Merry Christmas! Welcome today to all of you. I pray that you are very, very, very blessed in this Christmas time. If you have your Bible, open it up to the book of Isaiah, in the Old Testament, Isaiah chapter 9. If you don’t, we’ll have the Scripture up on the wall. We’re going to look at some names given for Jesus, proclaimed long before he came.
Now names can be very interesting as you consider their origins and meanings. Those of you who’ve had children, you know the whole naming process can be very difficult. Dana and I have done it six times and we ran out of our favorites I think with the first two, so we started turning to the Bible for names that we liked, names that had meaning, and you know it seemed as if there really are no rules for naming your children.
I wonder how many of you remember the rock legend from the 60s and 70s Frank Zappa? Anybody? Now Zappa took naming children up another level. His first daughter was named Moon Unit, the second Diva Muffin, and then his sons Dweezil and Ahmet. Zappa’s wife Gail explained these names, saying that they all have special meaning within the family. She said that Dweezil was a pet name that Zappa gave him, while Ahmet was the title of an imaginary Butler, and Diva was given her name because she was a noisy baby. As far as Moon Unit’s name Gail explained that Zappa said, “You can name it Moon or Motorhead.” And Gail said she chose Moon and the middle name Unit because it was their daughter Moon who made them a family unit.
You know, I think that if we’re truthful, there are some naming rules that are unspoken, that no one really tells you about, but are really just common sense. Like, if you or your spouse ever dated someone with a certain name, just out of respect for your spouse that name is off-limits. If your parents knew someone that had a name that they didn’t like, thought was weird, or whatever, that name is off-limits too. The whole naming thing can take a lot of effort, especially when you realize that names have meanings.
What I want to do today is read some names given for Jesus, names given by the Holy Spirit, and spoken through the prophet Isaiah. But what I want to do is to focus on one of those names, because I feel as if in this day and age, just like at this time 700 years before the birth of Christ, we’re in a period of time when there’s a whole lot of turmoil, a lot of fear and confusion. You know, really a whole lot like it was back then and maybe even more so in some places around the world today.
Here we are, Christmas morning 2016, in Emmitsburg Maryland, and this time of year is amazing, but it can also be kind of chaotic. There can be a lot of anxiety, and a lot of people are really stressed out financially, because they’re spending and spending and yet they know that the bill is coming in January. You can feel it, even as the kids are unwrapping the presents, because you know you’ve got to pay for it, and so there’s the tension, the anxiety, and then for some of us we’ve got to deal with the family issues, and so life can be challenging at this time of year. It’s crazy, because there’s so much to do, so much to get done, and instead of being a peaceful time for so many people, it’s just a time of anxiety. You know, you’ve got to get the gifts, get them wrapped, put them under the tree, get the house cleaned up, get the decorations done, get the food made, get everybody to mom’s house, and it’s just chaotic. And so sometimes, you just have to wonder, where is the peace in Christmas?
Well today, I want to share with you from Isaiah chapter 9:6, a prophetic verse given some 700 years before the birth of Christ, when Jesus was called four specific names, but one of those is so very applicable to where many of us find ourselves today. Here’s what the Bible says:
“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, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And I pray that after all the preparations, all the chaos, the stress, and the anxiety, that during this time together in worship, that you experience the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of you may have gone to a Christmas Eve service last night and if you did, you probably sang Christmas Carols and heard God’s word announcing the coming of Jesus. There was probably a peaceful feeling you left with, but doesn’t it really makes you wonder why you didn’t have that same sense of peace the rest of the year?
You know, when the angel came and spoke to the shepherds in the field, as the angel announced the good news of Jesus birth, the Bible tells us in Luke chapter 2, verse 13,
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:13-14).
Peace on earth, because Jesus is the Prince of peace, but as I reflect on the birth of Christ, what I sense is that there wasn’t much peace there that night. You know, maybe like your house last night or the night before. And here we have this little teenage girl named Mary who is nine months pregnant, she’s traveled all this way on a donkey, and as they enter the town they discover that there’s no place to stay. You can just imagine the tension, she’s stressing out because she’s going to have this baby even if it’s in the back seat of a donkey. This baby is coming, there isn’t any peace, no place to stay, until finally Joseph finds some guy who let them stay in his barn.
I don’t think it’s nearly as peaceful as what so many images give the illusion of. My mother’s manger scene in our living room has this sense of serenity and holiness. But I wonder, with the animals, the smell of manure, all the barn stuff, and this little girl, nine months pregnant, now giving birth, and there’s no epidural. You could say, if there is no epidural there’s no peace, right?
