The Peace Of Christ
Is peace possible? Is it beyond all reasonable expectation that we on planet earth will somehow, some day, live in peace? That’s what the angels sang about, on the fields of Ephrata the night Jesus was born – “…and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.” That’s what the shepherds needed to hear. And we need to hear it too in a world where we see images of unrest like a war in Ukraine, riots in China and tension building up between nations. We need to hear it when there’s conflict in our families or with a neighbour or colleagues at work. Even for the Church of Christ, peace is a much needed word to hear. I will never forget what a Lutheran pastor told me one day, “My church is from a different conference than the Lutheran Church down the street. We don’t have anything in common.”
In 1864 1 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem about peace:
“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
St. Paul gives us a word from Ephesians 2: 11-22 about how The Peace Of Christ changed the hearts of people and give them a future that no peace treaty or agreement can ever offer. On the Sunday of Peace in the Season of Advent the apostle reminds us that
2 We Are At Peace With God. We read in verses 12 and 13, “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” I want us to think about the reality – where would we have been if Jesus Christ didn’t come to our world and brought peace between God and us? Exclusion would have been the only reality. It’s like the story of a boy from a poor neighbourhood who lived with his grandmother. She was the only family he had left. Sadly the boy was always excluded at school. The other children avoided him in all of their plays and even when sports was played no one wanted him on their team. But then a boy and his family moved into town. The new boy befriended the poor boy and didn't care what the other children thought. Then something happened that left the poor boy without care – his grandmother had a stroke and went into a home. The new family in town discussed the situation at home and the father said,
“We're not only going to take him in, we're going to adopt him.” When they walked the boy through the door of his new home, the father of the family said, “You are our son now. Welcome to the family.” My friends, at the table of the Lord, there is a wonderful message – Through the blood of Jesus, we were adopted into the family of God. It's written in His precious blood over this table, “…you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” What greater peace can come to any human heart than those words?
Through the blood of Jesus we can celebrate our position in the presence of God. We are His children. Yes, the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace as He is called in Isaiah 9: 6 made it
Paul says 3 We Can Be At Peace With Others – “For He Himself is our Peace, Who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” Verse 14. The apostle was referring to the division and animosity that always existed between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews looked down on Gentiles who weren’t
circumcised and didn’t have the citizenship of Israel, the chosen people of God. And the Gentiles regarded the Jews as enemy number one to despise. But you know, if it wasn’t Jews and Gentiles who lived in hatred toward one another, there always would be other nations to fill the void. And not just nations – our world has seen revolutions between groups of one nation who fought for power or who just fought, because they couldn’t stand one another. There are those who believe you have to be at odds with others. Isn't it true? We see division, animosity and resentments in so many relationships in our world. But the wonderful reality of Advent is
that the Prince of Peace came to restore all relationships between people. Paul tells us that He destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. That He did through His body that was broken at Golgotha. When we take the elements in a few minutes, think about the reality – Jesus came to bring not just the peace we so needed between God and ourselves, but between us and all people. We read in 2 Corinthians 5: 18, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
What is the greatest Christmas gift we can give any person this Christmas season? It’s something that wouldn’t cost us anything; something that only Jesus made possible – peace. And then after Christmas we can continue to offer this gift wherever we go.
Bob was a 74 year old man who took many knocks in life. The last straw was when his wife left him after a marriage of 38 years. Their children “sided” with their mother and he wouldn’t speak with
them. One Christmas Eve there was a knock at his wife’s door. The whole family, except Bob was there. When she opened, to her surprise it was Bob standing in the cold. To get to the point…Bob followed a Christmas Eve Service on television and heard the words that penetrated his heart – “Jesus came to bring unity between people.” He realized how much he missed his family and he went to make things right. He and his wife were reconciled. It’s true my friends, Jesus came to break down any dividing wall of hostility.
We thank God for the Peace of Jesus on this second Sunday in Advent and we praise Him that His peace will live in our hearts every day of our lives, until the time when we will experience peace in His heavenly realms.
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall