He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. – Micah 5:4-5
What is peace?
Peace is the absence of trouble, tension, disaster and surprise. Peace is the presence of safety, security, contentment and relief. When you are at peace, there’s nothing else you need. You’d like things to stay just as they are. You hope that nothing changes.
Unfortunately, earthly “peace” will always change. Earthly peace is always short-lived. Christmas meals bring some peace, but just hours later you are hungry again. Happy relationships bring peace, but can you guarantee that even for one fleeting year, your solid relationship will never once face discord? Christmas presents bring a little peace, but the very same gadgets that cause a hearty, “Thanks!” are soon broken or forgotten. And how many people ever get everything on their Christmas lists? And even if they did, would they have lasting peace?
For lasting Christmas peace, we look away from earthly stuff and we look to the Good Shepherd, Jesus. “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.” Jesus’ peace is not only for a time. Jesus’ peace is not isolated to one area. Jesus’ peace cannot be overruled. In power and compassion, his greatness reaches everywhere, all the time, penetrating our hearts to the core.
Let’s look especially to the last sentence: “And he will be their peace.” Jesus himself is our peace. Not Christmas meals, relationships or presents, but Jesus. It’s not just that he knows where to find peace, or that he shows us the way to peace – he IS our peace! In Jesus, we stand confidently under God’s favor. In Jesus, we live with the comfort of God’s abiding presence and almighty power. We know exactly what our eternal future will be. Jesus alone provides eternal safety, security, contentment and relief. In him, our peace will never change.
What is peace? Jesus is peace. When you have him, you have it all.
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
This is the season when people try especially hard to be happy. We have parties, gather with the people we love, eat the food we like, and give and receive gifts. It is called “the spirit of Christmas.” But does our rejoicing end with the season?
This is also a time when we hear a lot about peace on earth. But our world doesn’t seem very peaceful, does it?
In our reading for today, the Apostle Paul actually encourages us not just to rejoice but to rejoice always. Crime in the streets… rejoice? Young people dying in foreign wars… rejoice? No job… rejoice? Yes, what we have in Jesus lifts us above all that. All of these things are problems in this sinful world. Jesus lived and died to take us out of this sinful world to be with him in a perfect world forever. But can we rejoice and find peace while we are still here? Again yes, because “the Lord is near.” We don’t have to scratch and claw our way through life grabbing things as if this is all there is. Jesus is with us, and through him we are blessed with God’s favor and the joy of life with God now and forever.
We don’t have to be anxious about anything, either. We know who is in charge of all things, and he has invited us to present our requests to him. We can take our worries and problems to our God in prayer and leave them with him, knowing that he will always answer according to his great love and his eternal will for us. Then, as Paul explains, “The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Our joy and peace are not restricted to the Christmas season. Because of what happened on Christmas, we have peace and can rejoice every day.