A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but withrighteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of hislips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Isaiah 11:1-10, NRSV
One mother was completely amazed by her child’s awareness of Christmas carols, as she puts it:
I did not realize just how closely my 18-month-old toddler had been listening to Christmas carols until she picked the peas off her plate, threw then on the floor, and said with an excited smile, “Peas on Earth.”
We all know that is not exactly how the song goes! Sometimes we even see a complete disconnect between the peace Jesus came to bring and what we experience between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas day.
Prince of Peace
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, indeed, did come to bring peace. The Isaiah passage quoted above tells how Jesus, the Messiah, would do it. The Messiah would be the opposite of the evil king Ahaz. He would be filled with the Spirit of God, wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Thus, he would rule with righteousness and equity. Those are the qualities that create an environment of peace.
Peace is not necessarily something we do, but a condition that comes about because of the things we do. The peace the Messiah will bring, will come because of his wise, effective rule and his successful dealing with evil and wickedness.
When Jesus returns to bring the new heaven and new earth, we can look forward to peace on earth, as the Book of Revelation puts it:
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22–27, NRSV)
Peace will reign because God will finally be enthroned as the King in this world. As King, his rule will be carried out without hesitation. But what about now?
Filled with the Spirit
Now we are followers of Jesus filled with the Spirit of God and so have access, at least in some measure to the qualities above. As we live out those qualities, we can bring a measure of peace through our attitudes and actions. Of course, this will only happen as people respond to God in their lives, that is what Paul meant when he said, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all," (Romans 12:18, NRSV).
Ultimately peace a gift from God for those who acknowledge and submit to God’s rule in the earth. The degree to which we and those around us yield to God’s reign is the extent to which we will experience God’s peace, at least between now and Jesus second advent.
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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.