Peace on Earth
Every Christmas I see an advertisement on some of the tv stations that say “May this be the year that peace on earth and goodwill toward men finally comes.”
And tonight I think about peace. I remember a policeman saying that suicides and domestic disputes spike during the holidays..the season of peace. I think about all that has happened in our world this past year…the wars, the shootings, the incredibly hateful and toxic political cycle, the job losses, the divorces, the people I know and love struggling with depression and major losses…it makes me wonder about peace. Where is this peace on earth and good will towards men that the angels proclaimed thousands of years ago to some lowly shepherds who were living out in the field just minding their own business, taking care of their own flock?.
Reading through the story in the Gospels, you cannot escape how excited the Angels were. The initial angel said that “I bring you good news that will bring much joy! Peace has come to earth!” (paraphrasing Luke 2)
What were the angels talking about? What caused them such great joy? Was war going to cease? Was mankind going to stop committing horrible atrocities against one another? We take one look at history and know that’s not true…
In fact within days of Jesus being born, Herod sentenced to death every male child in Bethlehem and its surrounding district under the age of two. (Matthew 2:16 – 18) Mankind is capable of great evil.
Jesus, Himself, says in Luke 12:51 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” Wow…that’s not very encouraging.
And how do we reconcile these two statements? What on earth were the angels talking about? What did they see that brought them such awe, worship, and joy? The angels were not praying for peace to come. THEY WERE DECLARING THAT PEACE HAD COME! Peace had arrived with the birth of Jesus.
What they saw was God moving…moving to make things right between Himself and mankind. To bring back peace where there had been enmity. Seeing God being born as a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, born in a feeding trough alerted them to the fact that something big was happening. God, in Jesus, was emptying Himself, becoming a baby so that HE could come and set things right. Set us right.
So much was lost in the Garden of Eden. It was not only our relationship with God that was severed by sin but also the way we relate to one another. Relationships were broken and twisted in the fall. It was very soon after the fall, the first murder occurred — Cain killed his brother Abel due to anger and jealousy. No one has to tell us that mankind is broken and busted. We see it everyday. In Newtown. In the Sudan. In the streets of our cities. In the sex slave trade. In our marriages, in our schools, in our families.
When Jesus was born in a manger so many years ago, there was a purpose. His purpose was to live and to die. A perfect life, never sinning. Dying on the Cross. God sacrificed God for you. For me. So that we could once again be at peace with God. And be at peace with one another.
Zacharias, a high priest and also Jesus’ relative prophesied that God had raised up a horn of salvation and was going to deliver us from the hands of our enemies (of sickness, depression, anger, rage to name a few) so tha we could serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives. (Luke 1:67 -75). I don’t have to be afraid of God. I can live right. I can love others right.
Jesus, Himself at the onset of His earthly ministry says that He came to preach the Good News to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives, to give recovery of sight to the blind, to free those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18 – 19) I don’t know about you but I have been poor, broken by other people’s actions, enslaved to sin, blinded to how God really sees me and my situation. I have been chained by my own thoughts and insecurities.
Jesus was born to die. On Calvary. On the Cross. For you and for me. To break the chains and to bring us peace. From the manger in Bethlehem to the Cross on Calvary. The Christmas story is not complete without the Cross. The ultimate price for the ultimate peace treaty. Peace has come between God and man.
There is a reason Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. He came so that we could have peace WITH God and the peace OF God. We can have peace that passes all understanding. Even when it appears the world around us is going to hell. We can have the peace of God in our minds, in our bodies, in our marriages, in our careers, in our relationships.
Peace comes to earth as we accept this gift of Jesus. The Prince of Peace. The only One Who can bring us the peace that we crave. That the world craves. As we choose to follow Him and discover the purpose for which He created us, we find peace. As we follow Jesus from the manger to the Cross and everywhere in between, we find peace. As we follow Jesus, we discover that we are His workmanship, His poem, His masterpiece. We are simply His.
This Christmas may you continue to discover the peace that the angels declared had come. May you see the Prince of Peace in a fresh and new way. May you know that you are cherished and loved by Jesus.