It is interesting that, after consulting a number of resources, I discovered that there is little agreement on the correct order of the Advent topics (and candles) to be considered during this time. I have shared on the topics of Hope and Joy, and this week I will address Peace. I guess this is my order, because I would like to make the fourth week about Love. Finally, my last Advent post will be about Glory, which was seen visibly in the tiny babe in the manger.
The Old Testament has plenty to say about peace, especially in view of the battles, struggles and oppression which were experienced by the nation of Israel over centuries and centuries. In the Hebrew language, “peace” is usually translated as “shalom,” which is one of my favorite Hebrew words. It is a big, “fat” word, which implies many more things than just the absence of war. Yes, it can imply “rest, ease and security,” which is valued by people everywhere at all times. Yet, in addition, it means “completeness, wholeness, unity, accord,” which adds to its richness. The false and self-centered prophets in Israel promised “‘peace, peace,’ they say, ‘when there is no peace’” (Jer 4:14). “Because we have sinned against the Lord,” God’s prophet said, “we hoped for peace but no good has come; for a time of healing but there is only terror” (Jer 8:15). So many years later, does this prophecy about peace ring true for our culture today, too?
In fact, God’s promise of peace came to earth in “wrapped in cloths, and placed in a manger” (Lk 2:7). Jesus did not bring peace, like a conquering hero, he is the expected peace, which is why we prepare for his coming at the Advent season. In John 14, Jesus tells his closest followers about the advent (coming) of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (14:26), which came after Jesus’ death and resurrection, to fill and empower his followers. The Spirit will “teach and remind” Jesus’ people; and, he is the gift of peace (14:26-27). Jesus’ peace is not like the peace expected by the world; no, Jesus’ peace is internal, not external. There is a peace inside of a Christian that the world does not understand. Because of the Holy Spirit, we do not need to “be afraid”! (14:27). This is a picture of the Trinity: God sent his Son to bring peace to the earth (Lk 2:14; Isa 9:6); and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to be peace, within those who believe.
In addition, Jesus pledged peace to his followers after his resurrection – his kind of peace. We remember the passion events before Jesus’ death, including the betrayals of Judas and Peter, the terror of the crucifixion and the fear in his disciples. Suddenly, when he appeared before them physically, Jesus offered the confused disciples peace – peace, well-being, in spite of all their fears and failures! Maybe they were expecting rebuke and reprimand for their behavior. But in Jesus’ presence, they were filled with “joy”! (Jn 20:19-20).
“Peace be with you” was a familiar, common Hebrew greeting, well-known to the disciples (20:19, 21, 26). However, Jesus did a very uncommon thing: he showed his disciples his “hands and side” to authenticate his resurrection. “Stop doubting and believe!” he said (20:27). They must have been breathless! They did not expect that the peace of Jesus was forgiveness – forgiveness of all their sins and weaknesses, all their doubts and disloyalty (20:23). Finally, Jesus “left” his peace with them in the form of the empowering Holy Spirit (20:22), knowing that his followers would need God’s help to carry out the difficult missions ahead of them, after his departure.
The same is true for us, today. Only Jesus is true peace. If we remain in him (Jn 15:5, 7), the peace of God lives within us, and his Spirit will never leave us. We are forgiven and given the gift of his Spirit, which guides us into all peace. May you be breathless this season of hope, joy, peace, and love.
One thought on “My Peace I give to you….”
What a fun timely moment to receive this! I had been praying all morning for my daughter to experience peace as she was signing her contract for the air force. She called crying this morning saying she didn’t think she could do it. The Lord gave me some words of encouragement and so the prayers began! We are now 6 hours in and she has passed her final physical, signed her contract, and was sworn in…with a smile might I add. I treasure peace. The song I put on this morning was Peace be Still by Hope Darst. I love the words when she says, “Let faith rise up!” I texted my daughter and told her to let her faith rise up, look fear in the face and tell it to sit down! I cherish peace! Thank you for your words today my dear friend. I love you beyond words!