Isaiah 9:6 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 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
I vividly remember taking part in various Christmas programs when I was a boy. Unfortunately, most of my vivid memories involve things that had nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas. I remember burning through an entire box of Kleenex with one of my worst colds ever. I remember all the fuss about costumes. And I remember singing “We Three Kings” (I was one of the kings) and wondering where in the world the city of Orientar was located (“we three kings from orient are…”).
What really gets me, though, is that whether the program itself was unclear, the director was unclear, I was unclear, or, most likely, some combination of all three, in all my years of Christmas plays I don’t remember anyone ever explaining the actual significance of the Christmas story. I’m glad that is not the case here.
I’m very thankful for David Oman’s directing of this program, his commitment to faithfully telling the story of Jesus’ birth, and his earnest desire for the kids to grasp its meaning and significance and glory. It is an amazing story that needs no embellishment.
What increasingly amazes me is the fact that this familiar story told by our kids is the actual, historical account of the coming of the Messiah of Isaiah 9:6 and 7:14. This simple story is the story of the virgin conceiving and giving birth to a son. Jesus is the child who was born. He is the one through whom God would save his people.
Great job, Dave. Great job, kids!
If you’re a guest this morning, once again, welcome! Thanks for joining us for our children’s Christmas program and worship service. We’re very glad you’re here.
You should know that for the past several weeks we’ve been working our way through the names of Jesus the Messiah given in Isaiah 9:6 and 7:14. Those two passages promise Christmas, describe Jesus, the child of Christmas, explain some of what he would accomplish. That is, those two passages give us reasons sufficient to justify celebrating Christmas with unmatched (I used a thesaurus) exhilaration, elation, animation, enthusiasm, eagerness, anticipation, and feverishness.
Who is the child of Christmas? So far we’ve seen that Jesus, the child whose birth story we just witnessed, is Wonderful Counselor (he always gives only good counsel, died to pay for our sins, and strengthens us to take his wonderful counsel), Mighty God (nothing can stand in his way and he is the eternal second person of the Triune God), and Everlasting Father (he is fatherly in his representation of us, his imaging of the Father, his perfect keeping of commands of God, and his fatherly giving of life—physical and spiritual).
This morning, we’re going to consider the fourth name of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6: Prince of Peace.
In this abbreviated sermon I want to show you the bible’s answers to four questions concerning the peace of the Prince of Peace: 1) If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why is there so much conflict (such a lack of peace) in the world? 2) What does it mean that Jesus is the Prince of Peace? 3) What is the nature of the peace of Jesus? and 4) By what means does Jesus bring his peace? Let’s pray.
APART FROM CHRIST, ALL IS CONFLICT
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but let’s be honest, you don’t need to have lived very long to see that there is a great lack of peace in this world. From brothers and sisters bickering to sickness lingering to debt piling to nations warring, there is no lack of a lack of peace.
But the story of Christmas is the story of the fact that this is not as it was intended, and this is not what life will ultimately be like, thanks to the Prince of Peace. The child whose birth story we just witnessed came to bring limitless peace to mankind, forever.
The first question I want to answer for you all this morning, then, is: if Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why is there so much conflict in the world? The bible’s answer is clear and simple: sin.
Where we find sin, we will find a lack of peace…every time. Sometimes sin brings turmoil immediately and obviously and sometimes it brings it gradually and subtly, but it always brings turmoil.
Immediately upon coming into the world (remember, God’s original creation was good and without sin), sin began driving out peace and driving in turmoil as it produced a deteriorating effect upon all creation (in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes, sickness, disease, etc.).
Romans 8:20-22 the creation was subjected to futility…[and brought under] bondage to decay…[Indeed, because of sin] 22 …the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth…
Immediately upon coming into the world, sin also began driving out peace and driving in turmoil as it produced a deteriorating effect on all mankind (as the particular sins of people harmed other people). Indeed, because of sin, the very first child of man (Cain), killed the second, his own brother (Able). And so we read in James…
James 4:1-2 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not…that your [sinful] passions are at war within you? 2 You desire & do not have, so you murder. You covet & cannot obtain, so you fight & quarrel.
Worse yet, immediately upon coming into the world, sin drove out peace and drove in turmoil as it caused a break in fellowship between God and man. Isaiah himself speaks to this reality.
Isaiah 59:2 …your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
And worst of all, immediately upon coming into the world, sin drove out peace and drove in turmoil as it brought not just broken fellowship between God and man, but death to all mankind since all mankind sinned.
Romans 5:17 because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man…
Grace, this Christmas season, we must remember that, because of the all-consuming effects of sin, if it were not for the coming of the Prince of Peace, all we would know is conflict. Apart from the coming of the child of Isaiah 9 and 7, all is turmoil, all is death. Though not often told, this is the beginning of the Christmas story, and therefore knowing it is absolutely essential for celebrating Christmas appropriately.
