Summary: Jesus said He offered a different peace than the world did. But what kind of peace does the world offer us and how is what Jesus gives better than that?
OPEN: How many of you have ever heard of a singer named Travis Tritt?
Now he’s a famous Country singer, but before he made it big, Tritt spent years playing in small out-of-the-way bars and taverns. He said that (as you might expect) these were dangerous places. His fans were mostly drunks who had a hard time controlling their tempers. Thus… bar fights would break out, and even entertainers were in danger. How did he handle those risky crowds? (He wrote:)
“Just when [bar fights] started getting out of hand, when bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I'd start playing 'Silent Night.'
It could be the middle of July -- I didn't care. Sometimes they'd even start crying, standing there watching me sweat and play Christmas carols."
The singing of a few Christmas carols brought peace to a bunch of drunken men in a tavern. And you know, Christmas Carols can do that, because original Carol promised exactly that: “Peace to men.”
Peace To Men - that was the promise of that first carol.
And without God’s peace, the world can be a very violent place
About 27 years before Jesus was born Rome experienced something unique that history has called Pax Romana = the peace of Rome. Beginning with the reign of Augustine, Emperor of Rome and lasting till about 180 A.D. (a period of 200 years) Rome was at peace.
They had few internal conflicts and their nation rarely went to war.
Their Pax Romana offered something the world hadn’t known for centuries: a nation at peace from war.
But that peace (pax romana) was only yours if you were Roman. If you weren’t Roman, you could have peace with Rome… but it was often a peace enforced at the point of a sword. You did things their way, or there was no peace
And even for the Romans this Pax Romana was a time of violence and uncertainty. During this period MOST of the Emperors of Rome died by assassination.
· One of those emperors – Caligula - was an insane and cruel tyrant who engaged in various drunken parties and orgies.
· Then there was another Emperor named Nero who (some believe) burned Rome to the ground and then blamed the Christians for his deed, sending them to die in the Coliseum to amuse the crowds by their deaths.
· Then there was Titus – an emperor who had once been an infamous General. He was the commander of the Roman army who had the inhabitants of Jerusalem slaughtered and the city demolished in 70 A.D.
This was a time of great national security for Rome.
But it was also a time when people were filled with uncertainty and violence.
There was peace from war in Rome… but there was no real peace within the hearts of men.
So, when the angels sang that the Messiah had come, they were declaring that God was offering something Rome could not give. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."