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Shepherd – Peace

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; Luke 2:8-20
 
It was an invasion bringing peace. God stepped into history as a man on that holy night in Bethlehem. A war had been waged that traced back to the beginning of time. Peace on earth had been disrupted since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Only God could make a way to rescue humanity from their war-torn existence and restore peace through a Savior.
 
Throughout the Bible, there are some 400 direct references to peace, not to mention a volume of indirect allusions. While there are various words in the original languages of the Bible that refer to peace, the deepest roots stem back to a consequential word known as shalom. Shalom, at its core, means “to be whole” or “complete.”
 
Shalom literally means: “God’s highest and most complete good be upon you and all associated with you.” Thus, the peace of God goes well beyond merely a cozy feeling or even the absence of war; it includes a relational harmony. The peace of God is a full, satisfying, rich, and juicy fruit of His Spirit to His people and creation. Peace is the original order of creation and remains in the heart of God for all His creation.
 
The Bible opens with peace as God creates the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1-2 and closes with peace as God sets the tone for eternity in Revelation 21-22. The great war leading back to restored peace plays out between the first two and final two chapters in the Bible. While God’s plan for peace was in the works since Genesis 3, the moment for heaven to launch the long-awaited mission of the Messiah was targeted on one holy night in Bethlehem.
 
Luke 2:4-20 describes the appointed time when Mary gave birth to the incarnate battle plan named Jesus. Joseph was nearby among the beasts in the barn to help as best he could. The birth announcement was given by the angels to the lowly shepherds in their fields. These social outcasts among the sheep soon would be ready to sound the trumpet that triumph was swaddled and sleeping in a feeding trough. Only God would devise such a plan to bring peace!
 
Jesus Christ was born on purpose for a purpose. A Savior was born on that day in Bethlehem in order to bring about deliverance, redemption, and restoration. The purpose of Christmas was to lead to Good Friday and Easter where the perfect Son of God would wage a holy war on the bondage of sin, the sting of the grave, and the powers of hell. Jesus came into the world to save sinners and to bring God’s peace.
 
This was part of God’s prophesied plan even before the holy night when Christ was born. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed 700 years before the invasion of the incarnation happened when peace would begin to be restored to those who had been living in exiled darkness from the effects of sin for a long time (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7).
 
The cross is where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ made a way for peace to be known and experienced. He came to deliver the peace of God to the world so that the Kingdom of God might be experienced on earth as it is in heaven. The Prince of Peace came to show, deliver, and walk the path to peace. Speaking about what God had accomplished in Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote:
 
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
Ephesians 2:13-17
 
Therefore, may we enjoy and extend the peace of Jesus Christ during these Advent and Christmas seasons. As redeemed agents of peace, may we join our Savior on His redemptive mission as peacemakers in our homes, communities, workplaces, and schools. Our gracious God has worked peace in us, and seeks to work His peace through us to others. The result is the kind of shalom that God desires to reign in the lives of people as His Kingdom comes, and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Pastor Jonathan Haseley