Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve: Peace Like a River

Today is Christmas Eve, but it is also the fourth Sunday of Advent. Today we light the candle of Jesus as our Prince of Peace.

When children are little, we often introduce them to a simple Sunday School chorus with hand motions: “I’ve got peace like a river.” This truth comes from passages like Isaiah 66:12 in which God promises His people,

“For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.”

This is a promise that suggests an abundant and free-flowing peace, as well as peace resembling the nurturing comfort of a parent.

But if you look at a river, it rarely ever demonstrates the calmness we equate with peace. Instead, a river rushes head-strong over rocks and logs, waterfalls and anything in its path. It is relentless. It finds a way. It keeps on going.

In John 16, Jesus is talking to His disciples about how their grief will turn to joy. He finishes the chapter in verse 33 by saying,
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Peace and overcoming. At first a contradiction of words. But they get at Jesus’ definition of peace.

As the Prince of Peace, the peace Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection unveiled a turning point in history. Much like a river that divides and shifts; ebbs and flows, Jesus inaugurated a peace marked by change and healing. Like Aslan the Lion in the Chronicles of Narnia, Jesus the Prince of Peace is “on the move.” At His birth, all the characters in the story were moving towards Him. But when the time came for Him to begin His earthly work, Jesus distinctly stepped towards the ones He chose as followers.

When John the Baptist baptized his cousin Jesus in the Jordan river, he was doing more than preparing Jesus for His earthly ministry. Standing in the historic river that bridged the gap between captivity and return, John was showing the world that “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was the One who stood eternally between exile and promise, between sin and redemption.

Born as a baby, the Prince of Peace shed His heavenly garments for swaddling clothes. He traded a divine throne for a rough-hewn feeding trough. Fully God, yet fully man, Jesus came to both show and make a way. In this world there will be suffering, there will be obstacles and challenges of every type, but take heart, His peace is as strong and wide as a rushing river that knows no bounds.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.