As we closed the 1st Sunday of Advent post with an excerpt from Luke 2, we begin this post with the same:
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:8-14 ESV)
Peace has been promised by God Almighty, yet in our world, as in the world of the past, peace is ever allusive. Is this an example of a broken or unfulfilled promise of God? Or have we equivocated on the type of peace promised? Let's look at the same record that has been given to us which promises peace.
Not long after the angels praised God at the birth of Christ by proclaiming peace on earth we find this event:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
(Matthew 2:16-18 ESV)
State mandated slaughter of male children under the age of two in the region of and including Bethlehem. Doesn't seem very peaceful to me.
Or how about what Jesus himself told his disciples, about 30 years later, to expect - based on his historical presence in the region of Judea.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
(John 15:18-25 ESV)
And yet, despite the promise of persecution and hatred, he later says,
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:31-33 ESV)
May you have the Peace of the Christ who has overcome the world!