Like gentle rains in the desert were the promises of peace scattered here and there throughout the Torah and the Prophets and the Psalter. Snatches of hope to cling to in the midst of captivity and chaos and a crumbling world. With the Messiah would come hope, and with the Messiah would also come peace.
Though now they look for light and find darkness, yet spilling from the lips of the Holy One they hear a precious promise: “Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near. I will heal him.”
And when we fast forward a few hundred years we see the fulfillment of that promise.
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.
And was that same message of peace not on the lips of the angels as they sang their song to the shepherds?
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.
And do we not see the hearts of many filled with peace at the birth of this child?
Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace… for my eyes have seen Your salvation.
Then we watch the Child become a Man and we wait to hear His spoken message of peace, the answer to the promise from hundreds of years past.
But the conception of this Son brought tension to the lives of two children of David.
The birth of this Son wrenched cries of grief from Rachel as her children were dashed to pieces by the soldiers of Herod.
The childhood of this Son struck worry into the hearts of his parents as they searched for their lost Child.
And the life of this Son was anything but peace. It was filled with a strained relationship between Rabbi and Pharisee. Direct battle with the enemy of God. Constant clamor for attention from the ever-present multitudes. Storming the temple of God with a whip. Calling out the religious leaders as concealed hypocrites.
And His teaching – calling men and women to love their enemies, bless those who curse, do good to those who hate. Is this the kind of peace we expected from this Preacher, our Messiah? This is not what we looked for, what we anticipated.
And He came and preached peace.
But the death of this Son was anything but our idea of peace. A knife that pierces our soul. Our hope, our light, our Messiah, hanging where He ought to be reigning. All the world able to see our crucified Peace as He cries to a God who has forsaken Him.
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him.
Yet in the middle of this chaos rings the clear promise of God made many years ago, a promise He has not forgotten, but rather has now just fulfilled.
And this One shall be peace.
And so we realize that the idea of peace we have conceived in our minds is a radically different kind of peace than that which is in the mind of God. In all our wildest imaginations, we could never have dreamed up the paradoxical kind of peace He preached to us.
Although we have eternity in our hearts, our minds are stranded in the now, chained to Time. And the peace we look for is temporal, for today.
His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are higher than ours. The peace Messiah preached was peace with God.
If the peace He brought was temporal, it would be corruptible, and not live past the death of Time.
But peace with God – that is eternal. And when our flesh is destroyed, peace with God will live on.
Jesus did not preach our idea of peace on earth. He preached the opposite. “In this world you will have tribulation.” “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” He even foretold how the synagogues would remove them, how His followers would be killed by those who think their death does God a service. He did not promise peace on earth. Instead, He gave us something better. He broke down the middle wall of separation. God has reconciled us.
He Himself is our peace.
Trade the passing for the eternal, seeing the perfect paradox of the peace of God. Because in the middle of a world spinning out of control, captive to sin, chaos ruling, crumbling onto our shoulders, yet we have peace. Peace with God. True peace.
And this One shall be peace.
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All Scripture quotations are from the NKJV.
References used, direct and indirect: Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 55:8-9, Isaiah 57:19, Isaiah 59:9, Micah 5:5, Matthew 2:18, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 23:13-36, Luke 2:14, Luke 2:29-30, Luke 2:48, Luke 4:8, John 2:13-16, John 15:18, John 16:2, John 16:33, Ephesians 2:14-17
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