Prince of Peace
The night I gave my life to Jesus, when I was fifteen years old, I was kneeling alone in my bedroom beside my bed. I had just attended a special service for youth at my church and heard the Gospel proclaimed by an evangelist named Billy Springfield. I resisted going forward and making a public commitment to Christ at church that night, but the Holy Spirit was working on my heart through the message. I wanted what Springfield was talking about. I wanted a personal relationship with Jesus.
I did not pray a fancy prayer. I did not use King James English or liturgical words. Best I can remember, I prayed something like this: "God, I want what that man was talking about tonight. I want Jesus to come into my heart. Please forgive my sins and make my life what you want it to be."
The Prince of Peace came into my bedroom and into my life that night. I remember being flooded with a sense of peace I had never known before. Somehow I just knew my sin was forgiven, and Jesus was living in me. My life would never be the same.
"For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV)
This is why Jesus was born. He was born to reconcile to Himself all things. He was born to make peace with God through His sacrifice on the cross. He came into this world as one of us to make redemption for all of us. He died to pay the price for sin. If I were to die as payment for my own sin, it wouldn't be enough. His sacrifice on my behalf is perfect because He is the Son of God and He never sinned. He didn't have to pay for His own sin on the cross, so He could pay for all sin. Jesus came to make peace.
I have leaned into the peace of God at many times since that night in 1967 when I said yes to Jesus. When we couldn't conceive children, the peace of God sustained us through gut-wrenching times to our adopting twins. When Shirley had a spot show up on a mammogram the peace of Christ kept us from falling apart until she went to have a needle biopsy and the doctor told me, "The spot is simply gone." When I have doubts about being enough of a leader to be an effective Pastor, it is Jesus who whispers, "Peace, my child. You are mine and you are doing what I called you to do."
Life is filled with doubt and anxiety and division and accusation and war. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Isaiah was right: "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, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
Wednesday is Christmas day. We celebrate the birth of our Savior. We celebrate the incarnation of God into flesh and blood. Chris Tomlin said it so well in "Jesus Messiah":
He became sin, who knew no sin That we might become His righteousness He humbled himself and carried the cross Love so amazing, love so amazing
Jesus Messiah, name above all names Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven Jesus Messiah, Lord of all
As you celebrate Christmas this week, I pray you do so with peace. Whatever storm crashes in your life, I pray the Prince of Peace speaks words of comfort and hope in the midst of it. What I found kneeling by my bed one night in 1967 is still true. My peace is in Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed Christmas.