Summary: Because of Christmas we have peace with God, peace within, peace with others and we are told to spread the gospel of peace to others.
All I Want for Christmas Is…Peace
Rev. Brian Bill
I want to begin with a Christmas Quiz this morning. I used something similar several years ago but I’ve added some additional questions this time. There are seven of them and I’d like you to use your fingers and count how many right answers you have when we’re all finished. The answers are posted at the end of the sermon (source: ebibleteacher.com).
1. Joseph was born in what town?
D. Green Bay
2. Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
C. Mary’s mom
D. No one
3. What did the innkeeper tell Mary and Joseph?
A. “There is no room in the inn”
B. “I have a stable you can use”
C. None of the above
D. Both of the above
4. How did Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem?
B. Mary rode a donkey and Joseph walked
D. Who knows?
5. The wise men met Jesus in a:
6. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
B. A multitude
C. A whole host
7. What song did the angels sing?
A. “Joy to the world”
B. “Glory to the newborn King”
C. “Glory to God in the highest”
D. None of the above
It’s not easy keeping all the facts straight about Christmas and it’s also not easy to get our faith and our feelings lined up either. Does Christmas really bring joy and peace and forgiveness and hope? According to most studies, this is a season of stress and distress, of sadness not gladness. A group called Mental Health America did a survey to find out what anxieties people have this time of year. The results showed that failing finances, missing a lost loved one and having too much to do were the top stressors. Dateline NBC conducted a scientific poll and found that 41% of us are maxed out this month, rating it right up there with asking the boss for a raise or going to the dentist. Those affected by the mall shootings in Omaha are certainly searching for peace [show picture].
Last week we focused on the joy that only comes from a relationship with Jesus: The gift that was on the way is Jesus who is the only way. This morning our attention is on peace. After the one angel appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:10 announcing “good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” suddenly an entire army of angelic messengers filled the sky with an outpouring of adoration and said in verse 14: “Glory to God in the highest…” While angels do sing in other instances this time they “say” these words of worship. The word “suddenly” means that the heavenly host came unexpectedly.
It’s as if one angel announcing the news was no longer enough. The sky is suddenly filled with a multitude of messengers, a great company of warriors, perhaps more than 100,000 worshipping with the widest and deepest and highest praise possible. They couldn’t help but praise because Savior-Christ-Lord had been born. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that “…angels long to look into these things.” This has the idea of angels “peering into” redemption. These angels were waiting a long time for the birth of the baby and now they bust out with adoration. This doxology was God-centered and glory-focused. Can you imagine how loud this must have been?
Their praise then led them to declare a proclamation of peace: “…and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” While commentators differ on how this should be understood, I prefer this translation: “On earth peace, among men who are the objects of his pleasure.”
We could say it this way: Peace comes to those who praise Him and grace to those who give Him glory. One Greek scholar renders it like this: “Peace among men who are recipients of God’s good pleasure.” Bruce Larson adds: “If you are able to receive what God wants to give, the message of peace is for you.” The highest degree of glory to God is connected with the giving of the Son. It all starts in heaven with God’s perfect plan and it arrives on earth where peace comes to those who personalize the message. It’s available to all but activated only for those who accept Immanuel, for those who believe and receive (see John 1:12).
Notice that peace comes only after praising. We must put God and His glory first and then peace will come. While this is a neat time of the year, there is nothing magical about this season if one does not know the Christ of Christmas. The phrase “Happy Holidays” is meaningless without an acknowledgement of the holiness of God. The precondition for peace is to first praise God for His glory and grace.