“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'” Matthew 1:20
Jesus was conceived into a world that was filled with doubt, distrust, betrayal, skepticism, hopes belayed by fear, shame, and so much more. Here You are, Lord, telling Mary and even Zechariah and Elizabeth that You are sending Your Son and how. And Joseph hears from Mary and doesn’t believe this far-fetched story. So not only was the world filled with those attitudes I mentioned above, but Joseph shows us how full of “tradition” it was too.
The tradition would have been to stone Mary. Now, I was just thinking. Wouldn’t it be blasphemy to call yourself the mother of the Son of God? Just wondering. I mean, if you weren’t the mother of the Son of God? I wonder if she could have been stoned for that? Seems like a lose, lose situation for her.
So this is the kind of world that You, Jesus, were sent into. “Peace be unto you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21) Here I am, thinking about how You were sent into the world and it’s bearing on me and how I am sent into this world. I’ve learned earlier that You were sent to be a sacrifice, therefore, I am sent as a living sacrifice. I’ve learned that You were born into this world in order to become fully man yet still God, therefore, I must be born again to become like You spiritually. And today I see that I am living in the same kind of world that You entered life into. Here I am, sent to a world full of doubt, distrust, betrayal, skepticism, hopes belayed by fear, shame, and so much more, just like You. And I will be effected by those things just as You were. But I also learn that You, Lord, are bigger than those things, and every one of those things must succumb to Your will because You are the one in control.
I am truly sent into a world filled with hurtfull, damaging, sinfull, saddening ideas and traditions that want to hold me and others back from You, the Truth. But listen to this again. “Peace be unto you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you.” Notice what Jesus introduces His sending with. “Peace be unto you.” If He could have peace in the midst of everything that He was born into, in the midst of everything He lived among and in, and amidst the pain and suffering and torment of the cross, then surely there is a peace that He is promising us that is equal to His peace.
Is that true? Do I have peace no matter what is going on around me? Even in the midst of all the trash of the world? Because just by Your words alone, they tell me that You have already given me peace and that it is part and parcel with my sending. This is a package deal.
Now, I want to know. Was Jesus speaking Greek to the disciples when He said this? Because the Greek word for “peace” is “eirene.” It means “prosperity, -one, peace, quietness, rest, set at one again.” And that’s good. But what if I go back to the Hebrew idea of peace? Do I find something more. Because Jesus was Jewish, not Greek. The Jewish word for peace that Jesus would have known and used is “shalom.” Shalom is “the Hebrew equivalent of continuous well-being with God and men.” Oh, but it’s so much more!
The Refiner’s Fire tells us “Hebrew words go beyond their spoken pronunciation. Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent and emotion. Shalom is more then just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.” Strong’s Concordance tells us “Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.” Isaiah 9:6 tells us who this shalom, this peace, comes from. Listen, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom).” (Isaiah 9:6)
So You, Jesus, were sent into this troubled world as, and to be, the Prince of Peace, and not just any peace, but absolute, true, complete, full, whole peace found only in You. And only in You can I obtain and experience this shalom, this true peace. And this is what You are sending me into this troubled world with, to share with others that they might come to know and experience the shalom, the peace that is only found in You.
Now, I am forced to ask myself a question? What is controlling me? Am I controlled by the attitudes of this world? Or am I controlled by Your perfect peace which surrounds me, inhabits me, empowers me, and remains no matter what the world looks like around me? Because I’ve been sent into the world just like You. I’ve been sent into a world that throws worse things than rotten tomatoes at us. And whatever they threw at You, Jesus, I can expect them to throw at me. But You have prepared me and each of Your children for Your sending. You gave us Your shalom, Your peace, straight from You. It’s in us. It’s over us. It’s all around us. It flows from us. And it reaches out to others if only we desperately rely on it. Lord, I want to live in Your shalom. I want to believe and walk in that belief every moment of every day. And when I get caught up in the hurtful stuff, remind me that Your shalom is there to rule my day if only I will let it.
Let me end with Paul’s words from Ephesians 4:1-8, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to me.'” So let us live in the immeasurable gift that God has given each of His children, the peace of Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace. This is reality.