Prince of Peace

  • Prince of Peace
  • Isaiah 9:6
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • December 24, 2017
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12-24-17 sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

  • How many of you have been finished with your Christmas shopping for some time now?
  • How many of you finished with your shopping today? Raise your hands.
  • How many of you are re-gifting a present this year? Moment of honesty here.
  • How many of you before you got out of the car tonight said, “Remember as far as anyone else knows we’re a normal family”?

 

I’m curious.  How many of you have something in your life that you wish was different? I know, for a lot of people, this is the best time of the year, and for others, this is a very heavy time of the year.

 

For example, one of our custodians here at LakeRidge, Randy, was recently involved in a car wreck, suffered a stroke as a result and is now in a rehab center trying to regain full control of the right side of his body.  Our whole staff has been concerned about Randy. I can assure you that a few weeks ago this wasn’t what he was planning on for Christmas.

 

A lot of you are facing things like that, maybe not as dramatic, maybe even more dramatic. I know that during this time of year it can just be crazy.  Crazy with the schedules.  Got to get everything done.  Got to go, go, go, go.  Got to get all the presents.  Got to get them wrapped.  Got to get them under the tree.  Got to get the house cleaned up.  Got to get the decorations done.  Got to get all the meals made.  Got to get everybody to grandma’s house. It can just be chaotic.  Instead of being a peaceful time, for so many people, it’s a time full of anxiety.

 

I know financially, a lot of people are just stressed out.  You’re spending and spending and spending and January is coming, and so are the bills.  You feel it.  The kids are unwrapping the presents.  You’re saying, “Ooooh, we’ve got to pay for all of this.  Ohhh.”  Tension, anxiety.

 

Some of you have family issues.  You go to see your family.  It’s supposed to be a Merry Christmas.  It looks more like a very special episode of a Judge Judy Christmas with one side arguing with another.  You know, you’re thinking, “Errrrrrr,” and it can be challenging.  Where is the peace in Christmas?

 

Isaiah 9:6 is a prophetic verse given some 700 years before the birth of Christ, when Jesus was called four specific names.  Tonight, we’ll look at the last of those names, “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, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”.

 

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.  I hope that during this time together that you experience the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Growing up, I know that sometimes when were at my grandparents’ house in Elk City, Oklahoma, for Christmas we would go to a Midnight Christmas Eve worship service. For that one hour everyone would feel that spiritual peace.  There was something about it.

 

We’d sing the well-known Christmas carols, and I would settle on the inside and we might hear a message about the baby Jesus.  Spiritually, that would be calming, and we would celebrate communion together as a family.  Or we’d lift the candles up in the air and sing Silent Night, and there was something settling about that.

 

For those few moments it was an incredibly peaceful time. Maybe you’ve felt that way when you gather with friends and family on Christmas Eve, but maybe you’ve also wondered where is Jesus, the Prince of Peace the rest of the year?

 

In Luke 2:10-14, we find an angel of the Lord speaking to the shepherds in the field, and this is what the angel said,  “… Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

 

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, but I’ve got to tell you that when He is born I don’t envision a very peaceful image. It just doesn’t seem peaceful.

 

A little teenage girl named Mary finds out she’s pregnant, and she’s pregnant by God.  That’s tough to explain to people.  “God got me pregnant.”  “Oh, yeah?  Good.  Congratulations.”  The very beginning of that just is not peaceful.

 

Then, you travel through her journey, and at some point, she’s nine months pregnant and they decide they’ve got to travel across country on a donkey.  Nine months pregnant on a donkey.  Nothing peaceful about that.  Okay?

 

I took Joni two different times to the hospital. Once in a Mercury Sable and once in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It wasn’t pleasant for her. We’re talking pregnant and on a donkey.

 

They pull into town and you know she’s freaking out.  “Get me a place to stay.  I’m about to have this baby.” Joseph pulls into every hotel, and everything’s booked up.  No Courtyard by Marriott, no Motel 6, no flea bag place, nothing, and Mary says, “Find me a place now!”

