2015-12-20 Jesus, Our Prince of Piece

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          December 20, 2015

“Jesus, Our Prince of Peace”

Text: Isaiah 9:6-7

We come to our fourth and final sermon in our series on the appellations, or names, attached prophetically to Jesus in today’s text.  I pray you have perceived and treasured Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor, your Mighty God, and your Everlasting Father in these weeks.  Now we come to the final appellation given to Jesus in this text, namely, Prince of Peace, and now is a good time for us to dwell on this.

We see political and military conflict all over the world.  We see terrorist attacks perpetrated both at home and abroad.  We see differences of opinion and practice between nations—and the differences are not always polite.  In this season, when the angelic host cries, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace—good will to men,” (Luke 2:14) we see precious little peace and good will between the nations of earth.

We see, closer to home, deep fissures in our national fabric.  Deep differences yet exist politically, racially, and geographically.  Some of these will be exploited and exacerbated during the upcoming election cycle.  True, we the people may call a brief, tenuous truce during the Christmas season, but, come January, we well may see more and wider cracks before they close and heal.

Some of us—and doubtless many in our culture on this Sunday before Christmas—must endure relational estrangement.  There is no peace in certain marriages, or in certain families, or in certain workplaces—or, alas, in certain local churches.  Certain relationships have ended in lives this year, sometimes explosively, and those parties in those calamities must both live with and process their pain just now—and that is no easy task.

Above all of this, some—yea, many, even many among those who wear Christ’s Name—deal today with the internal anxieties that seem endemic to life in this world.  Money worries, health worries, relational worries, job worries, and circumstantial worries of various kinds dog many of us.  Even at Christmas we cannot seem to become immune entirely from these.

If you find yourself afflicted along at least one of the aforementioned lines, then I have great news from God’s Word for you today.  Jesus is our Prince of Peace, Who increasingly brings peace to bear in our lives and in His world.  Let’s hear from our Lord as He speaks to us in His Word.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Notice first in today’s text the first half of Jesus’ appellation here—Prince.  The word prince suggests rule and sphere of rule.  Jesus’ sphere of rule—the extent of His reign, if you will—is everywhere.  He rules in Heaven, He rules the earth, and His sovereignty even extends to that place reserved for the devil and his host.  We confess this truth when we sing, as often we do in this season, “He rules the world with truth and grace….”  Furthermore, never forget that oft-recalled quote from Abraham Kuyper, Dutch Reformed theologian and statesman, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, Who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

Yet there is a real sense in which Christ’s reign has not come to the full.  This case is exactly as Scripture teaches.  The reign of Christ is already, to be sure—and we noted this fact just earlier—but the reign of Christ, in its fullest extent, is also not yet.  In days to come—and soon, as God defines soon—the reign of Jesus Christ will come to the full.  Then there will be no more sin, or sorrow, or dying, or crying.  There will no longer be hurt or harm anywhere on His holy mountain (Isaiah 11:9).  We long for that day—and we cry out with the Apostle Paul, “Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22).  Until that day, we rejoice in the present-day reign of Jesus and look forward to His full reign in days to come.

Now let’s note the rest of Jesus’ appellation: Prince of Peace.  First, Jesus Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).  This stands logically prior to the peace that He brings and gives.  In other words, peace is not merely something that Jesus does for us, but peace is actually Who He is.  Consequently, should we look for true, lasting peace elsewhere than in the Person of Jesus Christ, we look in vain.  That peace for which our souls long is found in Jesus—and in Him alone.

Second, Jesus, in His atoning work on the Cross, gained for us peace with our Heavenly Father (Romans 5:1).  We are no longer rebels against our holy and sovereign God.  God does not stand at judicial enmity against us on the basis of our original and actual sin.  All the separation between God and man is bridged in Jesus Christ, the God-man—Who, being our peace, makes peace for us on the Cross.  Now we have not only the absence of hostility between us and God, but we also now have glorious peaceful fellowship with Him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Third, because Jesus, Who is both God incarnate and our peace, has gained for us peace with God, we can have peace within ourselves.  Consider God’s welcome word to us through the Apostle Paul, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).  This is the cure for care.  Present everything—especially every troubling thing—to God in prayer.  Let thanksgiving occupy a leading place in your prayer.  Then watch God go to work in your life: both to give you His matchless peace and to alter your circumstance—often most favorably.

Fourth, because Jesus, Who is both God incarnate and our peace, has gained for us peace with God, we can have peace with others.  God calls us, as much at it lies in us, to live at peace with all people (Romans 12:18).  We can do this, because—as Augustine said in his Confessions—He gives what He commands.  It is true, alas, that we cannot make folk live peaceably with us, but it is also true that He can work within us to give us a peaceable disposition toward others.  Often, if He does not bring the party at enmity with us to full reconciliation with us, then at least He causes them not to act in ways overtly hostile toward us.  This is as Scripture declares, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).  In any case, may the Lord give us more peaceable relations with our fellow human beings.  May He turn a number of our foes into friends, and may He deepen our affections for those already close to us.

This time of year, just before Christmas, often brings still, starry nights—and we wonder if, on such a peaceable night as often we see in these parts this time of year, our Savior entered our world at Bethlehem’s manger.  There was much turmoil at the turn of the ages, to be sure, despite any outward tranquility, and there is much disquiet in our time too.  Yet the Prince of Peace has come—He Who was, and is, and evermore shall be—and this changes everything decisively.  May you know peace in your soul and in your relationships this Christmas.  May our nation truly know Christ’s peace by turning to Him once again in repentance and faith.  May nations truly know peace, as Billy Graham noted, by knowing Him Who is the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ.

AMEN.

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