James ends chapter 3 with a mildly cryptic sentence: “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). It helps to unpack it backwards, since it’s written backwards chronologically: (a) there are people who make peace; (b) these people sow seeds of a certain kind; (c) these seeds bear the fruit of righteousness. Within the context, James is still talking about heavenly wisdom. It is a sign of spiritually mature and wise people to encourage peace between individuals, to sow peace, work peace, encourage peace, and be peaceable. This peace bears the fruit of righteousness; like agricultural seeds, it may take time, but it is sure.
Quite literally, that’s exactly why Jesus came: to create peace practically between estranged humanity and God. Paul explained that, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. . . . We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:1, 10, 11; emphasis supplied). Jesus is the Greatest Peacemaker there ever was, both fulfilling God’s requirement of righteousness and taking on the consequences of humanity’s failures. His sacrifice makes no sense in the context of worldly wisdom: why would God risk all of heaven for the sake of wayward creatures? Maybe it could be understood to die for someone who was righteous, but why die for one’s enemies? (Rom. 5:6, 7, 10). Why take a punishment that someone else deserves? Why share a reward with someone who merited none of it? Jesus chose to do these unexplainable things out of love: not for Himself, but for humanity.
This Greatest Peacemaker extends His mission of peace to all who love Him; by being compelled by His same love, His disciples become His ambassadors to plead with others to be reconciled to God, to accept the peace that Jesus secured for all who will accept it (2 Cor. 5:14, 20). His children represent the God of Peace who fills believers with peace, enables them to live in peace, and, most miraculously, to be at peace with Himself (Rom. 15:13, 33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9). Peace, then, is not just a mental state, a word to be cross-stitched or sought after—it is a theologically rich and deeply practical experience that was earned by Jesus and freely given to His children, who, in turn, will not be able to keep from giving the good news to those around them.