Advent Week 2: Peace
December 08, 2022
Peace in Christ by Dr. David Jones
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33)
Given that Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), we ought not to be surprised that during his first advent, in reference to his gospel message, Christ taught, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33). Indeed, the concept of peace is an undercurrent that runs throughout the New Testament, as the term “peace” occurs over eighty-five times in the Gospels and Epistles. In the New Testament, among other teachings, Christians are reminded that God is the author of peace (see 1 Cor. 14:33), are exhorted to strive for peace (see Rom. 4:19; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:10–11), are commanded to be at peace (see Mark 9:50; 1 Thess. 5:13), are blessed when they endeavor to make peace (see Matt. 5:9), and are taught to live lives characterized by quietness, gentleness, and peace (see Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Tim. 2:2).
The word that is translated “peace” most often in the New Testament is the Greek term eirēnē. Like its more well-known Old Testament counterpart shālōm, the term eirēnē refers to more than just the absence of conflict. Indeed, the word eirēnē describes a state of prosperity and human flourishing. While we ought not to expect such prosperity to be material in nature — although sometimes it is — we can always anticipate spiritual flourishing as we pursue Christ. This practical sense of peace and well-being that believers can experience stems from being at peace with God. This Christmas season we must remember that our peace with God is made possible through Jesus’ substitutionary atonement, which is why Christ taught “in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33).
In Christ, true peace — again, more than just the absence of conflict — is relatively simple for believers to experience, yet it is difficult to maintain. Especially during the hectic holiday season, it is easy to get distracted by a busy schedule, the cares of the world, and the like. If you find yourself anxious and uneasy, the way to regain personal peace is to focus upon Christ and to dwell upon the peace that we have with God because of Jesus’ incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. Note that recovering even a small moment of peace can be helpful, for as James taught, peace oftentimes breeds peace (see Jas. 3:17–18). Since peace bonds Christians together (see Eph. 4:3), when we understand the peace we have in Jesus, we are individually encouraged, the Body of Christ is unified, and the gospel message is authenticated. May God give us peace this Christmas as we remember Jesus’ birth.
Peace, Advent, and Waiting by Dr. Brad Hambrick
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
“Peace” and “advent” are not words we would naturally associate with one another. Advent is about waiting. It is a time when we remember what it was like for the Jewish people to wait on the Messiah as we, the church, wait on Christ’s second coming during turbulent times.
Even Isaiah’s words in this verse carry the same tension. The verb “stayed” implies that our mind is drawn to other focal points. The next clause speaks of “trust,” which implies that the original reader was in a context where trust did not come naturally. The recipient of Isaiah’s message needed to be reminded not to let their mind wander to their fears.
But that is the experience of waiting. Few, if any, of us are optimists when we’re waiting. When we wait for the grade on a test, we fear we have done poorly. When we wait for the response to a job interview, we fear someone else got the job. When we wait on God, our natural tendency is to fear he will not come through this time.
We should appreciate how much human experience is captured in the 17 words of Isaiah 26:3. We realize how much God knows us and how tenderly he speaks to needs of our finite existence. God knows we do not know what he knows, and he is patient. God knows we are mid-story while he knows the whole story, and he invites us to be honest about the distress it causes.
The peace of Isaiah 26:3 is not the answer to all our questions. If that were the case, we would have no peace. The peace of Isaiah 26:3 is in how fully we are known and how loving the one who knows us is. The hope is in the relationship rather than the answer.
Isn’t that what Christmas, the celebration of the incarnation, is all about? If God only wanted to give us answers to our questions, he could have written a letter. But God wanted to restore a relationship, so he came in person.
Sometimes we think the incarnation was only about Jesus living a perfect life and dying in our place. Both of those things are glorious beyond words. But the incarnation was about more than that. The incarnation was also about us being fully known; about us being able to pray with full confidence about everything we experience and know “God gets me” (Heb. 2:17-18, 4:14-16). That is what our mind can be “stayed on” that will settle our soul to “trust in” God as we wait.
In light of this, I invite you to use your imagination as you pray. When you pray, visualize the face of God as he listens. See his attentive eyes, observe the sympathetic compassion on his face, and see that he is track perfectly with both the words you say and the emotions you feel as you pray (Rom. 8:26-27). That is the gift that Christmas brought us.
Peace That Passes Understanding by Dr. Chuck Lawless
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
Some years ago, I purchased a set of “worry beads” as a souvenir while traveling in Greece. I had no intentions of using them as many Greeks did—twisting them in their hands to release stress—but I know why that souvenir caught my attention. Were it not for God’s work in my life, I would too often let worry consume me. I sometimes find myself anxious and sleepless, and I have to run back to the Word of God to remember again the peace God gives.
