Advent: Peace (Isaiah 7 & 9)

True and lasting peace is only possible through Jesus Christ. All other attempts to find peace are profitless. This is because true and lasting peace is only possible through forgiveness and only Jesus offers forgiveness. We continue to fight one another because we refuse to forgive one another. 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied about Him. He called Him Immanuel (God with us) and said of Him: “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” (Isaiah 9:6). In today’s sermon we shall consider how Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, brings peace into our lives.

  1. Peace with God. First, Jesus brings peace with God. Romans 1:18 says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Through Jesus, God forgives us (Eph 1:7) “by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” (Col 2:14). We are not only forgiven, we are reconciled to God and justified. Being justified, we now have peace with God (Rom 5:1). Christ’s death was a substitutionary death on behalf of His people. Christ’s death was a means to propitiate the wrath of God (satisfying the wrath of God and bringing peace) and expiate our sin (remove the sin and guilt of His people).
    This means that, for Christians, God never has one shred of wrath or enmity towards us. God sees us as “in Christ”. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Being reconciled to God through Christ, we are saved (Rom 5:10). Augustine of Hippo wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
  1. Peace with Myself. Second, Jesus brings peace with yourself. For many people, their biggest critics are themselves. Through Jesus, God humbles us by cleansing us of our pride. Pride manifests itself in two distinct ways: 1) Thinking too highly of ourselves and 2) Thinking too lowly of ourselves. When we think too highly of ourselves, we believe we are great and we demand that others see how great we are. If we receive praise we celebrate, but if we do not receive praise, we get upset.
    When we think too lowly of ourselves, we believe we are being treated unfairly and we wish others would have pity on us. If we receive pity, we are satisfied, but if we do not receive pity, we get upset. Both of these are manifestations of pride because they both come as a result of an unhealthy fixation on oneself. Jesus frees us from both forms of pride by helping us to humbly stop thinking of ourselves so much. This is the key to having peace with yourself. C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
    True humility is looking at yourself through God’s eyes. You are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10) created in His image (Gen 1:26). God’s love for you is great and His answer to our lack of peace is to turn our attention to Him and on others. The acronym J.O.Y. is helpful as we remember to think of Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself next.
  1. Peace with My Neighbor. Third, Jesus brings peace with your neighbor. Because of sin it is impossible to live at peace with everyone; but, with Jesus, you can have peace even in the midst of conflict. Jesus said the greatest command was to love God (Matt 22:37) and the second is to love your neighbor (Matt 22:39). In response, a man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus replied with the parable of the Good Samaritan in order to show that the proper question is not “Who is worthy to be my neighbor?” but “Who is in need of mercy?”
    Through Jesus, we can have peace with our neighbor because we love our neighbor. In this life, we encounter two types of neighbors: friends and enemies. With our friends it is easy to have peace because we receive peace in return. With our enemies it is difficult to have peace because we do not receive peace in return. How do we respond then to our enemies? Our response to both types of neighbors are the same. We are to be a neighbor to all and to help them in their time of need (Rom 12:20). The key to living at peace with your neighbor is to always strive to live at peace with your neighbor (Rom 12:18). Through Jesus, we can have peace in our hearts even when we do not have peace with our neighbor.

Are you tired of fighting? Are you sick of having bitterness and resentment towards God? Yourself? Others? Remember, true and lasting peace is only possible through Jesus Christ because only Jesus brings the key to peace: forgiveness. When you are forgiven by God, you are able to forgive yourself and forgive others. If you are not a Christian, admit that you are sinner and repent of your sin. Believe that Jesus is God’s Son who died to bring forgiveness for your sin. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Be freed from the bondage of sin and find true and lasting peace.