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. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. — Isaiah 9:6-7
Nearly every person I’ve ever met has wanted peace – shape or form.
Isaiah predicted the coming of the Prince of Peace. Jesus promised to leave us with his peace. The Apostle Paul said one of the results of the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives would be the presence of peace.
In fact, when the angels announced birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago, they did so by promising this: Luke 2:14 … “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”
I’m not one to argue with a sky full of angels, but for many of us we don’t experience all that much peace. From my vantage point, I see an uncertain world. We live in a society in which everything we thought was nailed down is coming loose.
From Paris to San Bernardino, we see people harming other people. But we don’t have to travel out of state or out of country to experience brokenness – all too often it happens too close to home.
At Christmas, we sing songs about peace and sometimes wonder if it’s just a fairy tale.
We wonder if life isn’t more like Humpty Dumpty …
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.
And deep down – most of us wish for a different ending.
For some of you, the idea that Jesus is the Prince of Peace sounds just like Humpty Dumpty – like a fairy tale. But peace isn’t something we can create or invent.
True peace is being in a right relationship with God. Here’s how one writer described it …
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. — Romans 5:1-2
In the biblical story, darkness precedes light. In the beginning the Spirit of God hovered over the waters covered in darkness, but then God said, “Let there be light.” Ever since, God has continued to inject light into the darkness – including spiritual darkness.
Justification is not simply a legal transaction – it’s also a very personal experience. Although we were once enemies of God, through Jesus we have the opportunity to be reconciled to him.
Truth is – we could never do enough to justify ourselves before God. The good news is; we don’t have to.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:6-8
According to Paul, the light has dawned in the darkness.
What Jesus did on the cross was nothing short of reversing the curse that had plagued humans since the Fall of Adam and Eve. The curse that kept you separated from the God who created you, loves you, and wants to be in a relationship with you. The curse that created tension/hostility between yourself and God.
Jesus died in order that you might find peace with God.
For those who approach it in faith, Christmas can be a truly life-changing event that goes beyond fond family memories.
Henri Nouwen was a priest, professor, and writer who taught at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. But he spent the last 10 years of his life working with mentally and physically handicapped people in Ontario, Canada. He once wrote:
“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and many sweet words do not make Christmas. Christmas is saying ‘yes’ to something beyond all emotions and feelings. Christmas is saying ‘yes’ to a hope based on God’s work, not mine.”