Summary: The angels proclaimed it, Jesus promised it, and we earnestly seek it but the world doesn't know it - peace - the promise of Christmas.
No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:8–14, NIV)
Now it’s true, those are very familiar verses to us, and in churches and homes around the world, those same verses will be read countless times this season – and with good reason - for the angel brought good news that would result in great joy for all the people. As I read those verses again myself earlier this week, what struck me in particular, was the promise of peace. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” This was the proclamation, the testimony, the promise the angels sang forth that night. But what really strikes me today is the disparity, between the peace that we are promised, and the absence of that same peace, in so many lives.
“We live in a very tense, uptight, and fast-paced world filled with hurry. A Tahoma, Washington newspaper carried the story of Tattoo, the basset hound, a while back. Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive – with Tattoo still outside the vehicle - he had no choice. Motorcycle officer Terry Filbert notice a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it. He commented that the poor basset hound was, “picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could.” He chased the car to a stop, and Tattoo was rescued. But not before the dog had reached a top speed of 25 miles per hour, falling down and rolling over several times.
[Folks,] Too many of us are living our lives like Tattoo, picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can – rolling around & feeling dragged through life.” (James Botts, The Crossing Community Church, in "Rest For The Stressed." www.sermoncentral.com)
Looking ahead to His crucifixion Jesus spoke these profound words to His disciples, saying, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV) But so many hearts are troubled, and so many others do live in fear. And so we hear the promise of peace, but wonder at the lack of it in our own lives.
Peace. We desire it as a covering for every aspect of our lives, don’t we? We seek it in our relationships. We long for it amidst the turmoil of each day. We cry out to God with our prayers that the world itself may be delivered from the ravages and horror of war. And on and on it goes with our heart cry being a cry for peace. And these desires are nothing new. Long before the time of Christ, the prophet Isaiah, referred to the promised Messiah, as the “Prince of Peace.” And when the angels proclaimed the birth of the Savior that night so long ago, they were really heralding the arrival of Isaiah’s, “Prince of Peace” – the long expected Messiah; He who would come to set His people free; He who would come with the promise of peace. And yet today the world knows very little of this peace that has been proclaimed.
Would you open your Bibles with me this morning, please, to the book of Psalms. Our Scripture passage is found in Psalm 85 and we’ll read verses 6-13 together today.
The psalmist writes these words, crying out to God and saying, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the LORD says; He promises peace to His people, His faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before Him and prepares the way for His steps.” (Psalm 85:6–13, NIV)