“And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. – Micah 5:4-5.
“Peace on earth” is a phrase you see and hear everywhere during the Christmas season.
For many of us, we have to wonder where that peace is. It wasn’t here last Christmas. It didn’t appear at Thanksgiving. And whether it be trying to find peace in the chaos of our own lives or trying to wrap our heads around hope for peace on earth in a political or military sense, “peace on earth” seems elusive again this Christmas.
That is not all that surprising when you consider that we are struggling to struggle to find peace with ourselves. We regret past mistakes, struggle with our present weaknesses, and worry about the future. We try to “find ourselves” in different ways and search for our purpose in life through relationships, work, leisure and travel pursuits. We seek and long for peace in our relationships with others. And we struggle with the uncertainty of tomorrow and the turmoil going on in the world around us.
All that sounds familiar. Read Luke chapter 2 at home today and really think about what was happening in Mary and Joseph’s life at the time. The census was handed down. Joseph and his very pregnant wife had to made a long trip to Bethlehem. Traveling by donkey while pregnant does not make for a peaceful experience. They get there and there is no rooms for them. No peace there.
But look at Luke 2:6-7, “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” It sounds better when children recite those lines in the Christmas play. But I think the reality was somewhat different. If you have been in a labor and delivery room when a child is born, it is not a peaceful, serene place. Especially for the woman giving birth. Now replace the ultra sterile, technology filled delivery room with the dirty, noisy environment of a stable and think about the peace there.
In Luke 2: 8-15 we have the story of the shepherds. Shepherds had a hard life. They were hard men with a hard job and peace was not part of their job description. Then an Angel appeared. They were freaked out. I think most of us would have been as well. But then, the angel’s message. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy…” Then a whole group of angels appear and praise God. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (vs. 14)
So what does all this mean? Peace to men. Peace to you. Unfortunately, earthly “peace” will always change. Earthly peace is always short-lived. Christmas meals bring some peace, but just hours later you are hungry again. Happy relationships bring peace, but can you guarantee that even for one fleeting year, your solid relationship will never face arguments or problems? Christmas presents bring a little peace, but the very same gadgets that cause a hearty, “thanks” are soon broken or forgotten. And how many people ever get everything on their Christmas lists? And even if they did, would they have lasting peace?
Jesus came to bring you peace. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Peace is found in the person of Jesus. Immanuel, God with us. Isaiah 9:6 reminds us: ”For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus brings peace, regardless of the circumstances you face. You’re at peace because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the One who brings peace on earth to men.
1. What do you understand by the word “peace”?
2. Do you think Christmas is a time of peace? Why or why not? Should it be?
3. How would you rate your life? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, and there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?
4. What does peace with God mean? How do we have this kind of peace?