We have looked together, so far, at two of the major elements of Jesus’ life on earth: his miracles and his teaching. Even though these dominate the accounts of him in the 4 Gospels, they are by no means the only aspects of who he was and what he did. We turn now to one of the more difficult elements of who Jesus was – his peacefulness.
Jesus spoke a lot about peace. He indicated the importance of peace with others – thus we are to be reconciled to our brothers and sisters before bringing offerings before God (Matthew 5:23-24), are to turn the other cheek when struck (5:39), and we are to be peacemakers, who will be called sons of God (5:9). His followers also emphasised the importance of being at peace with others – see Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14, and 2 Corinthians 13:11.
(Matthew 22:23-33), the Romans (challenging their imperial might, see Mark 10:42), the scribes (also called teachers of the law, see e.g.Mark 7:1-13). And ultimately, these groups of people hated him so much they crucified him (Mark 15:1). Even beyond these confrontations, Jesus didn’t always behave in ways that we might consider ‘peaceful’ – the best examples are him cursing the fig tree and overturning the tables in the temple (Mark 11:12-17).
So, what can we take from all of this? Was Jesus a man of peace, or not? I think the hint here is in really looking at who Jesus was against and when. He didn’t always have a problem with Pharisees –see John 19:39-40, Luke 7:36-50, and Luke 13:31. Instead, Jesus stood up and spoke when he saw injustice. He endorsed the Pharisees’ teaching but warned against their practices (Matthew 23:1-2). He saw the way that the hypocrisy of the Pharisees led others astray or created burdens that were much too heavy to carry. He objected to the ways that the Pharisees had turned God’s good, refreshing laws (such as the Sabbath – Mark 2:23-3:5) into joyless rituals. He had a serious problem with anything that pushed people away from right relationship with God, and he stood up and did something about it.
Peace is not the same thing as quietness. It is not submission. It is not meekness. Peace is a right relationship, with God first and foremost, and then with others. Which means standing up against practices that drive people away from God, or under heavy burdens, or into needless conflict. I think this is why Jesus can talk about leaving his peace with us (John 14:27) and yet say that he came not to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34-36). Because, sometimes, chasing after peace with God can bring us into conflict with people, and that’s ok. We are called to live in peace with others (Romans 14:19), but to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
When Jesus walked this earth, he sought to restore people to a good relationship with God, through the cross and resurrection but also through his teaching on how to live in God’s kingdom. A good relationship with God, harmonizes our relationships with others, this is what peace really means.
PRAY: God will strengthen your relationship with Him as you seek the Prince of Peace and to live as He would.
SONG: The Peace of Christ – by Tommy Walker Ministries – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN9bEkGe6ss