From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Eight, Day Two
Who hasn't longed for peace, living in a world that is so often full of strife? The Hebrew word for peace, however, means much more than the absence of conflict or the end of turmoil. Shalom conveys not only a sense of tranquility but also of wholeness and completion. To enjoy shalom is to enjoy health, satisfaction, success, safety, well-being, and prosperity. Though the New Testament does not directly call Jesus the Prince of Peace, this title from Isaiah has traditionally been associated with him as the One who brings peace to the world. Furthermore, Paul assured the Ephesian Christians saying of Jesus, "He himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). When you pray to Sar Shalom, you are praying to the One who is the source of all peace. To live in peace is to live in his presence.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Praying the Name
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord...
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." John 20:19 - 20, 26 - 27
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3:12-15
Praise God: Who is the source of all peace.
Offer Thanks: To Christ our peace.
Confess: Any failure to forgive.
Ask God: To help you live in peace with others.
In my church it is customary midway through the service to turn to your neighbor and offer "a sign of peace" — usually a handshake and the greeting: "Peace be with you." One Sunday morning, a lively little girl altered the formula slightly. With pigtails bobbing and pink cheeks shining, she grabbed my hand, intoning loudly and sincerely: "PEACE AND QUIET BE WITH YOU!" As the mother of two small children, I couldn't help but find her greeting attractive, expressing as it does the wish of every parent.
Not that I want to meddle with the traditional phrase, "Peace be with you," which comes straight from the Bible and is still the typical greeting in modern Israel. Like the Jews of Jesus' day, modern Israelis often greet each other with the words Shalom aleikhem [sha-LOME a-LAY-khem]! The Gospels record Jesus using this ordinary greeting but under extraordinary circumstances. Shalom aleikhem! "Peace upon you!" were the first words he spoke to startled disciples, cowering behind locked doors after his crucifixion. Instead of rebuking them for abandoning and betraying him when he was arrested, he blessed them with shalom. A week later he invited Thomas, the doubting disciple, to touch his wounds, to probe the separated flesh in his hands and side so that he too could believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Indeed, it is the wounds of Christ that bring us peace. This may sound like poetry until you begin to picture just how hideous the crucifixion was. A naked man nailed to a set of crossbeams and then slowly tortured to death in full view of the public. Jesus hung on the cross for three hours, making himself the target of God's wrath against all the pettiness, self-righteousness, bickering, meanness, anger, gossip, gluttony, greed, jealousy, lies, drunkenness, child abuse, infidelity, lust, rape, murder, and destruction that we humans have wreaked upon the world. The cross was our punishment, the payback for our sins. But Christ, loving us and being unwilling to let us suffer a punishment we could not survive, transformed an instrument of torture into one of victory. Through it he both upheld God's justice and healed our relationship with a holy God.
No matter what we have done, how agitated or frantic we feel, or how chaotic life has become, Christ says to us today: Shalom aleikhem! "Peace upon you." Peace be with you in your relationship with God, with others, and with yourself. May his peace settle into your soul and rule in your heart. May it become the loom on which your life is woven, clothing you with his compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Repent of what you have done wrong. Forgive as you have been forgiven. And let the one who is called the Prince of Peace rule in your heart.