Peaceful is probably the last word that I would use to describe the past year. In fact, many nights this year I’ve lost sleep wondering how to interact with a world that feels so hostile, so angry, so upset and in no way shape or form, peaceful. From politics, to public health, to racial injustice, to ideological battles and social media skirmishes, nowhere that I run to is safe for connection and security… maybe aside from our weekly routine of watching the Mandalorian with my significant other. I’ve battled my own inner demons that want to tell me that I’m wrong or bad, should be worried or scared about one thing or another on and off since March. My world, both internally and externally, no longer feels safe.
Yet, an oracle in Isaiah 4:6 says this about the expected messiah: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Prince of Peace. Our Messiah, the savior of the world, our Jesus, the one who became like us in the form of bodily flesh is the prince of Peace. Yet, there is no peace. What could this mean?
At the time of Jesus’ arrival, there also was no peace for the Israelites. There was heavy oppression by the Roman government. Based on the oracle in Isaiah and plenty other references in Old Testament scripture, the Jewish people were anticipating a ruler, a King, a governmental authority to restore peace again to the world. He would be a wonderful counselor, mighty God and everlasting Father, similar to but greater than the famous King David. Perhaps, that’s why in confusion, John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “is it you? Or should we be expecting someone else?”
Politics and governmental oversight aren’t all bad, but I’ve found myself many times looking to them this year to solve the unrest that I see in the world… putting my hope in them to make sense of the chaos that surrounds me. If this guy were only president we wouldn’t be where we are today… if this man weren’t president, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today, if we had only done this, maybe we would have peace… the list goes on, constantly searching for what our hearts truly long for: a trusted savior that will bring peace.
The Jewish people had in their minds very similar thoughts as Jesus arrived. If our messiah would only do x, y or z for us, we would be saved, triumph over Rome and we would have peace. However, he brought peace in the most unusual of ways… not through the power of an army, sword, conquering kingdoms or government power, but through meekness, humility and vulnerability. He took the form of a traveling carpenter who taught ways of a new Kingdom that “is not from this world” (John 18:36). He brought peace through transformative individual acts of restoring creation to its original healthy order through healing those who were sick, caring for the poor and the needy, declaring freedom for the captives and forgiving sins, all without formal government or structural power.
Our Prince of Peace enacted and lived out life in the Kingdom that DOES bring peace, something he even verbalized as he healed the sick (Luke 7:50, 8:48). He embodied it, lived it, transformed creation around Him and touched the lives of the human beings which he so dearly loved.
Therefore, in my own time of unrest, I remember that I too, belong to a Kingdom that is not from this world. Though I am thankful for aspects of the government that I live under, I am more thankful for the Kingdom principles that I live under that are perfect and bring life and peace in every situation… principles I have the power to fill my mind with and embody as a continued disciple of Jesus. As I finish out this advent season, I am challenging myself to fill my mind with the Kingdom of God, the one ushered in by the perfect Prince of Peace whose birth and arrival we are celebrating in this season.
Join me this week by following along on instagram (@bcmvt) for ways to meditate on how to be a peacemaker with the principles of the Kingdom of God in the same way that Jesus was.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”