Summary: Amidst a world of turmoil and war and sin, Jesus came to bring peace.
Lanier Christian Church
November 25, 2012
God Sent Jesus to Give us Peace
We went to see the movie: "Lincoln" last week. It is the story of a small part of Abraham Lincoln's presidency as he sought to free the slaves. It portrayed briefly the horrors of the Civil War. As a native of Milledgeville, GA, civil war capital of the state of Georgia, it reminded me of the most famous Civil War character to march through my hometown - General Sherman.
It was on November 12, 1864, that Union General William T. Sherman began his destruction and burning of Atlanta. In just a few days he would begin his famous March to the Sea, which included marching through Milledgeville. It was the beginning of the end of the Civil War and by Christmas, Sherman had conquered Savannah and presented it to President Lincoln as a Christmas present. General Sherman said: “I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”
Just this week, war between Israel and Gaza has taken place. It seems there is always a war somewhere. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world of peace? And yet peace seems so elusive.
The Jewish people have a word for peace: “shalom.” People of the Old Testament days used to greet those they regarded as true brothers with the term, "shalom." Shalom means peace. Actually, the root meaning of the word "shalom" means to be “whole, safe and sound.” The idea behind shalom, behind peace, is to be a whole person who is safe and content and satisfied.
Anything that contributes to this wholeness makes for shalom. The presence of shalom makes for relationships that are wonderful-- relationships in which people treat each other with respect and all appreciate the blessings of God.
Anything that stands in the way of healthy relationships disrupts shalom. The absence of shalom makes for war and turmoil and unhappiness.
People know that peace is a necessity. It is a genuine need. We seek after peace because we need peace, and because we all want peace. It is difficult to live in turmoil. In fact, God wants us to have peace.
People seeking after peace is not a new concept. God’s way of giving peace has taken a totally new dimension, however, since the coming of Jesus. Because of Jesus, peace is more than just the absence of war. It is a spiritual and heavenly contentment that is only found in God. As we soon prepare to celebrate Christmas, know this: GOD SENT JESUS TO US TO GIVE US PEACE.
Jesus is the source of peace. If we truly want inward peace, and peace among people, and peace among nations, we must find it in Jesus.
When we read our verses for today we should realize that the people of Israel were not at peace. Today’s story in the New Testament book of Luke happened just months before the birth of Jesus. The Romans occupied the land. The local government was under the control of a Roman puppet king named Herod. So, the Jewish people clung to some of the last words in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:2 which reads: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”
Then for 400 years, God said nothing. And all along God’s people yearned for freedom from darkness. The righteous could look around and see wickedness everywhere. There was corruption in the Roman government. There was corruption in the house of worship and among the Jewish religious leaders.
And so many longed for an end to that darkness and turmoil. They looked for hope in a hopeless world.
And after more than 400 years, finally there was some hope again. God spoke through the priest Zechariah. God promised Zechariah that he would give he and Elizabeth a son, John, who would prepare the way for the Savior that was coming. The father of John the Baptist, the priest, Zechariah, sang these prophetic words at his birth:
76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,