Peace implies the end or absence of conflict. There can be no peace where there is conflict. But to end conflict, requires reconciliation. Where there has been conflict, peace has been made possible only through reconciliation. That is, by bringing the warring parties together and taking away the war and the enmity in their hearts.
Conflict was introduced originally by sin into the universe. First, the sin of Satan the fallen angel. Rebellion lies at the heart of sin. Satan, Lucifer, rebelled against God and continues to do so today.
Then the sin of humanity. There is conflict between God and people as well as between people.
Conflict between people is seen in war, disharmony, strife and everywhere in humans. E.g. in families, in nations, etc.
To have peace we must have reconciliation.
Reconciliation was achieved by God once and for all, through the death of Jesus on the cross.
Apart from the reconciliation that had been provided by the death of Jesus, there is no other way to peace.
Listen to the prophet Isaiah foretelling the coming and death of Jesus,
‘But he (Messiah Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed.’ (Is. 53:5)
The phrase, ‘the punishment that brought us peace was upon him’ speaks of Jesus paying the penalty for our crimes. Our sins. Jesus took the punishment that was due to us. Now, God’s divine justice was satisfied, and the way was made open for us to enter peace. Peace with God.
The purpose of Jesus’ death was reconciliation (meditate in 2Cor. 5:17-21). God through reconciliation, made peace.
The Vertical Beam of the Cross represents God’s relationship to us – God made peace with man.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, [a]we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)
Once we had been acquitted of our guilt through the death of Jesus, we have peace with God.
Reconciliation had been achieved with God. And that brings peace. God is no longer mad with us. Instead, through Christ, God loves us with an everlasting love!
The Horizontal Beam of the Cross represents the relationship between man and man – peace between people.
Listen to the apostle Paul,
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14-16, NIV)
Note the phrases, ‘has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ and then ‘reconcile both of them to God through the cross’. By His death Jesus broke down the barrier between man and man, between people. So, peace here is on the horizontal plain – between one person and another person.
Jesus through His death on the cross removed the barriers that divided and separated God and humans, and between people.
Because of this, humanity can never know true peace except through Jesus’ cross.
How ca we know the fruit of God’s peace? There are two keys. A. God’s government. B. Hearing and Obeying God’s voice.
A. God’s government‘Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end’ (Isaiah 9:7a, NKJV)
Note the relationship between God’s government and peace. That’s the order – God’s government first, and then peace. Only those who are under God’s government, God’s ruling, God’s reign, can know His peace. Those who reject God’s government, never know God’s peace.
Jesus brought God’s government / kingdom on earth 2,000 years ago. Accepting Jesus’ payment for your sins through His death on the cross makes you an agent / subject of God’s kingdom.
B. Hearing and Obeying God’s voice
God reminded His people of what they could have had if they walked in obedience,
“If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” (Is. 48:18, NIV)
What’s the key to peace like a river? Paying attention to God’s commands, listening to what He says, and then doing it.
You hear God’s voice by ‘wanting’ to hear God’s voice. Reading the bible, praying, praising, worshipping, giving thanks to God are essential to hearing God’s voice.
Here is Jesus’ definition of a true disciple,
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27, NKJV). What are the two things that mark out a true disciple or follower of Jesus:
1. Hearing His voice
2. Following Him
To His true disciples Jesus says this,
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NKJV)
Note, the world’s peace depends on circumstances, situations, the weather, financial market, even covid-19, etc. God’s peace depends on the God who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Heb. 13:8)
The two keys or requirements for God’s peace are:
Jesus said to His followers, to you and me, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.