It sees odd that for years I’ve underestimated one name of Jesus—as Baby or as Messiah—that’s the most striking, most radical, and yet the most necessary: Prince of Peace! I might need to reassess my too-easily overlooked part of Jesus’ work.
In biblical history, what king (or prince) was known primarily as a peacemaker? What I see in the Bible’s kings is exactly the opposite. Those rulers—most of them men—were despots who established and held onto their authority by violence. Not just ordinary violence, either, but cruelties that wiped out their enemies entirely—vengeance with genocide attached. These supposed warriors sometimes seemed to win, at least temporarily.
That’s what makes Jesus’ Christmastide “Prince of Peace” moniker so startling. The prophet Isaiah had the idea that someone could be an authoritative ruler by peaceful means! This was good news to those who heard or read it: A different—better and lasting—way of being king, queen, prince, emperor, president, prime minister or legislator. Governance that built up people instead of destroying them.
That notion—a leader can govern without being vengeful or violent—seems mostly absent from the mindset of too many national leaders today. No matter the horrific outcomes for the people they claim to serve, arrogant and narcissistic potentates trump up reasons to legitimate violence as ultimate power. Thinking and living this way, they disregard the name and example of Jesus.
Considering today’s news, I’m ready to be part of God’s mighty arm, God’s supplanting today’s tin idols with peacemakers—leaders who understand the lasting good that comes from this princely Baby’s redemptive power.
This Savior’s words and example will outlast anyone who tries to rule with an iron fist that incites violence. This name will rule the world for all time:
Prince of Peace!
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