 

Finally, Joseph negotiates a deal with some guy and says, “Man, there’s not a room in town, but you can stay in the barn.”  “So we can have the baby in a barn?  That’s what I always pictured, with animals, and animal poop, and barn stuff. Perfect,”

 

Here you’ve got this little girl, nine months pregnant, traveled all this time on a donkey, in a barn.  She gives birth, and there is no epidural.  Can you say, “No epidural, no peace.” Okay?  Jesus is born.

 

The Prince of Peace enters planet earth.  King Herod gets threatened.  He’s freaking out.  “I’ve heard rumors about this.  There’s been prophecies. Is this guy going to try to overthrow me?”  The king says, “Let’s just kill this baby.  Just to make sure, find any baby under the age of two, that’s a male, and kill them as well.”  The Prince of Peace is born, and all of a sudden all of these innocent baby boys are being murdered. This is tough to reconcile.  This doesn’t seem to make sense.

 

Fast forward to today, and I see people who just don’t have peace.  At our church, believers who are just stressed out all of the time.  No peace.  Just anxiety.  Tension.  I see Christian marriages, and think, “Okay.  He knows Jesus.  She knows Jesus.  They should have a peaceful marriage.”   Yet, studies show that just as many Christian marriages end up in divorce as non-Christian marriages.  Some studies say that even more.  Where’s the Prince of Peace in that?

 

I look at people financially, and most people I know make far more money today than they ever have in their whole lives; and yet, there’s more financial pressure than they’ve ever had.  Where’s the peace in that?

 

I look at the relational tension.  People just can’t get along.  A few years ago my family was out Christmas shopping when a couple of men got in a fight over the parking place my family and I pulled out of. Mall security had to come and break it up. Where is the peace in that?

 

So, who is Jesus?  Among many other names, Jesus was called the Prince of Peace.  In Hebrew it’s the word “Sar Shalome”.  Let’s talk about those words.

 

“Sar” means the one who was in charge.  It means the captain.  It means the Lord.  It means the chief.  It means the general.  The Romans, they use this word “Sar”, and it became Caesar, like Julius Caesar.  It was the one that was in charge.  Jesus is the captain, the chief, the Lord, the Sar of Shalome.

 

What does “Shalome” mean?  “Shalome” was actually a greeting that one person would give to another.  “Shalome” means rest.  It means tranquility.  It means wholeness.  It means completeness.

 

Jesus is the “Sar Shalome”.  You could say He’s the Captain of rest.  He is the Lord of tranquility.  He is the Chief of contentment.  Jesus is the “Sar Shalome”.  As long as we are under Christ, we can have His peace.

 

Does that mean that we can do anything we want and still have peace?  Of course not. Can a couple get in a big hairy fight and go ballistic and call each other names, and then all of a sudden expect to have the peace of God?  Well, of course not.  Why?  Because they are outside of the “Sar Shalome”.

 

Can a person charge up all their credit cards and spend more money than they make, and then just expect to have a peace?  No, they are outside of the will of the “Sar Shalome”.

 

It’s only when we are under the lordship of the “Sar”, the One who is in charge, that we experience His peace.  Jesus is the “Sar Shalome”, the Prince of Peace.

 

The amazing thing is, when we are under the lordship of Christ, He gives us a peace that most people don’t understand.  When your private world is falling apart, Jesus can give inward peace that goes beyond human understanding.

 

So what does that mean in our everyday life?

 

Two thoughts.  First of all, Jesus, the “Sar Shalome”, He is the peace who comforts you.  Some of you right now, have some things in your life that are just going haywire, and there is no inward spiritual peace.

 

Understand that Jesus, wants to bring you comfort.  Here is what Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

 

I think back to when Joni and I were first time parents. This was before it was mandated that insurance companies had to allow forty-eight hours after the birth before you were discharged. So, twenty-four hours after Joni had given birth we made our way home.

