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The Peace of Christmas
by Mark Nickles
12/17/2018 / Bible Studies
Peace. Inner peace. Peace offering. Peace of mind. Peace in our time. At peace with the world. Obviously, the desire for peace is very familiar to us as human beings. We want it in ourselves, our families, our churches, our schools, our communities, and our world. The problem is how to get it, and how to make it last.
One of the reasons that the Christmas season is so rife with hope, is the peace that it brings to mind. Conversely, one of the reasons that the same season brings pronounced hopelessness to so many, is that the peace brought to mind…is never actually realized. The world has readily, even enthusiastically adopted the phrase “Peace on earth, and good will toward men”, while trying to exclude the source of that peace and good will: Jesus Christ.
In the second chapter of Luke, verses 13 and 14, we read, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” This pronouncement was made to some frightened shepherds, and came immediately after an angel had announced the birth of a “Savior”, “Christ the Lord.” It was obvious that it was this Savior who himself would bring this peace.
The Greek word that is used for peace is eirene (pronounced “eye-ray-nay”), and it signifies prosperity (of a spiritual nature), quiet and rest. The truth is an exciting one; Jesus brings quietness and rest to our worried, weary, keyed-up, harried minds, hearts and lives. Potentially, Jesus can bring that peace to every person, family, community and situation. And part of the good news of the Gospel is that it’s not limited to Christmas.
In the course of the 12th and 13th chapters of John, Jesus informed his disciples of his betrayal, Peter’s denial of him, and of his death. It’s not hard to imagine how difficult these truths were to accept, and the pain, worry and fear they brought. However, in chapter 14, Jesus offered hope. Verse 27 reads, “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.” In this passage, the Greek word for peace is, again, eirene. So, once more, we see the promise of the comfort and sense of security the peace of Christ can bring to a soul wracked with fear, worry or despair. Thankfully, though, that’s not the end of it.
In John 19, Jesus is crucified. It must have been like a punch in the gut for his disciples. Oh, they listened to Jesus when he informed them of his coming death, and the events which would lead to it, but it is easy to imagine that they may have thought there was another meaning to it all. Perhaps Jesus was using one more parable, or maybe his death was an analogy for some other deep truth. Nevertheless, they were, at that moment, faced with the awful truth. Jesus was gone, and these men were panicked and without direction. But God’s plan wasn’t complete.
In John 20, “the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews” (v.19). Obviously, it seemed things had gone from bad to worse. And that’s when Jesus showed up. And the first thing he said…? “Peace be with you!” Peace. Eirene. Comfort. Rest. Spiritual prosperity. It may, at first, seem that Jesus was simply using a form of traditional greeting, but it was, and is, so much more than that. His very presence attested to the fact that, for his followers, there need not be any despair, hopelessness or despondency. Jesus has defeated death, itself! He is eternal! And so is the peace he brings to the lives of those who hope and trust in him!
Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time, bursting with the hope of peace on earth, and God’s good will toward those who have trusted in his Son, the Messiah. For those of us who know Jesus, as Savior AND Lord, it reinforces our security, and bolsters our belief in his promises, and our devotion to service in him. For those without him, however, it is a holiday which, in the end, reminds them of the peace that is missing from their lives.
This Christmas, as we give and receive gifts, may we remember the most important gift of all. May we, as the shepherds did in Luke 2:17, “spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child”. In that way, we will have a part in helping others realize the promise of this very special peace on earth.
Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.
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