Summary: Jesus brings peace through the means of peace
First Sunday After Christmas
December 28, 2008
Advent Series based on Scripture in Handel’s Messiah
Read p. xvii in the Voice from on High
The Magi come to honour a king – what kind of king?
Alexander vs Jesus
Alexander – verses 3-7a – an empire based on force and violence
The new king doesn’t ride in on a warhorse, but humbly, on a donkey
Not necessarily a Christmas story in fulfillment – we usually put Mary on a donkey on the trip to Bethlehem – no mention of it in bible, we will also put Mary and Jesus on a donkey for the flight to Egypt – once again there is no donkey mentioned.
Where the fulfillment of the prophesy is mentioned is in the triumphal entry on “Palm Sunday” – remember that Messiah is not just an Christmas production.
The people did shout like Zechariah says, they shout, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”
In less than a week the cries turned to crucify him! I think that it was because Jesus came humbly – they wanted Alexander on the Warhorse, not God on a Donkey
The humility of the king/kingdom – will not break a bruised reed, or snuff out a glowing wick
The quiet growth of the kingdom – mustard seed, yeast
He brings righteousness/Justice – no “rightiousness=morality/justice divide” in the Bible – same word
& Salvation – not from the Romans or another oppressor, but from the great oppressor – our own evil – through the cross
“I ain’t gonna study war no more…”
- verse 10
- I remember the time when Saul was king when there were no weapons in Israel – not because of peace, but because of the Philistine oppression.
- This new king is to usher in an era when chariots, warhorses and bows will not exist because they will not be needed – He will bring true peace – not Pax Romana that was marked by crosses for the rebels and terrorists, but Pax Christi that is marked by the cross of self sacrifice that brings true peace.
The Lord will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore.
Jesus brings this peace not by force, but through peace.
In Jesus, the kingdom that he is proclaiming is deeply connected to the means by which he will bring it in. If the Kingdom of God is a place of peace, freedom and no oppression, it cannot be brought in through violence, manipulation, fear and oppression. You cannot use darkness to bring the light. The ends do not justify the means – the ends and the means are the same.
Martin Luther King Jr. got this from Jesus.
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal…”
Through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder.
Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth.
Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate
Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.
So if Zechariah’s prophesy is a messianic prophesy, and if Jesus is the messiah, why is there not world peace? Or family peace, or inner peace?
I couldn’t help but have Longfellow’s carol ring in my ears as I prepared this sermon.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Longfellow wrote "Christmas Bells" on Christmas day 1864 in the midst of the American Civil War and the news of his son Charles having suffered wounds as a soldier in battle. He had suffered the great loss of his wife two years prior to an accident with fire. His despair in the following years after was recorded in his journal.
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.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
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."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,