“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).
It’s the official verse of spiritual Christmas decorations everywhere. We find it on nativity scenes, wall hangings, decorative plates, and Christmas mugs. Most of the descriptions of Christ found here are pretty straightforward, but I often find people missing the real point of Jesus being the Prince of Peace. Many people either totally misinterpret the meaning. Others just sell short the peace that Christ brings. Jesus didn’t come to bring warm-fuzzies-in-the-tummy, nothing-bad-will-ever-happen-to-me-because-of-my-faith peace. He didn’t only come to bring peace to us in the midst of our troubles and sorrows, though He does promise comfort and peace to His followers. The ultimate peace that Jesus brings is the peace that He made possible between God and man.
The Root of the Problem
The root of our problem is sin and there are a couple of things that we have to understand about it before we can really appreciate the peace that Christ offers. 1) No one is without sin (Romans 3:23). So whatever the consequences of sin are (points 2 & 3), all of us deserve them. 2) Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). God is perfectly holy and without sin, which means that sin cannot exist in His presence. While sin reigns in our hearts, it is impossible for us to have a true relationship with God. 3) Sin earns us the wrath and judgment of God, which culminates in spiritual death (Romans 6:23, Romans 5:12). Sin doesn’t just make us a little disobedient. Sin makes us traitors to the king of the universe. It makes us radicals who have taken up arms against His rule. Historically, treason has almost always been punishable by death, and this is no exception. The ultimate consequence of sin is spiritual death for eternity, but there is a remedy, and once we understand the gravity and severity of our sin and its consequences, we can begin to appreciate that remedy.
The Prince of Peace
The peace that Christ came to bring is peace between God and man. Yes, He promised to give comfort and relief to His people in their times of need, but He also knew that we needed more than that. More than we need relief from our temporal problems, we need redemption from the curse of sin and rescue from the wrath of God. The perfect holiness of God demanded a perfect sacrifice to atone for sin, so Jesus chose to enter the world in the form of a man in order to be that sacrifice. In doing so, by living perfectly and surrendering his life on a cross, He made it possible for us to be at peace with God instead of under His righteous condemnation.
A great illustration of this is found in the tearing of the temple veil. Three of the four Gospel writers record that, at the death of Christ, the temple veil (really more of an extremely thick curtain) was supernaturally torn in half from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45). This veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple complex. The Holy of Holies was the area in which the Ark of the Covenant rested and where the high priest would enter once a year into the presence of God to make atonement for the sins of Israel. This was an incredibly dangerous place because of the interaction between God’s holiness and man’s sin. The high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies after carrying out an extensive ritual prescribed by God for the purification of his own sins. If anyone just happened to think, “I wonder what’s behind this curtain,” and walk in, they would have died as the presence of God destroyed the sin it came into contact with. The tearing of the veil, however, symbolized the new access that man could have to God because of the death of Christ. Those who repent of their sin and surrender to the lordship of Christ are spared the wrath of God and granted free access to His presence now and eternal life in the future. Christ made peace between God and man possible.
The Advent of Peace
The peace that Christ made possible at His death began at His birth. The arrival of Jesus in little Bethlehem signaled the launch of the final stage of God’s plan of redemption. This Christmas, celebrate the fact that Christ promises peace in the midst of worry and fear to His followers. That is good news. But don’t forget to celebrate the advent of peace between God and man. That is the greatest news. If you are a born-again follower of Christ, you can truly know peace on Earth this Christmas season.