And so anyway, Jesus is born and King Herod hears about it. Now he’s feeling threatened and so he’s freaking out, because he has heard the prophecies. So now the king says, “Let’s just find this baby and kill him. And while you’re at it, just kill all the baby boys under the age of two.
The Prince of peace is born, and all of a sudden innocent baby boys are being slaughtered, and if you’re following along with me, here’s what I’m thinking, “Where is the peace? This doesn’t make sense!”
Let’s fast forward to today and so many people are stressed out, they don’t have peace, and it’s not just in the world, but it’s in the church too. I mean, even Christian marriages you’d think would reflect the character of the one who is the union of that marriage, and yet studies show that as many Christian marriages end up in divorce as non-Christian marriages. You look at people financially and most people are making more money than they ever have. Most of us are making more than a vast majority of the world, and yet there’s more financial pressure than ever before. Where’s the peace in that? You turn on the news and there’s car bombings, school shootings, countries at war, and it’s a bit difficult to reconcile. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, what happened?
You know, two weeks ago, I talked about how our God can do anything? Just last week, I submitted an article to the Emmitsburg News Journal for the New Year’s January edition entitled “Nothing is impossible with God.” And yet, here I am wondering where is the peace, when all of a sudden, a Scripture came to mind in Matthew chapter 10, where Jesus said:
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
And it was at that moment that I realized that it depends on how you define peace. And what I’ve found is that many times because of the difficulties of translating the text from the original Hebrew language to our American language that we find our understanding clouded. It really comes down to understanding what or who Jesus is. We read that he’s called the Prince of Peace, and I always thought that, like a tranquilizer, his peace would be the thing that would remove my anxiety and calm me when I’m disturbed. But as we study who the Prince of Peace is, we find that he so much more than that. I think theologically our understanding is a little twisted.
I looked up this phrase in the New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. You know, it’s the book of biblical interpretation for dummies, because they give you a number for every word that you can’t read, say, or even spell. And so anyway, I looked up Prince of Peace, #8269 and #7965 and it was transliterated from the original Hebrew,
Jesus was called the Prince of Peace and so I want to share with you what those words mean. “Sar” means a head person, in other words, someone in charge, like a captain, chief, general, governor, lord, taskmaster, ruler, or steward. Jesus is “Sar”, like Julius Caesar. He’s the one in charge, he is Lord, the “Sar Shalom’.’” But what does “shalom” mean?
Again, referring to Strong’s Greek-Hebrew dictionary, it is defined as “safe, well, happy, friendly, or in an abstract sense, welfare, health, prosperity, or peace.” This word “Shalom” is actually a greeting that one person would give to another. And in that culture, it means completeness, wholeness, tranquility, and rest. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. You could say that he is the captain of rest. He is the Lord of tranquility. He is the chief of contentment. And so as long as we are under Christ, under his Lordship, living by his Spirit, we can have his peace. That’s a fruit of his Spirit, right? “Love, joy, and what? Peace!” But that doesn’t mean that we can do anything we want and still have his peace.
You know, it’s not like a guy can get doped up or drunk Saturday night and then go to church and have peace, because he’s doing something outside of the Lordship of the Prince of peace.
Can a person charge up all their credit cards, spending more money than they make, and then expect to have financial peace? No! Because there outside of the will of the One who is the Prince of Peace.
Can you get into a fight with your neighbor, embarrassing your kids, and expect to have the peace of God? Again, the answer is no, because you’re doing something outside of the leadership of Sar Shalom.
It’s only as we’re under the Lordship of Jesus that we can experience his peace. And the amazing thing is, that when we’re under the Lordship of Christ, he can give us a peace which goes beyond our understanding. But when you step outside of his will and his plan for your life you may not experience his peace. You know, he may remove his peace when you’ve drifted away, when you forgotten him, when you’ve rebelled against him, but when you’re under him you can experience his peace. And that’s why you want to be under the Prince of Peace. He is the Lord, the Chief of Shalom!
This morning, Christmas Sunday, what does that mean in our everyday lives?
Well first, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the One who comforts you. He is the peace who comforts you. He wants to bring you comfort. That’s what he said in John chapter 14, Jesus said,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…” Now I want you to notice whose peace he wants to give you. Say it aloud, “My peace I give you.” It’s not your peace, it’s his peace, and he says, “I don’t give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (vs 27).
It’s Jesus who gives you peace. It’s his peace, and he’s the one who is in charge of peace. The Lord Jesus gives you his peace. We want to be under Jesus, under the rule of the Prince of Peace, so that he gives us his peace.
