Is our world characterized by peace? According to the angelic host in Luke 2, the birth of Christ brought about “peace on earth” and “goodwill to men.” How do we make sense of this? In this final episode in a three part series, Pastor guides us through the scriptures to examine this peace that changed the world forever that night.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today. You know Christmas comes and Christmas goes, but isn’t it wonderful that the gifts of Christmas continue on throughout the whole year? I want to focus on the words of the angel to the shepherds who were taking care of their flock just outside of Bethlehem.
You know, as a child, I had the responsibility of reading the Christmas story every single time before we opened presents. That was the agreement in the Lutzer household and I used to puzzle by the words of the angel—“Peace on Earth. Good will toward men.” Really? Just listen to the news. It almost seems like a mockery that there is peace on Earth because Jesus Christ came. 2,000 years of conflict and that conflict continues. How do we interpret that particular phrase? Well, before we get there I want to remind you that Jesus Christ did something that no teacher, no guru or anyone else can do and that is He brought us peace with God. He broke down the barrier between us and God and the Bible says “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s the kind of peace that only Jesus Christ was able to establish, but it’s not only peace with God, He brought peace within our souls because He was able to take care of the guilt He was able to help us bear our burdens. Imagine these words: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give onto you. Not as the world gives give I onto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.”
Now, I have to ask you a question. How would those words sound in the mouth of Sigmund Freud, for example, or any psychiatrist or psychologist? “Peace, I leave with you my peace I give to you.” What a statement and Jesus actually is qualified to make that promise. But there’s something else. What does the text say, “Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men.” Now, you know that every Christmas (and we’ve sung it again this Christmas season) we sing “Joy to the World.” What about that last stanza? “He rules the world with peace and joy.” However, that stanza goes, I used to sing that and say to myself, “wait a moment. I don’t see that.” What we must understand is that when Isaac Watts wrote that song he was actually anticipating a day when Jesus Christ would rule over the earth and bring peace to the entire earth. There are many passages in the Old Testament that talk about “the day is coming when the knowledge of the Lord will be over the entire earth like waters cover the sea.” Imagine that. So the day is coming. The promise of Christmas is a real promise and we must hang on to it.
Now yesterday, as I was preparing for this, I saw something in the Scriptures I’d never seen before, even though I had preached on the passage. That sometimes happens. In John 20 the disciples are locked behind doors that have been closed and locked, the Bible says, “for fear of the Jews.” I’m almost thinking that they were sheltering in place for other reasons than many of us did during the Covid crisis. But here’s the point. Jesus appears. He doesn’t have to go through the door. He doesn’t have to open the door because, after all, His body, His molecular structure was able to go through the door. He appears and He says, “Peace be onto you.” Now, I knew that but what I didn’t see before is the text goes on to say, “and again He said to them, ‘Peace be onto you.” He said it twice. He wanted them to make sure that they knew that He was giving them the gift of peace in the midst of fear of the Jews behind locked doors. Where do you find yourself today?—behind a lock door? Maybe even in a hospital room? Maybe with relatives who are not exactly excited about meeting with you, the disappointments of Christmas, the fact that there is fear in our country and in our society? Jesus comes through locked doors and He says to us today—that if you receive me as Savior and the grace that I brought—“Peace be unto you.” So as I leave today, I want you to contemplate that. Take that with you throughout the whole day, alright? Jesus saying, “Peace be unto you.” The world swirling around us, the words of the authoritative Christ, “Peace be onto you.” Be sure to join us again next time, but as for today, as I always say, you just go with God.