Trinity of Peace

Life_in_Tension_web“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were
for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, Peace be with you.
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were
glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
(John 20:19-21 ESV)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

When we focus on the peace as reconciliation among feuding folks—relief of the tension with our brothers and sisters, we miss the significance of God’s peace breaking out throughout the New Testament. Remember that shalom (שָׁלוֹם) means “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace” (BDB 10002). In other words, it also implies healing, restoration, reconciliation, and salvation—a return to Eden. It is not just hello and goodbye, as it is often used in Hebrew. It is reminder of the covenant and God’s work among us. Shalom implies inner peace, peace with God, and peace between brothers and sisters.

If this interpretation seems far-fetched, remember the beatitudes and Jesus’ call sermon at Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21) start with the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion– to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” (Isa. 61:1-3 ESV)

Notice the inner peace referenced with the phrase: “bind up the brokenhearted”. This sounds a lot like comforting depressed people. Notice the peace with God implied in the phrase: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me”. God himself has initiated this mission of shalom. Notice the peace with brothers and sisters implied in the phrase: “to proclaim liberty to the captives”. In effect, we are witnessing a trinity of shalom breaking out.

Inner Peace. What could bring peace more quickly than physical and mental healing? Jesus’ first miracle after leaving Nazareth is in the synagogue in Capernaum (Peter’s home town; Luke 4:38) where Jesus drives out a demon out of a man (Luke 4:31-36). This happened repeatedly (Luke 4:41).

Jesus’ ability to heal transformed a person so dramatically that it was obvious just looking at them. For example, after healing the man with the unclean spirit in the Gerasenes, we see:

“And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:15 ESV)

Wow. What power in shalom! The man healed was immediately transformed also into an evangelist (Mark 5:20), much like the woman at the well (John 4:28-30).

Peace with God. These days many people take peace with God for granted. This was certainly not a first century view. Jerusalem was destroyed first by the Babylonians for idolatry [1] and later by the Romans, presumably for sin, refusing the listen to the prophets and killing them (Matt 23:34-47). Remembers that Old Testament prophets served to remind the people of their obligations under the Mosaic covenant—in other words, their sin. Consequently, when Paul writes:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (1 Cor. 15:3-5 ESV)

He is reminding the Corinthian church that Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross and only that sacrifice made peace with God possible. No sacrifice; no peace. If God would not spare Jerusalem because of their sin, why would he spare sinful Corinth? Or, for that matter, Washington or New York?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus can atone for our sin and bring us peace with God.

Peace among Brothers and Sisters. We normally think of peace in terms of reconciliation, in part, because peace on earth is so hard to obtain. Often cited in this context is Paul’s admonition:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:18 ESV)

The shalom of Christ is, however, more generous than simply offering the absence of conflict. Jesus’ first miracle recorded in John’s Gospel shows Jesus rescuing the wedding of an impoverished couple of newlyweds from social embarassment. Notice that Jesus’ generosity has two dimensions—quantity and quality:

“Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast. So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:6-10 ESV)

Notice the math here—six times twenty is one hundred and twenty gallons of wine. You might say Jesus gave them a truck loaded with wine! If that were not enough, the wine stewart—a local critic hired to maintain community standards—praises the wine’s quality! You might say Jesus offered them a named French estate wine when a mixed store brand was expected.

Shalom implies inner peace, peace with God, and peace between brothers and sisters. Jesus delivers so much more peace than we expect or deserve.

 

[1] “You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.” (Acts 7:43 ESV)

REFERENCES

BibleWorks. 2011. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, LLC. <BibleWorks v.9>.

Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius (BDB). 1905. Hebrew-English Lexicon, unabridged.

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1 Comment

  1. I liked this. I never really understood how important peace was until I didn’t have it. As an adult. Now I understand. To have peace, to sleep well at night – awesome. Thanks. Like I said, never give up you are talented and you will succeed.Sincerely,Karen

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