Things were not like we had envisioned. The baby was jaundiced. Joni’s tailbone was broken in the delivery. We were both stressed out. Nursing was not going well. Everyone was sleep deprived. We’d never been parents before and when our baby daughter would begin to cry it all just felt so overwhelming.

 

Then Charlotte Hunter came over to our house. She was a member of our church who just happened to be an R.N., the mother of four children and grandmother of eleven. She was the most calming presence for us. Just having Charlotte there giving us guidance and talking us through our anxieties, telling us that it would be okay, brought peace into our home. She brought peace to us that we were not going to find or experience on our own.

 

For me, what Charlotte did for us is a great image of what Jesus wants to do for us as the Prince of Peace. When we are under Jesus, the Prince of Peace, He gives us a peace.  It’s not our peace.  It’s His peace.  If we are out here, we don’t have the access as much to His peace as when we are close to Him.

 

Some of you might say, “What if I don’t have His peace?”  Well, maybe you’re trying to do it yourself.  You’re trying to have the energy for it.  You’re trying to figure it out.  You’re trying to solve it on your own.  You are trying to do and cope with life outside of the Prince of Peace.

 

What do we do?  Scripture is very, very clear.  Philippians 4:6-7 says this. “6Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

 

Many of you right now are anxious about everything, period.  What do we do?  When we are outside, trying to cope on our own, and we don’t have peace, we simply step under the lordship of Christ, and then we take our requests and we present them to Him and say, “I can’t do this.  It’s no longer mine.  I trust You with it. Because You’re in charge. Lord, I need your peace.”

 

I’m not telling you that you’ll never cry any tears again. But I would tell you that in life’s difficult and challenging moments, often when it feels like things are as low as they can go, that God is able to do some of his best work as he comes to us as “Sar Shalome”. His peace comes and comforts us. If your life feels anxious and stressful my prayer for you is that God’s peace would come to you even now as we are here together this Christmas Eve.

 

Second thing, is that Jesus is also the peace who saves you.  He is the peace who brings salvation.  Look at what Scripture says.  Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

 

Notice, Scripture doesn’t say we’ve been made right by our good works or religious efforts. The reason we have peace with God is because of Jesus.

 

Some of you may say, “But I don’t really know if I have peace with God.  I don’t feel peace.  Why might that be?”  Because perhaps, the One who can give us peace and take it away has strategically removed peace from you to draw you toward Himself.

 

Maybe you feel guilty? Nothing sucks the peace out of your life quicker than when we feel guilty over something that we have done. Scripture tells us in Romans 3:23,“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” In other words, we are all guilty.

 

So we wonder why there is an absence of peace.  Because we’re outside of the only One who can bring His real spiritual peace.  That’s why Christmas is so important.  “For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, Jesus.”

 

You see, we are bent toward sin.  We are sinners by birth.  You never have to sit down a kid and say, “Guess what?  Today I am going to teach you how to sin.  We’re going to have sin lessons.  Okay?  What I want you to do is sin.  Be selfish.  You know, hit your sister.”  We don’t have to teach that.

 

But Jesus did not have this sin nature. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins on a cross; He could give His life, be raised again, so that we could be underneath Him, the One who is in charge, who gives peace.  It’s not our peace.  It’s His peace.  We can’t earn our way to be right with God.  It’s only because we are under what Jesus did for us.

 

Some of you, right now, are here wondering why you don’t have peace with God, and so you’re trying to be a good person; but you’re wondering have you been good enough.

 

You’re trying not to be a bad person.  You wonder, “Why am I still bent toward these bad things?”  It’s because you cannot work your way there.  You simply take a step of faith.  “I believe, Jesus, that You are enough.”

 

Here is what His Scripture says in Ephesians 2:13-14, “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 14For Christ himself has brought peace to us…”