The Kingdom of Peace
Isaiah 65: 17-25 and Luke 19: 37-44
There is a very short and simple hymn with a challenge that has been too big for many people to embrace. It simply says: “peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord,” with a reminder, incase you missed it, “peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ out Lord. Thus, says the Lord, will the world know my friends.”
I am sure I have given what I thought was the perfect gift at birthday’s or Christmas only for it to be put on a shelf, in a drawer or in a wardrobe and never used or worn. I might even be guilty of receiving a gift with all the appropriate smiling appreciation knowing that I didn’t really want it.
I did hear of someone who was at a jumble sale when they saw the ‘perfect gift’ they had given to a friend for sale on one of the tables among a pile of assorted clothes. It hurt so much it made her weep as she remembered how she had given that gift to now realise that it really wasn’t wanted.
Jesus did the same when he came with the perfect gift for the world, a gift that would save us from all the horrors of war, and it made him weep when he saw it was hidden from view, probably in a cupboard or drawer or like a light under a bowl!
If only we had known what would bring us peace and understood that it was the perfect gift to be always on display for the world to see. Instead, our enemies are constantly present and have kept returning through history with war after war caused because we haven’t understood the value of the perfect gift. Two more verses tell us that the gift costs LOVE but brings JOY when the PEACE is received.
What Jesus gives us is the perfect gift to put in the most prominent place in our lives so it can be seen by everyone for the glory of our Father in heaven. Our Father weeps tears from heaven as well because he sent his Son as the perfect gift, but we still don’t understand it! (John 1: 5)
Jesus left us with HIS peace which isn’t of human wisdom as the world understands (John 14: 27), but is the gift his Father sent him with and he now gives to us. It’s not a gift he doesn’t want because he buys it with his life so that we can receive it with the power of the Holy Spirit! (John 20: 21-23) That’s the most valuable gift we can ever receive.
If you see it in a car boot sale or on a table of jumble for a fiver grab it quick because it will be priceless on the antiques road show! Put it on display for the world to see and know that you are a friend of Christ our Lord. Amen!
It occurs to me to warn you not to be worried if people look and observe that you must have picked up what you are wearing from a table of jumble, a charity shop or a car boot sale because the perfect gift that Christ gives should be well worn now and passed down through many generations. You are not wearing what your older sister wore, or your mother, or even your grandmother. You can be wearing what your great great grandmother wore — but don’t be ashamed of it, even if you are a man! Wear it with pride and dignity because it shows that you are a friend of Christ our Lord with the perfect gift of peace to give through the love that fills the world with joy, not tears.
The will of God is for a Kingdom to come to earth in which the sound of weeping and crying is silenced because the pain of the past has been healed. We won’t need to remember the wrongs of the past because the lessons will have been learned and God will be rejoicing and delighted with his children, not weeping with sadness. The great revelation is that there will be no tears in heaven — and the will of God is for heaven to come to earth.
The day will come when there will be no more wars that bring pain and mourning; no more weeping widows or orphaned children; no more buildings turned to rubble by the bombs or harvests ravished by forest fires. Through scripture I can continue to look through a window on earth and see the heaven to come.
The work of the past, with all the sacrifices, will not be in vain and people will be blessed by the Lord with a kingdom in which no-one causes harm or destruction anymore. I am encouraged by what I see through the window Isaiah opens for me to the kingdom of heaven.
Just imagine being like a lamb among wolves; or walking with leopards and lions who are hungry for food! What would you do? This is a story inspired by Isaiah (11: 2-9) presented to children at the local schools for a time of Remembrance:
Lambs and wolves, leopards and goats, were led by a child to a place of peace.
“Can I live with you?”
said the lamb to the wolf.
“Can we share a meal?”
the goat asked the leopard.
Then came a lion and with a great roar said:
“Can I come to the party?”
Lambs and wolves lived without fear.
Leopards and goats trusted each other because of a child who led them to peace.
Then came a bear and said to a cow:
“Can I share your food?”
The cow said, “Yes!”
so the calves of the cow and the cubs of the bear played with a child who taught the world a great lesson for peace:
“Trust without fear!”
Lambs and wolves, leopards and goats, cows and bears and a lion or two were joined by an ox and they all lived together sharing their food in a place called peace.
Then the innocent child reached out a hand into the hole of a snake.
The lambs and the wolves, the leopards and goats, the cows and the bears, the ox and the lions all expected the worst —
but the snake didn’t bite.
The faith of the child was too much for the snake and no harm was done on the mountain of peace where even the snake has lost its bite…
Peace is the perfect gift that enables the fiercest of enemies to live together on the same land as we follow the example of a humble child. Even the serpent will resist biting the hand of the child sent by God! This is the child to follow. This is the ‘perfect peace’ sent to save the world, but it’s in remembering how the child lived and what he taught that matters more than how he died.
We can remember the horrors of war and the names of those who died, but each name has a story to tell of life and faith that should not be forgotten. It wasn’t the will of God for people to die fighting wars, but people died in wars fighting for the Kingdom of Peace to come. It will not be in vain.
Through my window of scripture I can see those that have gone before us walking in green pastures, beside streams of living waters (Psalm 23) with the fiercest of enemies reconciled and eating and sleeping side by side and working day and night (Revelation 7: 15) for the Lord so that heaven may come to earth.
The perfect gift is wrapped up in human flesh so Remember all those that have gone before to find peace in heaven and are now working to bring it to earth. It will not be in vain because our Father will wipe away the tears of his Son when the world can see how many friends he has!