Whatever peace is, it must be highly important or very attractive or totally necessary—to judge by how much Jesus wants us to get it: He comes back from the grave, shows up in a room filled by His followers—cowering together “for fear of the Jewish leaders”—and frightens them dramatically more by getting in without knock or key. He says, “Peace be with you!” They talk for a while, especially about the physical evidences of His crucifixion. Before He leaves, He says the words of blessing again, “Peace be with you!” (see John 20:19-21). A week later He repeats the frightening drama for Thomas’ sake, showing up unannounced and unadmitted. Thomas has spent the week disputing last week’s story simply because he wasn’t there when it happened. Jesus greets everyone again: “Peace to you!” (verse 21). We must really need this peace. And not just us!
to stormy waves: “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39, KJV).
to a woman, now healed: “Go in peace” (Mark 5:34, multiple versions).
to His disciples: “Be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50, NRSV)
to His disciples about mission strategy: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house’ ” (Luke 10:5, NIV).
to a gawking crowd: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace” (Luke 11:21, NKJV).
grieving over Jerusalem: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace . . .” (Luke 19:41, NIV).
Jesus is clearly alien. Regular earthlings fight and quarrel with anyone, for everything or nothing at all; even against the claim that we are contentious, because we so naturally are (James 4:1). To win the fight against the truth that we are naturally bellicose, we redefine the word “peace,” as a “nonwarring condition.”1 Then when one definition isn’t enough to win, we also carefully define “war.” Getting to true peace, the shalom of Klingbeil’s article (see pp. 48-50) takes great effort. But thankfully, blessedly, Jesus is willing to put in that effort and turn us into lovers of peace, lovers indeed of Himself, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), because of whose awesome sacrifice it now is said: He is our peace (Eph. 2:14).
Between His sacrifice and His insistent repetitions, the point comes through: everybody must have this peace. So:
Peter speaks of peace: It’s “the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36, NIV).
Paul speaks of peace, in blessed introduction and with minimal variation, to every congregation or individual his letters address:
to the Romans—Romans 1:7
to the Corinthians, twice—1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2
to the Galatians—Galatians 1:3
to the Ephesians—Ephesians 1:2
to the Philippians—Philippians 1:2
to the Colossians—Colossians 1:2
to the Thessalonians, twice—1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2
to Timothy, twice—1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2
to Titus—Titus 1:4
to Philemon—Philemon 3
On Jesus’ birthday the angels already knew what would happen. They were ecstatic. They came to earth singing about it. But then . . .
Angels’ song about peace: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace” (Luke 2:14, NIV).
Jesus states an apparent contradiction: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division” (Luke 12:51).
Isaiah lays out the contrast: “I have seen what they do, but I will heal” “and comfort them, helping them to mourn and to confess their sins. Peace, peace to them, both near and far, for I will heal them all. But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still, but always churns up mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, for them!” (Isa. 57:18-21, TLB).2
Jesus puts things in context: “I am leaving you with a gift— peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives” (John 14:27, TLB).
Jesus contextualizes and contrasts again: “In just a little while I will be gone, and you will see me no more; but just a little while after that, and you will see me again! . . . I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:16-33, TLB).
Old Testament: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace [shalom]” (Num. 6:24-26, NIV).
New Testament: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, . . . equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20, 21, NIV).
1 “Peace,” definition 1, DICTIONARY.COM unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc., 2022: https:// www.dictionary.com/browse/peace.
2 Texts credited to TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. Used by permission.