This post is the first in a series of three blog posts focusing on Isaiah, Chapter 9. The three are, in order: God’s grace through His peace, God’s justice through His peace, and God’s completion of His ultimate peace.
Today we examine God grace through His peace, focusing on Isaiah 9:6.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
During Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we are anticipating Christ’s first coming as that babe born in a manger, preparing for His arrival with Scripture readings, quiet reflection, and plaintive songs. Christ’s arrival at Christmas marks a time of joy and peace, both within and without the body of Christ, as we human beings have been seeking inner peace since our very beginning when cast out from Eden due to our hubris and disobedience.
But who is this “Prince of Peace”? And what sort of peace does he bring?
Through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, the prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus coming seven centuries before the event. In this beautiful passage often quoted on Christmas cards, one of Jesus’ names Isaiah gives is “Prince of Peace.”
In our cultural imagination, we have equated Jesus’ coming as the Prince of Peace to mean that Christmas time is an occasion for us to forget our grievances against our fellow men and women and extend the olive branch of peace. It’s a time of our finding peace. We point to the babe Christ, Prince of Peace, and say: “And a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
This understanding and application of Jesus, the Prince of Peace is, at best, only mushy, gooey sentiment. He came not to sell Hallmark® cards but to bring us into a right relationship with God, which is true and lasting peace.
Looking more deeply, the Hebrew word for “peace” used in Isaiah 9:6 is “shalom”. There are many aspects to that little word, including: safe, happy, well, friendly, welfare, health, prosperity, peace, perfect rest, well, and wholly. But the greater and overarching aspect is “making everything right, back to the way it was supposed to be from the beginning.” In other words, this “peace” means that all of mankind is no longer at war with God but has been reconciled to God and is now in right relationship with Him, as God intended it all to be.
This baby Jesus, born of a virgin, wrapped in cloth strips, and laid in a cattle trough, came to earth to bring God’s shalom.
So how does Jesus, Prince of Peace, make us right with God? How does Jesus, Prince of Peace, bring shalom?
That little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem was destined to die on a cross on Calvary, who then rose from the grave, defeating sin and death for humankind, once and for all. By dying on that cross, Jesus paid the debt of sin we rightly owed to God—Jesus died in our place—so we didn’t have to. It is who we are in Christ.
One of my very favorite Christmas carols is “Mary, Did You Know?”. This song contrasts the little, helpless human baby Jesus with the miracle-working, Son of God Jesus destined to die for our sins. Especially during this time of Christmas, we do need a constant reminder of Who really can bring shalom; it certainly is not of ourselves.
Because even if we tried, we couldn’t. We could never pay the heavy debt of sin we owed God. We unholy people of unclean lips could never by ourselves reconcile ourselves to a holy God. We could never, of ourselves, make ourselves right with God. We could never, of ourselves, restore the right relationship with God we had at the beginning before we thought we were better off as a god. We could never, of ourselves, bring shalom.
But Jesus could. And He did. Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
And God knew that. And God did that, even though we don’t deserve it. St. Paul writes in the letter to the Romans:
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
God did that for us because of his grace toward us, his undeserved favor toward us. God showed his grace toward us through peace, through the Prince of Peace.
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Copyright 2021. Sandra A. Eggers. Sharing is encouraged; however, please give credit where credit is due. Thank you.