The Peace of the Gospels

As I have read Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, it has constantly stood out to me how different his writing is than that in the gospels. Though they were written about the same time and about events happening in the same places, the gospels are full of peace and the writings of Josephus are full of war.  It reminds me how important it is to hold the gospels in their historical context as we read them.

Jesus didn’t live in America. He lived in a country under the heavy oppression of the Roman empire. His fellow Jews were a people consistently looking for a way to fight against the Romans. Death and violence were normal. While the Jews in Judea never gathered in amphitheaters to watch victims devoured by wild animals, things like cutting off hands and gouging out eyes were closer a part of daily life than a figment of one’s imagination. Crucifixes with dead bodies hanging on them randomly lined the roads to warn people that if they rebelled they would suffer the same fate. 

In all this turmoil, Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. His eventual death on such a cross would bring life to millions of people around the world. His dying words as he appeared to end his life on that cross were “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing!” (My paraphrase of Luke 23:34) 

His violent death ushered in peace that cannot be understood with one’s reason. In the millennia to follow His followers would find themselves occasionally looking at each other and saying, “I just don’t understand. I should be so upset right now, but I am not. I have an amazing peace instead!”  

Jesus gave believers the Holy Spirit, so that they might have the ability to stand in bloody, war-torn countrysides without being overcome by fear.

Today I encourage us to ask Jesus for the same peace that He had on the cross! It was not a peace devoid of the reality of His pain, but it was a peace that was strong enough to shout forgiveness over the grave injustice being committed against Him. 

May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, be with you in great abundance today! (Philippians 4:7)

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