As Jesus was sending the Twelve Apostles out on their first mission, He provided with them with some instructions and teaching in preparation. We are at the part of the preparatory speech where Jesus has just reminded them that they should fear God, and that God controls the death of everything.
Prince of Division
Isaiah 9:1-7, where Isaiah tells us that there will be no more gloom for the distressed. God will honor the Gentiles (according to one interpretation). People in darkness have seen a great light. God has made the nation bigger, increased joy, and lifted peoples burdens. War-bloodied clothing will be burnt. A son is born who will rule and be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). His peace and government will know no end, and he will rule from David's throne in justice and righteousness forever.
If you are a Christian, you probably thought that this prophesy matched Jesus pretty well, but did you notice the verb tense? It speaks of a hope which had already dawned at the time of Isaiah's writing, and will come to fruition with a ruler on David's throne, the throne of the nation of Israel. Not exactly a match with Jesus. The last part, about the ruler's peace, government, and ruling lasting forever, that does sound like Jesus, but we should keep in mind that eternal kingship was promised to David as well, and only meant that David's descendants would rule on the throne of the nation (2 Samuel 7:8-16).
So what about the actual synonym? Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Is that a match? Well, how about we let Jesus explain it Himself in Matthew 10:34-36:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'” NIVSo Jesus tells us that He did not come here to bring peace, but rather to turn members of your own family into your enemies. Luke 12:51-53 essentially says the same thing. That is just about the opposite of what I would expect a “Prince of Peace” to do. While Isaiah paints a picture of a lineage of rulers whose peace would be ever expanding, Matthew and Luke show Jesus to create turmoil in our very homes.
Some may say that the peace which Jesus brings is a spiritual peace; a calm despite all of the afflictions and uncertainty of the world around us. To that sentiment, I ask who is at spiritual peace when his or her enemies are his or her own parents?
Others may say that this peace refers to when Jesus will come back and rule the earth for 1000 years, but that is time-limited and so it cannot be forever in agreement with the prophesy.
Still others claim that this peaceful kingship is only referring to the kingdom of the afterlife and the great peace Jesus will bring there, but this would seem to be inaccurate because Isaiah says that war-bloodied clothing will be burnt. What would war-bloodied clothing be doing in the afterlife?
Christianity has yielded a lack of peace, both on the macro-scale, with events like the Crusades, and on the micro-scale, with division lines among families drawn on dogmatic beliefs. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, I would prefer a different kind of peace, thank you. No, Jesus, based on His own words, is the Prince of Division.