"If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him" ~Luke 10.6a
In Luke 10.2, Jesus tells his apostles (all those sent by Jesus as heralds of his message of the Kingdom of God) that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. He instructs them to earnestly pray a very specific prayer – “Beseech the Lord of the Harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
After praying, the apostles were told to take nothing with them but to enter a town and then enter a house and say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, the blessing of peace will rest upon him. If not, the blessing of peace will be returned to the apostles.
This probably strikes most of us as a strange instruction. First of all, can you even imagine going to a new city or town and simply walking into someone’s house and pronouncing peace upon them? Would you do that? How would you know which house to enter? How would the people in that house respond? In order to understand this better, let’s look at what Jesus means by a man of peace.
“Man of peace” is the translation most often given to the Greek phrase uios eirēnēs (literally “a son of peace”). Like many languages, Greek uses the masculine of a word when referring to mixed-gender groups. Since we know that many women ended up being these “men” of peace who housed Jesus and the disciples, we can infer here that the phrase means child of peace, so we’ll use this phrase and the gender neutral “person of peace” and “people of peace” from this point on.
In the Gospel of Luke, the word peace is often used in conjunction with faith and salvation (Luke 1.79; 2.14, 29; 7.50; 8.48; 19.38, 42; 24.36). It is a metonymy (a word representing a larger idea), then, for this idea of salvation through trust in Jesus as Messiah, Lord, and Savior. In the similar phrase “children of the resurrection” (tēs anastaseōs uioi) found in Luke 20.36, “child of” means a person destined for some outcome. Likewise, in Luke 16.8 the “children of this age” (oi uioi tou aiōnos toutou) are contrasted with the “children of light” (tous uious tou phōtos). This is another way of saying the people belonging to or destined for Satan’s kingdom, which is the kingdom of this age, and those belonging to or destined for God’s heavenly Kingdom, which is the kingdom of light (cf. Colossians 1.13-14 for a similar attribution, but in reverse).
The children of the resurrection are people destined for the final resurrection and the children of light are those destined for the heavenly kingdom of light and the child of peace is a person destined for salvation through faith in Jesus and his Kingdom.
So now we know what the person of peace is. It is a person that God has prepared in advance to receive the gospel with joy. If you say “Peace to this house” and the person responds in faith to the gospel, then your peace (offer of salvation) will, indeed, remain on that person. If they reject the gospel, your offer of salvation will return to you.
So how do you find such a person?
You don’t! You pray to the Lord of the harvest to bring you together!
Jesus is telling his apostles, those sent to proclaim the good news of his Kingdom, to pray for God to bring new laborers into the work of Jesus’ ministry and then he tells them to go into each town and uncover the people God has given in answer to that prayer. How freeing is this? We don’t need to create people of peace by our incredible insights into the gospel or our amazing interpersonal skills that that they just can’t resist. We simply need to enter the places God has already called us to go and trust that God will lead us to one another.
In our church, we call those places where we already are our Frontlines. Your Frontline is your workplace, your neighborhood, your school, and maybe even your home – anywhere that you regularly and naturally engage with unbelieving people. It could even be the gym or the grocery store or – should I go on?
So as you go about your business, pray each day that God would lead you to an encounter with a person of peace. Then, look for the answer to that prayer. If you think you’ve found the answer – if you meet such a person that you think God is leading you to – share your blessing of peace with them by sharing the gospel. Sometimes it will return to you, but sometimes it will remain with them. Could there be an easier outreach strategy?
I invite you to pray right now to the Lord of the harvest to send you to people of peace. Pray it every day, look for an answer, and just wait to see what the Lord will do.