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He Shall Be Called "Prince of Peace"

Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:32
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Our Scripture lessons today begin with our two Advent verses from the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 9:6 ESV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 7:14 ESV
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Our Gospel Lesson from Mark’s Gospel: Mark 14:53-65:
Mark 14:53–65 ESV
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.
After decades of seeing an increase in the average life expectancy in the United States, this year marks the third year in a row that the life expectancy of the average American has declined. The United States now has a lower life expectancy than Costa Rica!
What accounts for this decline? It is not what normally increases death rates, such as war, disease or famine. In all these areas the death rates are at record lows. It is what people are now calling “Deaths of Despair”; things such as drug overdose, accidence and suicide.
It is to this dark anguish of the soul that the message of Advent speaks so powerfully, because the message of Advent is that the Prince of Peace has come, and He is coming again!
Our Scripture lesson from Mark 14 is taken from a time when there was little peace in the minds and hearts of Jesus’ followers. As we read Mark 14 and the following chapters, we find them in...

Three Days of Turmoil and Consternation

The three days between Maundy Thursday and Easter Morning were a time of great turmoil and consternation in the lives of Jesus and His followers. It began with the somber pathos of the Last Supper.
Mark 14:22–25 ESV
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
It moves on to the shocking prediction of Peter’s denial and the deep darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus tells His disciples, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” and He prays to His Father saying, “Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Quickly the events of that evening unfold with Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. In the wee hours of the morning, before the sun rises, Jesus stands before a kangaroo court and is condemned without evidence. There in the courtyard, in the flickering light of a fire, Peter denies Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted. As the sun rises Friday morning, Jesus is taken to Pilate and although Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, Pilate condemns Jesus to be crucified. Taken from Pilate’s court, Jesus is wipped, beaten, mocked and then crucified, crying out as He breathed His last, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The only one with enough courage to take Jesus body from the cross was a member of the Jewish ruling Council named Joseph of Arimathea. Late that afternoon, before the sun set, Joseph and a few women hastily prepared Jesus’ body for burial and then there was silence.
What a long twenty four hours that Sabbath day must have been for the disciples!
Each disciple had betrayed and failed Jesus in their own way. The Sabbath was intended to be a day of rest, but there was no rest for them on that day. Their consciences never gave them peace, it shouted one accusation after another at them! Then there were the looks (or should I say the non-looks) they couldn’t stand to look at one another in the eye. Each knew the other had failed and that they themselves had failed!
There was no peace, only turmoil and consternation!
We have all felt that way, perhaps you are feeling that way right now.
One of the most interesting phenomena of life is how memories, regrets and guilt from the past can suddenly come flooding back when you least expect them too. Memory is an interesting thing and science is only know beginning to understand it, but as a Christian theologian I cannot help but think there are also spiritual forces behind all those sleepless nights, for we read in in Revelation 12:10 that Satan is “the accuser of the brethren, …who accuses them day and night.” I think we need to be wise about what is really going on, although our consciences have the ability to accuse us unaided by any outside force, there are evil spiritual forces that jump on every opportunity to add their voices, with the intent to destroy us. Did not Jesus Himself say to Peter, “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”
This brings us to the second point:

In the Midst of Accusations, Jesus Remained Silent

If anyone had the right to Twit a pithy comeback at His accusers it was Jesus. Pilate himself admitted Jesus had done no wrong and that it was out of envy the chief priest had delivered Jesus up to him. Yet Jesus remained silent.
Why did He remain silent?
Jesus gives us the answer in the Key Verse of the Gospel of Mark:
Mark 10:45 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Although Jesus was totally without sin, the only human being this can be said of, He took upon Himself our sin, so that He could atone for our sin and silence the voices accusing us. Isaiah the prophet, prophesied hundreds of years before that this is what the Messiah would do.
Isaiah 53:4–7 ESV
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Commenting of what Jesus did for us, the Apostle Paul writes:
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In other words, Jesus could not answer His accusers. He who was innocent of all crimes, had been made guilty of all crimes by God the Father! This explains why Jesus submitted Himself to John’s baptism of repentance. Let me read that passage to refresh your memory:
Matthew 3:13–15 ESV
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
What made it fitting?
What made it fitting is the fact that Jesus so identified Himself with those whom He came to save that “he who was without sin, became sin”!
But Jesus did not become sin and thus remain silent, so He would remain silent forever. No! In the face of accusation Jesus remained silent in order that He could speak forever in our defense!

Jesus Remained Silent, So That He Could Forever Speak Peace

Although Mark does not record these words, we read in the Gospel According to John that the last words of Jesus on the cross were these, “It is finished.” (John 19:30).
In dying, Jesus, paid the price for sin, which is death. When we confess that Jesus “descended into Hell,” we are confessing that Jesus drained the cup of God’s wrath. That is why He was able to rise again on Easter morning and that is why Paul said He “became the righteousness of God.” Those who trust in Jesus have a defender to speak peace to them when the voice of regret and accusation threaten to take away all peace. I want to read to you again the words of our Candle Lighting Litany:
During Advent, we wait for the coming Savior who is our Prince of Peace.
In the midst of conflict, we look to the One who brings harmony.
In the midst of confusion, we look to the One who brings clarity.
In the midst of division, we look to the One who brings unity.
In the midst of separation, we look to the One who restores the broken.
Sin causes conflict, confusion, division, separation. We see all these things on full display during those three days of Maundy Thursday through Easter, but when the sun rose Easter morning and Jesus stepped out of the tomb, He spoke the words of peace to all who trusts in Him.
Jesus is still speaking those words to any who will listen. He is the Prince of Peace.
What is causing turmoil and consternation in your life? Jesus has a word to speak to those issues, it is a word of peace!
In a moment, I am going to give you an opportunity to invite Jesus into your life as the Prince of Peace. After a brief time of silence, I will close in prayer. Let us bow our heads and come to the Prince of Peace.
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