this is the kind of peace that Jesus came to bring. This is what we mean when we call Jesus the Prince of Peace.

And yes, someday He will put an end to all wars and battles throughout the earth. But in the meantime, He offers you peace in your very soul. He was, and is, and ever will be… the Prince of Peace.

In fact, in the Old Testament, 700 years before Jesus was actually born, Isaiah the prophet described Jesus this way…

Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Now, there’s a lot of titles in there; I want to just focus in on that last one this morning. “Prince of Peace.” Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.”

In Hebrew, the words that Isaiah wrote down were “sar-shalom.”

“Sar” is the word for prince. Now, normal when we think of a prince, we think of the son of a king. But that’s not what this word is designed to make us think. This word literally means the head person, the captain, the governor. It’s the man in charge. It’s the go-to guy.

Now, I couldn’t verify that there’s a connection, but that word “sar” reminds me of another really old word: Caesar. That’s the title Romans used for their ruler. That was their head guy.

And in Russia, right up until the Bolshevik Revolution, the Russians used another very similar title for their head of state. They called their ruler the, “czar.”

Jesus is the sar-shalom. He’s the Prince of Peace. He’s the one in charge. He’s the source of shalom—well-being, happiness, completeness, peace.

That’s the context of Isaiah’s prophecy. That’s what the angel meant when he told the shepherds that Jesus would bring peace.


So for the rest of our time here this morning, I want us to look at two ways that Jesus brings this peace to you and to me. Okay? And you can use your notes to follow along and fill in the blanks.


In What Ways Does Jesus Bring Me Peace?

1.    Jesus brings peace between me and God.

As someone has said…

“It is not possible to have the Peace of God without Peace with God.”

Now, we’ve talked about it before. Each of us because of the sinfulness in our lives has a problem with God. Our sin separates us from God. When we sin we do things that we know God wouldn’t approve of. He’s given us His guidelines in the Bible, and when we choose to go our own way instead of His, we create a barrier between us and Him. And it’s not just our sinful acts that are the problem; it’s our sin nature that leads to those acts. And we’re all born with a sin nature that separates us from God.

And what this means is, we don’t have peace with God. In fact, because of this sinfulness that’s a part of who we are, the Bible actually calls us…

Romans 5:10 (NIV)
“…we were God's enemies…”

Our sin separates us from God. So before we can have peace with God – something must be done about that sin. And guess what? Something has been done!

Take a look at this…

VIDEO – BLUEFISHTV.COM – JESUS: THE ULTIMATE GIFT

Think about it this way: our sin puts us in a state of war with God. We don’t have peace. And so God the Father sent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to fix the problem. He sent the Prince of Peace give us peace with God.

And when that Prince of Peace grew up and suffered and died on the cross, He made it possible for that peace to be realized.

Hebrews 9:26 (MSG)
“He sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.”

Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sin problem. And because of that, we can now have peace with God.


Plus, because of Jesus, we can also have peace with ourselves.

2. Jesus brings peace within MYSELF.

Look at these words from Jesus…

Matthew 6:26 (NLT)
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”

Jesus taught us about our own worth. So how much are you worth? What is your value? Later in Matthew, Jesus says…

Matthew 10:30 (NLT)
“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”

What Jesus is saying there is, God loves you. He knows everything there is about you. He cares about you. He longs to know you. In fact, He places so much worth in you that He became a man so He could die for you. That’s how much He values you.

Listen, God don’t make no junk. Yes, I know, that’s not proper grammar. And we do have some teachers here. But relax; you’re on your Christmas break. Just let this one slide.

God don’t make no junk. What He makes is perfect. What He touches is holy and pure. He takes that which is bent and straightens it out. He takes that which is dirty and cleans it up. He takes that which is broken and fixes it. If you are a follower of Jesus–if you’ve accepted that what Jesus did by coming to earth and dying on the cross He did for you–then you are His precious child and He values you beyond measure. Look at what it says in first Peter chapter two:

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NLT)
“…For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

That’s how God has valued you. That’s how He has shown you your worth. He’s chosen you to be His people. And once you truly understand how much He values you, that can’t help but to boost your own self-image.

You know, a lot of people in this world live with a self-loothing. They have no sense of their own worth. They despise themselves for their limitations. And they beat themselves up daily. They have no peace within themselves.

