Five days until Christmas (as I write this), and the to-do list is getting longer rather than shorter. This happens every year. I have grand schemes of all the things I’ll bake, all the gifts I’ll make by hand, and the traditions on which we’ll follow-through. And every year, I do less than the year before. “Lacking” had become the theme of my Christmas. With my sense of lacking comes discontent: all the thoughts of how I should be better, how we should be doing more God-ish stuff and less simply surviving, how I should be making better memories for my children than rushing to finish the laundry so we can pack for trips to the grandparents. There’s little we can call “peaceful” in these days. (Although a teenager who likes to wrap presents does help.)
When the people of Judah lost their king to the Babylonian conquerors, they also lost their queen, along with all the princes and princesses. There were no literal princes in their courts, and no peace in their hearts. I imagine shalom, that ubiquitous Hebrew word for peace which means far more than “absence of war,” felt foreign to those trudging, defeated masses making their way toward Babylon.
Maybe Isaiah’s prophecy felt like mockery: an unfulfilled promise now unfulfill-able. But it wasn’t unfulfill-able. It was simply not yet time.
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. –Isaiah 9:6
Jesus is our Prince of Peace.
- one who rules as a representative of his parent, the king or queen
- a leader in training
- one born to privilege and accustomed to decision-making.
Those are just my personal definitions.
When a prince’s dominion is peace, it means he rules over peace, planting peace in his father’s kingdom. He oversees peace and distributes it according to his will.
When we trust someone to
rule our lives, we let go
of stress and worry.
When that peace is God’s peace (Philippians 4:9), it means the Prince is bringing God’s will, a sense of His sovereignty, and the contentment that comes from trust to everyone He touches. Isaiah was saying that the reign of Jesus “will bring wholeness and well-being to individuals and to society” (NIV Study Bible notes for Isaiah 9:6). When we trust someone to rule our lives, we let go of stress and worry, leaving all our problems in that person’s hands. Then contentment comes easily. We no longer perceive our lives as lacking.
Jesus exercised His princely duties in the distribution of peace.
I think of the many times Jesus said, “Go in peace.” There was, for example, the sinful woman in the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:50) and the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:48. We talked about her last week.) Who can assign peace except one who rules it?
I think of Jesus’ encouragement to His disciples as He looked toward leaving them. It’s one of my favorite verses.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. –John 14:27
Jesus plants peace
How is it that He doesn’t give as the world gives? Because He has all authority over peace, and He plants it inside us rather than simply changing outward circumstances.
I also think of that classic tale, The Prince and the Pauper: Jesus, our prince, took the place of a pauper, to provide our peace.
Isaiah perhaps had this throne name in mind a few chapters later when he described the effect of Jesus’ reign on creation:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. –Isaiah 11:6, 9b
in all its violence,
produces our peace.
At Christmas, we see a prince laying in a manger, destined for rejection, ridicule, and—too soon—a violent death so that the earth could have peace beyond understanding. His death produces our peace. When we trust Him, His crucifixion procures our eternal contentment.
Jesus is our Prince of Peace, and he came to distribute God’s peace on all who trust Him. Last in the series on Isaiah 9:6. My #contentment this #Christmas is #NotAboutMe via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)
How’s your stress level this Christmas season? Does it help to imagine yourself accepting the peace of God from the Prince of Peace? It does for me. Leave me a comment below to let me know what you’re thinking.