Monday, December 26, 2016

Peace on Earth Maybe

Peace on Earth Maybe
December 26, 2016
Matthew 10:34  "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

As Christmas is slowly behind us, let us take a moment to reflect on how filled with peace we were during this holiday season. If you were like me, it went 90 miles an hour and will only slow down when it gets back into the groove of a normal routine. Sure, you've heard the messages about making sure Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, the Savior.  Christmas is supposed to be filled with peace on earth and goodwill toward men.  Ironically, the birth of Jesus was anything but during a time of peace.  There was nothing about peace in or around his birth story.  Recall that Mary was traveling during the days leading up to the birth, on a donkey, on her way to simply be counted for a census, during a time of infanticide, when the ruler of the land had heard about a Savior coming and wanted to kill him and was in fact killing babies looking for Him.  The truth of the story is that a dispatch of soldiers was sent to find the baby Jesus and kill Him.  How do you think Mary felt, knowing people wanted her baby dead even before He had a chance to come into the world?

But again, what about peace on earth and goodwill toward men?  Surely, it was foretold Jesus would come to bring peace.  The gravity of Scripture is that Jesus came only to bring peace in our hearts, being able to have reconciliation with the Lord from our sins, but not until after Jesus was slaughtered on the cross.  That was anything but peace.  In fact, if you asked Jesus directly, He admitted He did not come for peace.  He said He came only to bring the sword of division.  Jesus was not born during a time of peace, He did not intend to bring peace, and was murdered so that one day in Heaven their might be peace in our hearts.  So again, why do we think Christmas is about peace on earth and goodwill toward men?

Scripture never says anything about peace on earth and goodwill toward all mankind.  Where did they come from? Perhaps it is a quote from a Christmas poem written in 1836 by Henry Longfellow, where those lines are written.  Perhaps they are from a famous speech given by FDR in 1943.  Perhaps they are an interpretation from a Christmas song, slightly quoted, sung in our churches.  Perhaps they are a loosely translated King James Bible verse.  Or perhaps those words are a misinterpretation of something spoken by the angels during the time of the birth of Jesus.

Recall there were shepherds in the field at night tending their flock. Why were the shepherds tending their flock at night?  Sheep don't graze at night; they sleep.  The shepherds were either fearful of thieves or wolves; they were protecting their flock by night.  Angels appeared to the shepherds and to calm the nerves of shepherds ready to defend their flock, the angels told the shepherds not to be afraid.  But the angels never proclaimed peace to the shepherds, just that they should not be afraid.  During the discourse between the shepherds and the angels, the Heavens opened up and there was a host of angels signing.  But the host of angels never declared peace on earth goodwill toward all mankind.  The angels declared glory to God, the angels declared peace in the hearts of those on whom the Lord's favor rests, but the angels never declared peace on earth or goodwill toward all mankind.

It is not fully understood if the angels were signing about the shepherds, about Mary or Joseph, all men on whom the Lord finds favor, or all men the Lord saves from his own sin.  Take it as you'd like, but it was most likely meant as peace to the shepherds, who instantly suggested afterward that they head out to see the savior who was born.  Those shepherds, who were fearful, were potentially risking their flock, their livelihood to go and find the savior of the world.  If they did find the savior of the world, they risked being killed by the rulers who dispatched the soldiers to kill Jesus once He was found. If they declared there was a savior, they risked their lives, nonetheless they risked it all and loudly proclaimed He came as a baby; the Christ child was here.

It's OK to be busy during Christmas, just not OK to forget what Christmas was and is all about, and not OK to misquote the story of His birth.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Is 9:6, Matt 2:1-23, Luke 2:1-20, John 18:36

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