In U2's song 'Peace on earth' they essentially ask the question why does the song the angels sing at Jesus birth herald him as one who brings peace and yet we do not see peace? It's one of the big questions that we need to answer - the angels sing of peace but where is it? Where U2 and the Christmas cards that proclaims peace on earth go wrong is in expecting everything to change at the stable door.
(10-11) “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people” is what the angels exclaim to the shepherds and that great news is that God’s royal rescuer and ruler is here. But just look at (14)
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
That word favour has popped up before in Luke as the angel talks to Mary and says she has found favour, or grace. Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. The great news is that God in sending Jesus gives us what we don’t deserve, a royal rescuer and ruler who will deliver us from facing justice for our rebellion against God and instead gift us the relationship of God’s sons. Why did Jesus come? Because the only thing he didn’t have in the universe was us.
As Luke will go on to show Jesus heals the sick, rules over nature, raises the dead, and forgives sins all the time giving us a glimpse of peace on earth. In fact a world exactly like U2 want, where the mother doesn’t have to bury her child, where there is no pain, suffering, death, mourning, war, and no crying. Not just the absence of conflict, not just a ceasefire but giving us a glimpse of real peace on earth, but because ultimately he brings peace with God. One flows from the other. And only when the world knows peace with God will it know peace.
Jesus comes as a baby to bring freedom from slavery to self, which the Bible calls sin, and to bring peace with God, he will come again and bring all things under his control, he will come again not as a baby quietly but as the royal rescuer ruler to bring the universe under his authority and there will be peace because justice will be done and he will reign.
As Luke goes on he shows us those who will accept the peace Jesus offers, but he also shows us others who reject Jesus as royal rescuer and ruler. He shows us those that God favours, that God shows grace to and grants peace to but also those who reject his peace and ultimately will face Jesus as ruler without it.
Do you see the action in these verses? Actions that we know so well. So well infact that we can sometimes miss the directors commentary, God telling us what these events mean, why they are important, calling us to respond. But how should I respond to God’s grace?
Just look at the shepherds (20) they respond by “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Perhaps this is a new to you, maybe you’ve never thought of Jesus as anything more than a good man and now I’m saying he is royal rescuer and ruler, and he can bring you peace with God. Maybe you like the shepherds need to take a closer look come.
Did you notice the response of the shepherds when they saw who Jesus was? They tell others and they glorify and praise God. My biggest danger is that I take for granted that Jesus came for me, when I do I lose my edge, I lose my joy. I need to realise afresh what the Shepherds realised and spend my time doing what Mary does “treasures these things and pondered them in her heart” to think on it day by day.