Philippians 4:6-7 is one of the texts that give me hope and comfort in times of worry. Paul commanded the Philippians not to be anxious about anything, but instead to take their every request to God in a spirit of thanksgiving. To state the point more concisely, to pray about everything is to worry about nothing.
Prayer is a cry for help to the God who reigns over all, who loves us as his children, and who accomplishes his plan in our lives. We approach him in gratitude, ever thankful for his mercy and his care. We gratefully find in his presence all we need for peace. Prayer thus turns our heart to God, and thanksgiving focuses us on his blessings rather than our wants. To whom else should we go when we worry?
God in turn then gives us peace—a restfulness in our spirit no matter what we face—that “surpasses all understanding.” Scholars differ in interpreting this phrase, but it likely means this peace is far beyond our comprehension. God, who is himself the origin of this peace, grants it to us, and we live in it even when we cannot fully understand it. Indeed, we cannot fully explain the peace we have ourselves, nor can we adequately explain it when we see it in others.
I think of many believers I’ve pastored over the years when I read this text. For example, I think about the grandmother who rested in her confidence in God even after her grandson died in an automobile accident. Or the sister in Christ whose gentleness in spirit and trust in God never wavered as her body succumbed to cancer. Or the faithful layperson who lived with joy and gratitude even when he spent many months unemployed while his family’s bills piled up. I have been privileged to walk with these believers as they modeled supernatural peace—a peace that comes only from God, and a peace I cannot wrap my mind around. It truly is beyond our comprehension.
Moreover, that peace is not only a God-blessed reality, but it is also a God-given guard against further worry. In God’s peace, we stand against doubt, anxiety, apprehension, despair, and fear. Indeed, the image of “guarding hearts and minds” in verse 7 brings to mind a military sentinel who stands ever ready to repel any unwelcome invader. Worry simply has no place where the God of peace (Phil. 4:9) has already granted peace.
Peace from the Prince of Peace by Dr. Adrianne Miles
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” – John 14:27
Even as we remember that Jesus put on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and look forward to his return, social and political strife during advent season can work to rob us of the peace of God’s promises and provision. We can forget Jesus’s promise: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Troubled and fearful hearts are easier to find today than peaceful hearts. Can the God of John 14 really provide peace for the twenty-first century? Yes, he is the “Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). During advent, it is incumbent upon Christians to remember not only that Jesus is the Savior of the World but that he is the Prince of Peace.
The peace of the triune God has been available to his people since the beginning. The life of Joseph, told in Genesis 37-50, is a testimony to this peace in times of social and political turmoil. Social strife — driven by jealousy, favoritism, and insecurity—led Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. Joseph was hated by his own brothers, became a slave in a foreign culture with no power to improve his situation, and was segregated from other Egyptians because of Egyptian prejudice against Hebrews, even after being granted the second highest position in the government. Family divisions, socio-economic divisions, ethnic, and political divisions permeated the life of Joseph, yet time and again, the biblical witness explains that “the Lord was with Joseph” (Gen. 39:2, cf. Gen. 39:21, 41:38, 45:8, 50:19-21). Joseph’s life is not marked by anxiety but by the supernatural peace that comes from complete trust in a good and omnipotent God.
Joseph’s world, though four millennia removed from ours, bears striking similarities to the twenty-first century. The divisiveness of our day affects familial, social, ethnic, and political relationships. Joseph’s life story is a gift to us to teach us that we can trust God despite familial strife, political unrest, and social, ethnic, and, by extension, racial divisions. What others may intend for harm, God will use for good through the lives of those who trust him (Gen. 50:20). God used Joseph to rescue his family and many nations from widespread famine and to wisely rule the Egyptians (who would not even eat with Hebrews).
Joseph possessed the peace of the Lord, and God used him to share that peace with others. The same peace available to Joseph was promised to us by the Prince of Peace in John 14:27. During this advent season, embrace the peace of the Lord and, like Joseph, share it with those around you, with family and friends, and with people on the other side of the aisle and the other side of the tracks. Do not give as the world gives; “do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Prayer by Christy Thornton
We praise you as the God who has come near to us by sending your Son, and that he has brought us near to you, making peace by the blood of his cross.
We confess that we neglect to remember your nearness. We wander away, distracted by the toil of our lives. We hide from your presence in guilt and shame. We are easily overcome with worry and distress.
Thank you because you are not heartless to our worries, or ungracious in our pain, but in sending your Son, you became like us in every way, sympathizing with us in our weakness, that you might lead us in the love, and peace of your eternal life. Because you are gracious, your nearness is our good. Thank you for being near, Lord.
We pray, even now, that you would send your Spirit to lead us into your rest. That your peace would be our bedrock in times of uncertainty. That others might look at the calm of our hearts and desire Christ, in whom we rest.
We pray these things in faith in the name of the Lord Jesus,