Articles, Essays & Sermons

Prince of Peace: The birth of Jesus and the purposes of God

A collection of texts

by Ken Sehested

No single word, in any language, can capture the meaning of the incarnation—of the birth of Jesus and the larger redemptive purposes of God. But of all the words used in Scripture to indicate the purposes of God and the mission of Jesus, “peace” is surely among the most prominent. What follows is a collection of relevant texts.

§ “For every boot of the trampling warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For unto us a child is born . . . and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:5-7

§ “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace . . . who publishes salvation." Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15

§ In a song of thanksgiving at John’s birth, Zechariah—father of “the Baptizer”—prophesied that his son would “go before the Lord to prepare his ways” and would “guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76, 79

§ Angels announcing Jesus’ birth to shepherds burst into song: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14

§ Mary, announcing her participation in God’s purposes, illustrated the character of God’s peace: scattering of the proud, pulling down the mighty from their thrones, exalting those of low degree, sending the rich away empty-handed, filling the hungry with good things. Luke 1:46-55

§ During the infant Jesus’ ritual presentation at the temple, Simeon, who was “righteous and devout” before God, confirmed God’s purpose in this birth: “Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace . . . for my eyes have seen thy salvation.” Luke 2:29-30

§ At his baptism, a dove—since Noah, the symbol of peace—descended on Jesus, accompanied by a voice from heaven declaring him “beloved.” Luke 3:22

§ The Gospels record numerous stories of Jesus’ encounters with women. In his encounter with the woman suffering “a flow of blood for twelve years,” Jesus blessed her, saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:34

§ And to the “woman of the city, a sinner,” who anointed him with oil, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

§ Instructing his disciples, Jesus said: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house. . . . Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” Luke 10:5, 8-9

•§ In his most famous collection of teachings, Jesus declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

§ In weeping over the fate of Jerusalem, Jesus mourned: “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!” Luke 19:42

§ In his teaching of the disciples during the “last supper,” Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. . . . I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 14:27; 16:33

§ In one of his resurrection appearances, Jesus greeted his followers with the promise of peace and the commission of forgiveness: “‘Peace be with you. As the Abba has sent me, even so send I you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” John 20:21-23

§ Peter preached the “good news of peace by Jesus Christ.” Acts 10:36

§ Almost all the New Testament Epistles are introduced with: “Grace to you and peace. . . .” • The “feet” of the unrighteous “are swift to shed blood . . . and the way of peace they do not know.” Romans 3:15, 17 • “For the kingdom of God is . . . righteousness and peace and joy.” Romans 14:17 • “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.” Romans 15:13 • “The God of peace be with you.” Romans 15:33; Philippians 4:9 • “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 • “For [Christ] is our peace . . . and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.” Ephesians 2:14 • “Put on the whole armor of God . . . having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6: 11, 15 • “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. . . . And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:13, 15 • “May the God of peace sanctify you wholly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 • “Strive for peace with all, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14 • “And the harvest of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:18 • “. . . seek peace, and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11

©ken sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org