Grace: Peace on earth – 29 November 2022
By Louise Gevers
One of the beautiful things about Advent if we take it seriously is that the focus, each week, ultimately leads us to Jesus, our reason for this season, and as we prepare for the celebration of His birth, on Christmas Day, our understanding of the richness and desirability of the qualities we’re meditating on, which come by His grace, intensifies.
We’re doubly blessed as He enables us to benefit from the bigger picture of God’s perspective, and refining our own, which enables us to come closer to Him, as we set aside time for focusing on each different facet each week.
The verse for today becomes a triumph of grace as Isaiah leads our imagination from a tiny baby in a rough stable, through the ranks of concepts, each increasing in importance – each awe-inspiring in its own right, and worthy of reflection – until it reaches the pinnacle: Prince of Peace. What a declaration of grace and truth!
Jesus is the Prince of Peace because He came to a world that desperately needs Him to reconcile man to God, and man to man, from the most basic family squabbles and discord, to the most complex war that’s raging in the world, threatening to tear countries apart.
Peace is what the world clamours for, but the dictionary definition of ‘tranquillity’, or ‘absence of war’ – though a highly desirable state of being – is not the real peace that Isaiah spoke about. Jesus spoke of something more profound: “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)
Peace is about reconciliation, the drawing together of opposing sides in complete harmony because of a higher motivation; “the restoration of friendly relations”, or ceasefire between warring groups, as happened in No Man’s Land between the German army and the British on Christmas Eve in 1914.
The higher way, glorifying God by celebrating Christmas, and remembering, “on earth peace and goodwill towards men”, (Luke 2:14) took precedence over the war and brought about the most poignant, gracious truce between enemies to the strains of ‘Silent Night’ as soldiers experienced the true blessing of the Prince of Peace.
Soldiers left their trenches, came over the barricades and sang carols together; then they exchanged stories, tobacco and wine; some played soccer; and peace reigned temporarily, until they were ordered back, to once again fight as enemies.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14)
We can only know true peace, “the peace of God which transcends all understanding,” (Philippians 4:7) when Jesus reigns in our hearts.
Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for your peace. May I be, “peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” that I may, “sow in peace” and “reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:17-18) Amen