During this second full week of our Perfect Peace Bible Reading Plan, two verses stood out to me (all verses from ESV).
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
Jesus Christ is the one described by the prophet Isaiah as the Prince of Peace.
We live in a world filled with war and violence. Peace is sought but often fleeting in both world politics and human hearts. So how is Jesus the Prince of Peace?
The Hebrew word shalom, translated peace in this verse and many other verses in the Old Testament, goes beyond our normal understanding of peace. It speaks of a complete peace, a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony. The calm and tranquility that are characteristic of this kind of peace can be between individuals, groups, or nations.
As Jesus went around and ministered to the needy, He demonstrated He had the authority to bring peace. One vivid example comes to mind. As Jesus and His disciples were in a boat, a storm arose. The disciples became fearful, even awakening Jesus from sleep and accusing Him of not caring if they perished, but with His words Jesus stilled the storm. “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39 ESV
Yet Luke 12:51 tells us Jesus did not come to give peace on earth. The peace He primarily came to give was an inner peace in the lives of individuals like you and me. A peace that we can experience regardless of what is going on around us.
As He said in John 16:33, He came“… that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
This deeper, more foundational peace for those who believe in Jesus Christ is twofold:
- Jesus came to make a way for us to have peace with God, the spiritual harmony brought about in each individual’s life when they believe in Jesus as the substitutionary sacrifice for their sin.
- Jesus also came to give those who put their trust in Him access to the peace of God, His own peace, poured out on us when we ask.
We have peace with God if at some point in our life we accepted Christ’s sacrifice as our own. We received forgiveness for our sin and our relationship with God, once broken by sin, was restored. This is described in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God is a constant in the life of a believer in Christ Jesus. It is an eternal peace.
In contrast, the peace of God is something we must take hold of by faith on an ongoing basis. It can be disturbed any time we turn out focus on our circumstances and off of the God who is ultimately in control of our circumstances. This peace is one of the fruits of the spirit which God desires to manifest in our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) It is the inner sense of rest we experience when instead of giving place to fear and anxiety, we come to God and ask His help. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
So how do we take hold of and continue in this peace of God that allows us to walk undisturbed within regardless of the storms howling around us. There are four keys that come to mind.
- Recognize the peace of God is one of the fruits of the Spirit, not something we can manufacture in our own strength,
- Remember the way God has given us to take hold of His peace, by humbly bringing our requests to Him by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.
- Remain in the place of perfect peace by steadfastly keeping our focus on the character and promises of our God.
- Finally, if in our human weakness we allow our focus to shift back on our troubling circumstances, repent and once again turn our eyes on God, committing our circumstances afresh into His capable hands.