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Daily devotional: Peace on Earth | The Gospel of Luke. A dark night sky with a shining lantern.

Practical Theology | What Is Peace?

  • December 2022 Issue
Practical Theology

“There is more to peace than a personal experience. For the Christian, peace is a person. Jesus is our peace.”

Most of us are familiar with the words of the angelic host recorded in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” This declaration was the exclamation point to the angels’ announcement of good news that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem (v. 11). But what did the angels mean?

This promise of peace belongs to those upon whom “his favor rests.” This is the peace of God that comes as a gift of grace. In the Old Testament, the peace of God is expressed in the Hebrew word shalom. We usually think of peace as the absence of war or ending of conflict, but the biblical idea is more comprehensive. Biblical peace is primarily relational, grounded in God. On the night of His arrest, Jesus promised to grant peace to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

Jesus became God’s primary agent of peace by reconciling us through the offering of Himself on the cross. As Ephesians 2:14 puts it, Jesus “is our peace.” Because Jesus “came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near,” both Jews and Gentiles “have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:17–18). The peace of Christ does more than enable us to get along with one another. By fulfilling God’s law on our behalf and dying for our sins, Jesus makes us “fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Eph. 2:19).

Those who know the peace of Christ become agents of peace themselves. When Jesus first sent His disciples to proclaim the kingdom, He told them, “As you enter the home, give it your greeting” (Matt. 10:12)— the traditional Jewish greeting, “shalom.” But this was more than a social formality. Christians are offering peace through faith in Christ to others. The shalom of Christ is more than a greeting. It is a promise. There is more to peace than a personal experience. For the Christian, peace is a person. Jesus is our peace.

For Further Study

To learn more, read God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom by Graham A. Cole (InterVarsity).

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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