Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
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.
Luke 23:38-43 (NIV)
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Hebrews 10:5-10 (NIV)
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.”He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
This Advent we have taken a look at the promise of the Messiah given to us in Isaiah 9:6 that Jesus will be a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. In this series, we have considered what each of those names mean and how Jesus was the embodiment of them, both in the time he spent on earth and even today in how he works in our lives.
This week, we are looking at how Jesus fulfilled the promise of being the Prince of Peace. We learn that our fairytale versions of princes can cloud the real message behind the promise of a “Prince of Peace”. Isaiah’s prophesying of a baby who would be the Prince of Peace was meant to convey the message that Jesus would be the one responsible for a permanent contentment, yet so much of our definition of peace is wrapped up in our present circumstances. This week we learn that true peace has a much longer perspective than our current situation, and, as the Prince of Peace, Jesus desires to teach us a new way of peace, focusing on our lives with him and the permanent peace that he brings. This peace can only be found at the foot of the cross, so we’ll skip ahead in the story to the final moments of Jesus’ time here on earth and discover that it is there that the mission the tiny baby was sent here to accomplish is completed. This week is a heavier look at the Advent story, but is so necessary in understanding the weight of the promises made to us in Isaiah. At the cross we find the Prince of Peace.
Zach begins his sermon with the statement, “Peace is elusive.” For many, 2016 has been a rough year, with peace feeling elusive, or maybe even temporarily lost, to us. Where do you find peace most often, especially during this Advent season? Where do you seek peace in a world that can sometimes seem to be void of it?
We learn this week that Isaiah’s prophecy of a Messiah who would be the Prince of Peace meant something different to the people of Israel. To them it meant a Messiah would be born who would be a commander of permanent peace, someone who would take on the responsibility of providing contentment. But if, from our present-day perspective, peace is elusive and circumstantial, what do we do with the truth that Jesus brings a new peace, in spite of our current circumstances? How does this new definition make you feel? Where do you need to ask Jesus to become the Prince of Peace in your life?
Read Isaiah 53:5. Zach reminds us that “without the cross, the cradle offers no real comfort.” Without the hard truth of the crucifixion, the Christmas story is lacking. What insights about Advent do you glean by reading this passage in Isaiah 53?
We see two thieves hanging next to Jesus on the cross. One says he will believe that Jesus is the Messiah if Jesus will rescue him from his present circumstance. The other thief recognizes that he is hanging next to the one who can provide him everlasting peace in spite of his present circumstances. Which one do you relate to most right now when asking for peace in your life?
This Advent series has been one in which we’ve acknowledged the pain that can sometimes be awakened in our lives, or in the lives of those we love, during the Christmas season. In learning that Jesus’ role as Prince of Peace means a shift in thinking from our present circumstances to remembering the great work that was done on the cross, where does that leave you in wrestling with the pain?
The thief on the cross who ultimately chose to see Jesus as the Prince of Peace was promised to be with Jesus that day in paradise. We learn this week that the significance of that promise was not about being in paradise, but rather being with Jesus. Jesus has been with us this year. He is with us this Advent season. He is with us and providing his peace all the time. Does that change the way that you look for his peace in your life? Are you asking him to be with you as you move through this Advent season and as we draw closer to the day we have been anticipating all month?
We learn this week that Jesus is our permanent advocate to our Heavenly Father. He proves this to us when he asks the Father for forgiveness on our behalf while our sins are in the middle of nailing him to the cross. Jesus always sees and assumes the best in us. How can we live that out in our relationships and interactions with others? Christmas is a time when emotions run high and schedules are packed to the max. How can we slow down and evoke the peace and advocacy of our Savior during the hustle and bustle of this season?
The peace that was promised to us by Isaiah is made real by the events of Calvary. When we seek peace we only have to look as far as the cross. Zach poses a great question this week: Have you let Jesus take responsibility of peace in your life? If so, spend a few minutes asking God to show you where he is working his peace into your life. And if not, allow God to speak to your heart what is holding you back from experiencing his way of peace.
This Advent we have learned and wrestled with four of the unique roles Jesus was promised to fulfill in our lives. We learned that in his role as a Wonderful Counselor, Jesus desires to help us see things as they really are and then practice empathy in our interactions with a fallen world. We learned that, as a Mighty God, Jesus cannot be defeated by any storm, and even when we feel lost in our own storms, Jesus has not left us on a sinking ship. Our Everlasting Father is always ready to teach us a better way to be Jesus to our world and he teaches us with love and compassion, rather than with shame or frustration. And this week we have learned a new definition of the peace that Jesus was promised to bring to our lives. Which of these roles do you hunger for the most in your life right now? Is there one name that you desperately desire to see at work in your life? Spend some time this week preparing your heart for our time together on Christmas Eve. Ask God to show you how he is fulfilling each of these roles in your life right now. And join us in celebrating the birth of our Savior!