Prince of Peace
The Rev. Jon Roberts
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[c] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[d] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Prince of Peace by Akiane Kramarik 2002
There is a painting of Jesus. The background is dark. But He's up close as light touches the right side of his face. He is probably in his thirties. His features are sincere and truthful. His eyes are open and he is looking at you. His nose is long and slender. His hair is brown, and curly; wavy. He has dark eyebrows and a beard you could scratch. His mouth is closed but somehow he manages to relay a message. It is a beautiful painting. Only a well-disciplined artist could produce such a work. To follow the blessed steps of The Master, The Prince of Peace, requires discipline. Every artist who has attempted to paint Him knows they are really painting God, the author of all life. No pressure, but a daunting task for sure as one must capture the message of the Son to try and understand the Father.
When we say a person has discipline what do we mean? It means we decide to follow certain steps. A disciple follows their master. They want to be like that person. It is about what they want to achieve. There is also a level of obedience, a strong commitment of faith in what they believe. In order to achieve, one must believe. They believe not only in what they can do but they also must relinquish what they cannot do. There must be faith, following a discipline to believe what you can see by achieving something you can't. We are constrained somewhat in our portrait of God and heaven because of the simplicity of our portraits of Jesus. If you were to paint a picture of Jesus how would you present Him as the Prince of Peace? Our culture has a lazy eye for peace. It does not use enough color or light to paint it well. The emphasis is on the landscapes more than the people who journey through them.
When playing the family board game, "Life" you would kind of get the idea. The banker sets up the money. Players select their little plastic cars and put their tiny pegs, representing them in the driver's seat. Players quickly deduce it's more advantageous to land on the spaces that make them into a lawyer or a doctor because each time you pass a "Pay Day" you earn a lot more money than if you would, let's say, be the person who took a teaching degree or business degree. There isn't a space for a priest. Perhaps that would be too far down the pay scale for the game.
You count the spaces and hope you spin the right number on the wheel to get you on those coveted spots. Get a good degree. Get a good job. Spin the wheel. Go through the motions and collect your investment in the end. If your goal is to have a car full of children, and earn millionaire status farther along than the rest you are credited as the winner. This is the landscape painted today by our culture. In the game of "Life," there are two things that stand out. One is that you have to spin that wheel in the center of the board. Second, you actually have to land where you want in order to feel successful. Perhaps one prays when they get ready to spin. What kind of petty prayer would that be? "Lord let me become a doctor so that my salary is high." "Give me more children because I get fifty grand each, at the end." "Let me roll a seven to claim an inheritance.” It becomes evident in this game of Life that children often see things differently. Most children strive for a landscape more pure and innocent and seek not the material achievements. Instead they believe life has more to offer. They want to be a doctor because they want to heal the sick or be the teacher to give and education to children. They want to marry and love their spouse forever and they want as many children in their car because they know the importance of family. And they want that same car to be the red one because it makes them go fast and feel free.
It's funny, but children seem to already know what they believe in; Even if this isn't what they've been told, or have seen modeled. If we are to follow the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of the world, would it not be beneficial for us to land on the space that affords Christian teaching? Would it not be advantageous for a child to be born to Christian parents? Then, a child could interpret the steps and paint the picture of Jesus. Yet I tell you, life has many twists and turns. You never know where you will land. Do you remember the painting of Jesus described at the beginning?
About sixteen years ago, God conceived a child in a mother's womb. She would have been the pink token placed in her mother and father's car when they landed on the having a baby space. The parents would not want to land on the space to make them Christians because they were atheists. They did not believe in God nor in His Son, The Prince of Peace, Jesus. Like many others in this life they believed Jesus was a historical figure but they did land on that space when their child was born. At an early age, little Akiana began telling them of her dreams of heaven; how real it was and how God was speaking to her. Her dreams came to life in her drawings at age four. By age eight she was given paint and brushes and she painted what she saw in her mind. The picture detailed earlier was by her hand. She was never told the stories of Jesus. She was never read the bible and never went to church. Yet God visited her. With graphic detail she has become internationally known and now shares her work that sells for thousands and speaks to millions. She says that through Jesus does she see God's revelation for life. Heaven has colors we have yet seen, she says. Jesus was constrained in this world because the world had a different expectation of heaven. It painted with neutral colors and figured life was all about beating the rest of the players. But Jesus ushered in a new method, bringing to life a better reason to play. And to do that, to achieve heaven one must believe that He alone is the vehicle to get us there. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Son of God and by Him, and with Him and in Him, God the Father in heaven is revealed in our portrait.
This is precisely why the house was divided into five, three against two and two against three. It is why father was against son and son against father; Mother against daughter and daughter against mother. The persecuted disciples of the disciples added this text after the saying of our Lord because they wanted to mix the colors and add to the effect of what their landscape was like. All of them were Jews. All of them waited for the Messiah and all of them had been told He will come to rule the earth. The problem was they didn't expect Him to come like Jesus. He didn't fit into what the Messiah should look like. This still goes on today. Even Christian homes that prefer to paint by numbers, may not have the discipline to achieve the fullness of heaven if they are unable to believe Jesus looks right at them every day. He calls us by name and He wants us to follow His steps through the game of Life. When your background is dark, when your landscape is lifeless, then is the time to have the discipline, to close your eyes and dream about the face of the One who ushers in peace. Therefore, rely on your faith in God and He will show you The Way, by the portrait of The Prince of Peace.