I could’ve been a great piano player. Really. I’d be playing circles around Chopin right now, if it weren’t for three small drawbacks.
First, I’m allergic to cats. My piano teacher’s enormous Persian cat lounged on an armchair next to the piano during every lesson. I could barely breathe, let alone learn music.
Second, I hardly ever practiced the piano, and when I did, I rehearsed my own made-up concertos, instead of the nursery rhymes in my book.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, I never achieved piano greatness because I simply lacked talent. Enthusiasm, yes. Skill, no. I’d pound the ivories with gusto, and slide my hands from the high keys to the lows, and hold down the pedal to make it all echo loudly, until someone (usually my mom) would holler at me to stop. I made lots of noise, but I didn’t exactly make music. Far from it.
Pianos generate either beautiful harmony or harsh discord. It all depends on the musician in charge.
Now that I’m an adult (and still piano-challenged), I enjoy the beautiful "harmony" in life. I witness it in God’s creation, in my children’s laughter, and in a worshipful song in church. But I’ve lived long enough to notice a fair share of discord, too. Discord that’s far worse than my piano noise: the chaos of war, the pain of disease, the struggle of poverty. With all this brokenness, it’s easy to despair. It’s easy to wonder, "Where is the Musician in charge?"
Prince of Peace
The people of Isaiah’s day understood. Their nation was divided, and they longed for a Messiah who would end the discord. Isaiah told them that God’s salvation was close at hand. This Messiah, Isaiah said, will be called "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Prince of Peace. What a name! In charge of making everything whole. Years later, when Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s words, this Prince of Peace gave hope to the hopeless and love to the unlovely. He replaced sadness with joy. Jesus, as my pastor says, "painted a picture of a world put right"—of the Musician in charge playing beautiful music.
Is there chaos in your life? Do you wish you could silence the "noise" in your soul? How reassuring to remember that our Jesus makes harmony, not discord. If we listen carefully, we’ll hear His melody. The Musician plays it to soothe us. He is our Prince of Peace.
Punishment Brings Peace
Sin causes the worst discord—the greatest source of brokenness and separation from God. But good news! Isaiah foretold that the Prince of Peace would reconcile us to God, getting rid of sin once and for all. Jesus’ death paid for sin, and "the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:5).
His punishment: our peace. And yet, don’t we often forget that the payment isn’t ours to make? Unwilling to accept grace, we look for ways to earn our own salvation. "It can’t be as simple as a gift," we tell ourselves. "Surely I must do something to merit this."
A few months ago, our family was having a "breakfast for dinner" night at Denny’s, when a group of college-aged kids came in. It was shortly after the holidays, and they had just returned from their semester break. We watched the students carefully study their menus, add up their change on the table, and opt to share meals and drink only water. Obviously none of them could afford much.
"We’re getting their bill," my husband whispered matter-of-factly. And we did. Secretly we flagged down their waitress, paid off their tickets, and left before they knew what happened.
As we drove home, almost giddy with excitement, my husband explained the lesson to our kids. "This is just what Jesus did for us. We couldn’t pay for own sin, so Jesus covered it for us."
Try as we might, we can’t atone for sin ourselves. Thankfully, God never intended for us to do so. N.T. Wright summarizes it this way: "Jesus died the death that awaited others, in order that they might not die it." The Musician made a way to bring us back into harmony with Him: the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.
Covenant of Peace
Jesus the Messiah ushered in peace, and purchased peace, for everyone who will accept the offer. And the best part, as Isaiah prophesied, is that this peace will endure. Not only is peace our "strength for today," but a "bright hope for tomorrow" as well.
"’Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you." (Isaiah 54:10)
On this we can depend: God keeps His promises. The peace covenant He established through Jesus is eternal. His peace will last forever!
Why do we so often overlook this promise? Perhaps because it’s so familiar. But we would be wise to dwell on this truth: Jesus’ peace will endure—forever! Wholeness will be restored—forever. Our hope will last—forever. Health, rest, freedom—all this and more—forever! Marriages, careers, children, finances—whatever struggles and discord we face today, all will be "put right" eternally. Like a young mother sings unending love songs to her baby, so the Musician sings an everlasting covenant of peace to His children.
Musician of Peace
Even now, years after the days of piano lessons with Persian cats, I still have a piano in my living room—though I don’t hold my breath for classical pianist fame. And I still love to plunk out my own songs—though my family holds their ears in pain when I do. Maybe someday I’ll play well enough to call it music. Maybe someday I’ll make beautiful harmony, but for now it all still qualifies as noise. Harsh discord.
And yet, I know a much better Musician than I. Jesus is the Prince of Peace who took my punishment upon Himself, and His covenant of peace lasts forever. His melodies are sweet to the soul and refreshing to the heart. When this Musician is in charge, the discord disappears. When He plays, all is at peace.