Long ago an angelic chorus announced to a band of shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The occasion, of course, was the birth of Jesus. When the angels ascended into heaven, both the sound of their voices and the glorious brilliance which shone around them dissipated. Their message did not.
The shepherds, like many of us today, struggled with the profound simplicity of their promise. Those far-reaching, never-achieving words, “favor” and “peace,” echoed like hollow rhetoric in their ears. But now the message came, not through prophets or teachers, but through angels.
“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.’“
The validation of the angelic message slept, as only babies sleep, in a manger.
Prince of Peace
Look around! Can you see it? Feel it? Hear it in the air? This message of peace for all the people?
While tornados rip apart communities, homes, and families, where do we find peace? We silently watch as military giants set siege to defenseless nations and ask again, “How will peace be found?” Floods destroy. Fires consume. Addictions devastate. Yet, God’s Word echoes eternally,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those o whom his favor rests.”
Peace, illusive peace, embodied the paramount blessing Israel looked for with the coming Messiah. The shepherds, like us, desired this state of tranquility, freedom from civil disturbance, security and order, as well as harmony in personal relationships.
The peace which God offered reached beyond the natural realms. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to extend peace within, dispelling confusion and discord, first in the hidden recesses of hearts and minds.
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government
and peace there will be no end . . .”
My heart longs for such good news, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace!”
Peace and Hope
Hope within the humble band of shepherds latched on to these words! Hope of peace spurred them into the streets of Bethlehem until they found Him.
When they looked into the face of the Christ Child, what did they see? Did they recognize the Holy Lamb of God who would pay a horrific price for their peace? This Gospel of peace declared first to them, would one day echo through the hills of Galilea, and eventually reach even us!
The message reached me when I was over twenty years old — my mind filled with confusion — suicidal and broken. As broken as the family, my internal peacelessness helped to break. Lost and without hope. Needing a Savior, I didn’t know. A Redeemer. An Advocate.
In a last ditch effort to take my life, He came to my ditch. He offered what no man could offer. He gave what no human could give. Peace with God! The peace of God.
In a single moment, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, not the Baby in a manger, but rather the glorified Lord, reached down to me, the worst of sinners, granting indescribable peace. Faith arose. Knowledge of Jesus bearing the sins of the world, even my sins, burst through disillusionment and despair. I believed Jesus died for my sins and was bruised for my iniquities to arise from the grave three days, all to give life. I knew in that instant the offer extended to me, to you, to all . . .
Not through angels, but Holy Spirit breathed words,
“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.”
The most common Old Testament word translated into “peace” is shalom. It embodies a sense of wholeness, soundness, health, well-being, and prosperity.
Though none of these immediately became outwardly evident, inwardly my heart filled with shalom! Why? God, the Author and giver of peace became my peace.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
When we experience peace with God, nothing and no one can rob us! The peace and hope flowing from Him surpasses anything. Vertical peace — peace with God — inevitably becomes horizontal peace — peace with others. The evidence of internal peace expressed to others resounds the loudest,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rest.”
Let Peace Rule
Paul wrote to the church in Colosse,
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
God grants peace to us, but we cooperate by letting His peace work and rule through us. With me, it is impossible. But God makes a way through His indwelling Spirit!
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
Jesus intends for the enduring “greatness of his government and peace” to operate consistently and continuously through us as we surrender the control of our minds (and hearts) to Him.
As we follow the path of peace, we ultimately follow the way of God, yielding our minds and motives to Him and purpose.
Jesus knew how much we would need to live at peace within an unpeaceful world. Three times after His ressurection, He says, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, 21, 26) Co-incidence? Not at all!
On Earth Peace
This earth, the broken, aching world, knows no peace. But it longs for it!
Our neighbors and communities, our friends and our families wait as the shepherds waited. They wait for someone, anyone, to bring them “good news that will cause great joy for all.”
God strategically places you and me to be His voices to herald the Good News, sharing the message of peace to those around us. Peace, perhaps greater than anything else, remains the most desired gift of this and every generation.
“When they had seen him (Jesus), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
When we see Him, we want to tell others about Him!
May we all follow the example of the shepherds, spreading the Good News. Jesus makes Himself as available to all people as He was to the shepherds long ago. May the message of peace and hope be loudly and broadly proclaimed, not just at Christmas, but every day.
“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons (and daughters) of men.”
Luke 2:14 TPT