Tonight we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus. We read in the Bible…
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth PEACE…
God gives this precious gift of His Son… as a baby… and this baby will bring glory to God, and will bring PEACE on the earth. If Jesus was supposed to have brought peace on the earth – well some would say, he didn’t do very well did He? Look at the world today – it’s hardly a peaceful place!
Did you know that in the over 3500 years of recorded history – that historians can only find 286 years all up where there was no recorded war or conflict somewhere on the face of the earth. Less that 8% of world history. Even in those years, there was probably still skirmishes or fights somewhere on earth. This world has never been a peaceful place!
So how on earth is a baby supposed to bring peace? Talking to the parents out there tonight – especially to those with newborns… generally speaking… the words baby and ‘peace’ are mutually exclusive! You don’t tend to find them together.
How does a baby bring peace?
Someone once said ‘When we pray to God for TREES, and He answers us with SEEDS’. It’s easy for us to miss the power of a seed when it doesn’t immediately look like the tree. Has anyone noticed that the seeds you buy in packets from the store – don’t look like what they’re going to grow into? You don’t plant little corns into the ground and get big corns! You don’t plant little bonsai oak trees that grow into big ones. You plant seeds – you start with something that doesn’t bear any resemblance to what it will produce. But it grows and develops and over time it becomes the thing.
Tonight we’re celebrating an event that happened over 2000 years ago. In the middle of nowhere. With hardly anyone watching. And no methods of mass communication.
The world was crying out for peace – and God sent a baby who would BRING PEACE. We celebrate and remember tonight not just that baby who was destined to bring peace but the man that baby became.
The one who died on a cross to reunite God and man.
Many people today are looking to the government or to human leaders to bring peace, to pass good laws, make sure justice is done swiftly, make sure that bad people are punished and that good people are left alone… then we will have peace.
It was much the same 2000 years ago. When Jesus was around people said to him – be that leader that we’re looking for. Take charge and make our lives better… bring peace into the world!
Jesus did bring PEACE – but not in the form that the world was expecting. They wanted peace externally – peace in the visible world – peace between people. That’s God’s objective – that’s like the TREE. But God gave us the SEED. Jesus’ death was designed for something far more important…peace internally – in our hearts.
There’s a song that sometimes gets sung at Christmas – ‘Let there be peace on earth… and let it begin with me’. I think that song has hit the nail on the head. You can’t truly experience peace externally until you’ve experienced it internally. Someone once said, you can’t run from that which runs inside of you. Jesus has a plan to bring peace on the earth – but instead of starting with the ‘tree’ of the world out there… he’s starting with the ‘seed’… with YOU and with ME.
As Christians, the reason that we celebrate Christmas is that 2000 years ago a baby was born, who grew, and gave his life to bring us peace, hope, life, forgiveness and joy in our hearts, and through us to change the world for good. God’s gift to us comes as a baby… as a seed. But if we accept his gift, that seed will begin to grow in our hearts and peace is one of the things that will result.
How do we accept this gift? The same way as we receive any gift… by taking it and saying thankyou. God wants his peace to cover your life… and then through your life to be a blessing to your family, your friends, your workplace… your world. The great thing is that we don’t just have to talk about His peace tonight… but we can actually receive it into our hearts.
So I’m going to pray tonight – and if you want, you can repeat the prayer after me… and together we can receive this wonderful gift of God’s peace into our hearts and lives.
From my family to yours, from this house to your house – I wish you a fantastic, joy-filled, and wonderfully PEACE-filled Christmas.