JESUS, PRINCE OF PEACE AND CONFLICT
Again, then, if all of this is true, in what way is Jesus Prince of Peace? That is, on the surface at least, Jesus doesn’t sound like a very good prince. If turmoil and struggle and death are in all mankind, has Jesus’ princehood flopped? What are we to make of the angel’s proclamation in Luke 2? Was it a lie?
Luke 2:11-14 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
What does it mean that Jesus is the Prince of Peace in light of all the difficulty and death all around us?
Simply, it means that peace belongs to Jesus; he rules over it. It is his to keep and it is his to give. That Jesus is Price of Peace means that peace cannot exist where he does not bring it. Where he chooses, turmoil and death continue to dominate. And where he chooses it is driven out as far as the East is from the West.
Therefore we read in Matthew…
Matthew 10:34-36 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
And in John, this same Jesus declares…
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…
Jesus is the Prince of Peace in that peace is his to withhold and distribute as he pleases. He is its master. Peace is his servant.
This leaves us with another question, what is the peace of Jesus? What kind of peace does he rule over? What is his peace like? What is the nature of the peace which the Prince of Peace commands?
THE PEACE OF THE PRINCE OF PEACE
The peace of Jesus, the only true peace, is the kind that drives out all disagreement, turmoil, animosity, anger, suffering, angst, difficulty, struggle, and discord. It is the utter lack of conflict of any type. As a fish was not made for dry land, we are not made for these things and the peace of the Prince of Peace casts them all out.
What’s more, however, it’s also the peace of Jesus is the complete presence of joy, rest, tranquility, satisfaction, serenity, contentment. It is the perfect state of harmony. It is a peace that surpasses understanding. It is greater than we ever could imagine. As a fish is made for water, we were made to live in the peace of Jesus.
Greater yet, the peace of the Prince of peace means peace with ourselves, peace with other Christians, peace with the world, and ultimately peace with God.
Concerning the internal peace of Jesus, it is written…
Philippians 4:7… the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Concerning the peace Jesus brings among Christians, it is written…
2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Concerning the peace Jesus brings to the world, it is written…
Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…
And, most importantly, concerning the peace Jesus brings between God and man, it is written…
Romans 5:1 … since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The peace of the Prince of Peace is complete. It leaves no room for turmoil or conflict. Grace, this is what we celebrate when we truly celebrate Christmas…the coming of this peace into a world of death an conflict through the child of Christmas, Jesus Christ, the baby if Isaiah 9 and 7.
But this leaves us with one final question and one more crucial component of true Christmas celebrations: how do we get this peace? How will it come to us? How do we gain access to the peace of Jesus?
THE SOURCE OF THE PEACE OF THE PRINCE OF PEACE
Ultimately, as crazy as it might sound, Jesus brings peace through his blood; that is, through his death on the cross. It is there that the child of Isaiah 9 and 7 (the child of the Christmas story told by our kids this morning) absorbed the wrath of God for the sins of God’s people. It is there that he overcame sin’s curse and defeated death. It is there that he accomplished certain victory for God’s people over sin and the turmoil it causes and the peace it denies. The source of the peace of the Prince of Peace is the cross.
The Christmas baby of life came to accomplish peace for mankind by becoming the Good Friday man of death.
And in order to escape the conflict and death of sin, and to gain access to the peace of the Prince of Peace—to all the benefits he accomplished on the cross—we must simply trusting in Jesus. That is, we must rely wholly on him as our prince. We will never find peace, as so many have believed and have tried, by being good enough. Peace only comes through trusting that the Prince of Peace was good enough.
This is what Peter says in 2 Peter Paul says in Colossians.
2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Colossians 1:19-20 For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
The multiplied peace of Jesus comes to us through receiving and trusting in knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. It comes to us when we receive in faith the good news of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Perhaps the best summary of all of this—of the fact that apart from Jesus all is conflict, of the fact that the peace of Jesus is greater than we could ever imagine, of the fact that Jesus reigns over peace, and of the fact that we gain access to it only through trusting in the cross of Jesus—is found in Ephesians 2.
Ephesians 2:12-16 … you were … separated from Christ, alienated from [God’s pe and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Grace Church, once again, do not miss the fact that all of this is why we celebrate Christmas. This is the good news of Christmas: that Jesus, the Christmas child, is the Prince of Peace of Isaiah, that he brings perfect, everlasting peace, that he accomplished it and showed himself to be its prince through his death and resurrection, and that we gain access to it by grace through faith.
But above all let us not miss the fact that, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:14, Jesus himself is our peace. How many enter this season looking for the gifts apart from the Giver and his peace apart from surrendering to his Prince? Christmas is the good news that Jesus is our blessing and peace is what comes when we receive him in faith. Grace, do not prize the gifts of God above God and do not expect to find his peace apart from him. God is the blessing and he is the peace.
As I’ve tried to help you see week after week, this is all the cause we need for celebrations of the highest order. We do not need to add anything to the person of Jesus to find cause for everlasting joy.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.