“You will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace…” (Isaiah 55:12 NIV)
In 1846, John Sammis wrote a hymn that has become cherished and sung by Christians for generations. “When we walk with the Lord In the light oh His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way! Let us do His good will; He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Adam walked with God in the Garden, but sin caused a breach in that relationship. Man was cut off; separated from Life. But God turned it all around when He sent His Son to close the breach, and reconcile us back to God through His death on the Cross. The Gospel can be summed up in a single phrase: “The War is Over!”
Few headlines in any language ever mean so much as that one. In a word, that was the message the Angel brought to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. “Glory to God in the highest,” they sang. “And on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14 KJV)
Jesus Himself bore witness to this time and time again. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). And on another occasion, ““These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
And then there was that wondrous moment in the Upper Room, after His resurrection, when He appeared and twice said, “Peace be unto you” (see John 20:19-22). Why do you suppose He said it twice on this occasion? I believe the answer is found in the writings of Paul. Notice carefully his choice of words in these two scriptures:
- Romans 5:1 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace WITH God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
- Colossians 3:15 – “And let the peace OF God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
The Peace WITH God means the War is Over, and this was the first thing Jesus said after the Resurrection – “Peace be unto you.” His death and resurrection ended the war, and reconciled us to God. We have been brought into a relationship WITH God.
The Peace OF God means that we can now live a life that is above the common, empowered by the Holy Spirit for service to God and to others. This is why Jesus said “Peace be unto you” the second time, and then breathed upon them and they received the Holy Spirit. Because we have peace with God in our restored relationship to the Father, we therefore may have the peace of God as we interact with one another in this fallen world.
We will discuss this a bit further in tomorrow’s post….you don’t want to miss it!