Now maybe some of you might wonder, “What if I don’t have his peace?” And maybe, if you don’t have his peace, you may be a believer in Jesus, but you’re still trying to do it yourself, you’re still trying to solve it on your own, you’re still trying to cope with life outside of the rule, the covering, and the care of the Prince of Peace. What do you do? Well the Scripture is very clear. Philippians chapter 4 tells us,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When we don’t have peace, when we’re outside the will of God, and we’re trying to cope on our own, we simply need to step back under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We take our requests, by prayer and petition, and we present them to God. We tell him, “I can’t do this, please take it, I want to trust you with it, I want you to be in charge, so that I can have your peace.” And you see, at that moment, when there’s that point of surrender, it’s just like there’s a relief, a deep exhale from the soul, a letting go, and the peace that goes beyond our ability to understand. Because God is enough. The presence of God at that moment is all we need. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is the peace that comforts you.
The second thing is that, Jesus is our peace, who saves you.
In Luke chapter 2:11, the angel proclaimed, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” He is our Peace. He is our Savior. The Bible says it this way in Romans 5:1,
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now notice, it doesn’t say that we’ve been justified by our good behavior or by being religious, but we have peace with God through our Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ. But maybe this morning you’re still sitting there thinking and wondering why you don’t have peace with God. Maybe today, you don’t feel that peace and just maybe it’s because the one who gives us peace has pulled back, so that he can draw you to himself, so that you would seek him and find him when you seek him with all your heart. You see, your spouse may not be ready to forgive you; neither may your boss, or your children, or your parents, or your friend, or even your enemies, but God has forgiven you completely.
The Bible tells us in Romans 5:6…
“At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
The ungodly, that’s you and I, we all fall into that category, we’re the ones he died for. We’re the ones who fall short of his standard of righteousness, because if God judged us based on his commands, if we were judged on our obedience to the 10 Commandments, we’d all be found guilty. And yet the Bible tells us in Romans chapter 5, verse 8,
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
You see, God forgives us in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve it. In fact, even before we’d considered asking for forgiveness, before we felt even a hint of remorse, he’d already died for our sins. When we wonder why there’s an absence of peace, it’s not because God hasn’t done everything to reconcile us and give us his peace, it’s because we’ve become distracted, maybe we’ve drifted off, or we’ve lost our passion for Jesus, the only one who can give us real lasting peace. That’s why Christmas is so incredibly important. The Bible tells us in John chapter 3…
"God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
Jesus came to bring us salvation. The name Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, means “the Lord saves”… and that’s why Jesus came into the world. He was born of a virgin, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that he didn’t inherit a sin nature from an earthly father as the Bible tells us in Hebrews chapter 4,
“We have one (a great high priest, a mediator between God and man) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus, our Prince of Peace, didn’t have this sin nature so that he could effectively be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, becoming the innocent Lamb of God who was slain for our sins on the cross. Jesus said it this way in Luke chapter 19,
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10).
Our Sar Shalom came so that we could have peace with God. He gave his life and was raised again, so that we, even in our sin, could come to know him. He served us so that we would honor him as Lord, as our Commander in Chief, and he would give us his peace. It’s his peace, not our peace; we can’t earn our way to be right with God. It’s only as we come under his authority and receive what he has done for us that we can know peace. It’s simply a matter of faith saying, “Jesus, I believe that you are enough.”
The Bible says this in Ephesians chapter 2,
“Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:13-14).
Christ himself is our peace! And outside of our Prince of Peace we have no hope, but in him we have the peace of God which transcends all understanding. Isaiah says this in verse seven,
“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).
Today, if you’re wondering where your peace is, come under his rule, under Christ’s government, that’s what he wants for his people, that’s what he wants for his church, and that’s what he wants you to be about. Whatever direction your life may take, whatever career path you may choose, and whatever city or whatever state you choose to make your home, he wants your life to come under his rule and his peace. The Bible makes it clear that this is what the Christian life is really about. The Prince of Peace came to establish his kingdom on earth. But the Son of God didn’t come to reign over a political kingdom. He came to reign in the hearts of his people. And when the Prince of Peace begins to reign, his people build their lives on a foundation of righteousness, they do the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t the easiest thing to do.
And so today, this Christmas, Jesus wants you to put your life under new management, under his government, and that means you can say goodbye to the stress, the darkness, and the gloom of the past. You can forget the tyranny of failure and the oppression of shame as you let the Son begin to reign in your life today. As we close in prayer I challenge you to embrace the everyday peace that Jesus Christ came to give. It’s time to surrender fully and completely, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Let the Son begin to reign in your heart and your life.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
December 25, 2016
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Preaching Library, and PC Study Bible.
Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.