But the Prince of Peace has come so that we can have peace within ourselves. So that we can understand our self-worth. So we can see that we have value in God’s kingdom.

You know who understands this? Robert Reed understands this. No, not the Robert Reed that starred on The Brady Bunch. You probably don’t know about this Robert Reed. So let me tell you about him.

Robert Reed is not a movie star. He’s not a great athlete. He’s not chart-topping musician. He’s a missionary. Robert graduated from Abilene Christian University in Texas with a degree in Latin, taught at a junior college in St. Louis, and ventured overseas on five mission trips before finally moving to Lisbon in Portugal as a missionary in 1972. And when he got there, he did three things right away—he rented a hotel room where he could live, he began studying Portuguese so he could better communicate, and he found a restaurant owner who would feed him – because he could not feed himself.

You see, Robert has Cerebral Palsy. His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t brush his own teeth. He can’t put on his own underwear. His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro. His speech drags like a worn out audio cassette. He can’t drive a car. He can’t ride a bike. He can’t even go for walk. But that did not keep him from becoming a missionary to Portugal.

Everyday, Robert would station himself in a park where he would use his twisted hands to pass out brochures about Jesus. And within six years, he helped introduce seventy people to Jesus, one who became his wife, Rosa.

Now, Robert could have been bitter because of his disease – but he didn’t. Robert could have asked for pity – but he didn’t. Robert could have adopted a really bad self-image - but he didn’t. Robert does just the opposite. He celebrates.

Max Lucado is an author some of you are familiar with, and he tells the story of Robert Reed in some of his writing. And he tells about how he went to hear Robert Reed speak. Let me read you what he wrote…

“I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform. I watched them lay a Bible in his lap. I watched his stiff fingers force open the pages. And I watched people in the audience wipe away tears of admiration from their faces. Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite. He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, "I have everything I need for joy.”
~ Max Lucado, Peace that Defies Pain, p. 4

That’s a man who has peace within himself. That’s a man who understand his worth. That’s a man who has experienced the peace that only the Prince of Peace—Jesus—can bring.


Jesus came to bring peace… peace between me and God, and peace within myself. That’s true for me; that’s true for you. That’s the kind of spiritual peace we can experience today because of the Advent—the coming—of Jesus to earth.

But in case you’re wondering… yes, someday there will be a physical peace, too. When Jesus comes again—his second advent—He will fully establish His Kingdom on earth and there will be peace. Isaiah wrote about the first coming of Jesus; he also wrote about the second coming. He talked about how on that day, wild animals will live in peace with each other… animals that now kill for food will eat hay instead… little children will be able to safely play around venomous snakes… and there will be no more killing, there will be no more death… God’s peace will rule over all.

Isaiah 11:6-9 (NLT)
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.



Now, I started off this morning by looking at that poem by Longfellow. Years later, those words were put to music in a Christmas Carol I’m sure you know – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. We’ve looked at the verse where Longfellow expressed his despair and hopelessness after hearing about his son being wounded in battle. But then he went on to write…

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.”

Longfellow understood that even in a war-torn world, there is a peace that surpasses all understanding—a peace that only Jesus can give. Let’s pray.


God, we know that one day you will bring a full and complete political peace to this world. You’ll put an end to all wars and conflicts, there will be no more death or destruction, there will be peace.

But for now, while all of that is able to continue, thank you for coming to offer us a spiritual peace… a peace between us and our Creator and a peace within ourselves. For anyone here this morning, Lord, who is struggling to experience this peace, we pray that you’ll make it a reality for them. For those who have been living far from you, draw them close we pray. Even at this moment, if they will decide to follow you and live for you, we know that You will fill them with a peace, knowing that they are made right with God. And for those who are battling with a poor self-image and even with self-hate, we pray that you will instill in them a sense of worth. Remind them of the value You place in them.

We thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Sources:
Prince of Peace by K. Edward Skidmore http://sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp?ContributorID=&SermonID=74665
Our Prince Of Peace by Tom Shepard http://sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp?ContributorID=&SermonID=115904
Prince of Peace by Hal Seed  http://sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp?ContributorID=&SermonID=109870
Peace that Defies Pain by Max Lucado www.maxlucado.com/pdf/peace.defies.pain.pdf





 

 

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