Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 29; Revelation 15; Zechariah 11; John 14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:13-14).
“Peace on earth” is an expression often used at this time of year. What do you think the angels meant by this phrase? As I pondered the question, I went to the dictionary. Vocabulary.com defines peace as a stress-free state that comes when there’s no fighting or war; everything co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom. I’d say this is a pretty common understanding of the word peace in the 21st century. I don’t think, however, this is the kind of peace to which the angels were referring in Luke 2. Since sin came into the world and ruined God’s perfect plan, the world has never been free of fighting, war or conflict. In fact, I don’t believe this definition of peace is really achievable on Earth as we know it today.
The next clause of verse 14, “among those with whom he is pleased”, gives us a little more insight. I believe the angels were referring to the peace that comes from knowing Jesus. This peace is the confident assurance that God works all things together according to his divine plan; a comfort that he has every situation under control.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Today’s assigned reading has us in John 14. These three chapters (John 14-17) are often referred to as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse – his guidance to the eleven disciples (sans Judas) after the last supper, before his crucifixion. Jesus was once again trying to prepare them for life without him. The disciples still didn’t completely understand his plan, and it was causing them anxiety. Think about it. These eleven men left everything to follow Jesus, and now he was talking about leaving. How could they be at peace? Can you identify with their fear and unrest? Jesus comforted the disciples with these 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.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Rise, let us go from here (John 14:27-31).
Do you see Jesus’ words of peace? – “…for the prince of this world is coming…he has no hold over me…” Knowing that Jesus has all power over Satan is the source of our confident assurance. Jesus is our peace. As you celebrate this Christmas, I wish you peace. The peace that comes from knowing him as your Savior and Lord.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).