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The Fourteenth Day of Advent – December 16

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Ah, peace! Can you think of a word more beautiful, a concept more wonderful than “peace”? Peace is a word you will see a lot on Christmas and Hannukah cards, holiday decorations and even advertisements, as people are hungry for peace. John Lennon even sang a song asking that we ‘imagine’ “all people livin’/life in peace.” I see bumper stickers pleading “Visualize World Peace.” Even a secular, God-denying culture is drawn to a little baby named “Prince of Peace.” We are not unlike the times of the prophet Jeremiah when people bandied about the words “’Peace, peace’, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11).

We know deep down that we want peace more than we want Christmas presents, dream vacations, or greater band width. We want peace with that person we see in the mirror every morning. Peace with those around us. And we want peace with God.

Two thousand years ago, people also longed for peace, but were bombarded with Roman imperial propaganda about Pax Romana, the “Peace of Rome.” Images and coins everywhere hailed Caesar Augustus as “the bringer of world peace”, “son of a god”, “lord” and “savior”. While Augustus’ Pax Romana made for a nice political slogan, it was far from actual reality. Historian Adrian Goldsworthy in his recent book, Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, tells the real story:

“Romans were first and foremost conquerors, imperialists who took by force a vast empire stretching from the Euphrates in the east to the Atlantic coast in the west. Their peace meant Roman victory and was brought about by strength and dominance rather than co-existence with neighbours. The Romans were aggressive and ruthless, and during the creation of their empire millions died or were enslaved.”

(Adrian Goldsworthy, Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World)

Caesar Augustus wielded brute power to orchestrate a worldwide census (Luke 2:1) for the purpose of more taxes, for the purpose of more wars. But he could never orchestrate peace. Augustus’ contemporary, the philosopher Epictetus, noted that Caesar Augustus was “unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.” (Daniel Whedon, Commentary on the Bible)

How wonderfully Luke’s Gospel juxtaposes mighty Caesar Augustus commanding a worldwide census, with little baby Jesus lying in a manger. Pointedly, Luke tells of “a multitude of the heavenly host [stratia] praising God” for bringing “peace on earth”. Luke is driving home his point: the Greek word stratia, translated “host”, meant “army” in Augustus’ Roman world.

Here is the Good News of Christmas: God invades earth through Jesus’ birth to wage all-out war against evil and death. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, coming not to wield a sword but to bear His cross: “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 1:20).

Bible commentator J. Norval Geldenhuys nicely spells out the meaning of Pax Christi, the peace Christ brings:

“It is the work of Christ to bring peace into all human relations. Into man’s relation to God, to himself (his own feelings, desires, and the like), to his life’s circumstances (calamities and trials), and to his fellow-men. According as Christ is honored and given admission to our lives, to that extent the peace on earth, which He came to bring, becomes a glorious reality.”

(J. Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke)

Is it any wonder that heaven’s herald angel cannot contain himself but exclaims: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). And, “all people” includes you! Good news for you!

C. S. Lewis knew of what he spoke: “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity) Peace is more than just a beautiful word and wonderful idea. Peace is the light of the Prince of Peace in a dark world!


Loving Lord, we thirst for You as in a dry and weary land. Yet we often imagine that our thirst is for money, career, fame, and pleasure, not yet understanding that our real thirst is for You. Satisfy us today with Your love, leaving us thirsty for more and more, until we rest in Your eternal joy. By the grace of Christ, our Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.

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