“Waiting for the Prince of Peace!”

Sermon Notes (Sunday December 6th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Waiting for the Prince of Peace!

Isaiah 9:6-7; Ephesians 2:14-18

 

As you know, today is the second Sunday of Advent. This year during Advent we are meditating on the four traditional themes Christians have always emphasized and celebrated during Advent namely, Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. Last Sunday we looked at the hope of Christ’s coming. Israel had waited for so long for the Messiah to come and when He came they could not recognize Him. Their life was revolved around the hope of the Messiah’s coming. The Church today, the body of Christ, the Bride, awaits for the Second Coming of Christ in great power and glory. To sum up what we said last Sunday: Christ Himself is our hope. He is the object of our hope. It really matters where we put our hope.

 

In Advent, we are also reminded to wait for the coming of “Prince of Peace.” In fact, 700 years before Jesus was actually born, Isaiah the prophet described Jesus this way in Isaiah 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” What does it mean that Jesus is “the Prince of Peace”?

 

In a world filled with war and violence, sometimes it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. Friends, the fact there is no peace on earth, the fact hate is so strong and revenge seeking is so common, does not mean the “Prince of Peace” has failed. The cause of distress and turmoil is our own sinfulness. If only we would take God’s Word seriously, if only we would repent, turn from our sin, and believe the gospel, the world would be a very different place. This morning as we think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, I would like to define peace and share a single thought based on Isaiah 9 and Ephesians 2:

 

What is Peace?

What is peace? The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom. Shalom can actually mean a lot of things. It can mean “hello”. It can mean “goodbye”. It can mean “wellbeing”. It can also mean “peace”… but not just peace as in the absence of war. It means that kind of peace that does not really depend on the surroundings. To have shalom is to have a fulfilled life in every way. When you have shalom there is no feeling of harm or hurt. You don’t live in fear. There’s no worry. You know your purpose in life and you have a sense of wholeness and completeness. Everything is exactly the way it should be; nothing is out of order. It’s an inward state of being that is expressed outwardly. This is shalom – this is the kind of peace that Jesus came to bring. This is what the Bible means when we call Jesus the Prince of Peace.

 

In the Greek Roman world, the Greek word eirene that is translated peace in the New Testament means “unity and accord”. It is that sense of harmony and oneness. Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” But the deeper, more foundational Biblical meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”

 

In our sinful state, we were “God’s enemies” as Romans 5:10 says. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says Paul in Romans 5:1. This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.” Any other way to peace but the one that Christ provides is absolutely a fake peace. In Jeremiah 6:14 we read, “They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.”

 

Is it Easy or Peaceful Life?

When we think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, we tend to mix up a peaceful life with an easy life. In the Scriptures, peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. He promised His peace to abide in us when life gets tough. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation and trials. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” No matter what hardships we are faced with, the powerful love and peace of God will sustain us. In John 14:27 Jesus said, “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.” Peace is one of God’s most previous gifts to those who have trusted Him.

 

Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a very faithful Christian and a friend of the famous preacher Dwight L. Moody. At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had. In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much-needed vacation and time to recover from the tragedy. He also went to join Moody and Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that his family’s ship had encountered a collision. All four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.

 

With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. As he sailed across the area were their ship went down and they drowned, he penned those now famous words, When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, It Is Well With My Soul. Friends, this is what the Scriptures call in Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding.” This is the kind of peace that shall keep our hearts, our minds through Christ Jesus.

 

Friends, although peace, it would seem, is hard to come by these days. And that is precisely why we lift it up as a focus for this Second Sunday of Advent. Isaiah reminds us that Jesus is the Prince of peace. The prophet Micah also reminds us in chapter 5:5 that “He will be our peace.” In Ephesians 2:14 Paul said, “For He Himself is our peace.” Do you have the peace of Christ in your life? A man in the hospital was close to death. A minister came to see him and asked, “Have you made your peace with God?” The man answered him, “I didn’t know we had ever quarreled.” If a person is unaware of their need for God it is unlikely that they will want to find God or seek His peace. Advent is God’s way of getting humanity’s attention; and making them fully aware of their need for His peace. The Christmas message was clear, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” says Luke 2:14, “and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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