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  • Writer's pictureTim Hemingway

Our Personal Peace-Maker


"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

This morning, I would love to be able to know that today is a truly happy Christmas for each and every one of you. I would love to be able to tell if each of you are filled today, with the kind of great joy the angels spoke of to the shepherds in verse 10 of Luke chapter 2. I would love to be able to detect if every single one of you has the delight today, that flows out of the peace the angelic host proclaimed in verse 14 – ‘peace to those on whom God’s favour rests’.

If you don’t know the kind of joy the angel is speaking of – I mean reallyknow it; not just in the mind, but I mean the experience of it; joy is an experience – then my prayer is you will go away today knowing it;having really experienced it.

The day the angel appeared to the Shepherds was the day Jesus was born.

He said, ‘today…you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’. That was real.

Jesus was a real baby, born on a real day, just like: you are real and just like you were born on a real day. It wasn’t a random day. It was the day God had planned. And because it had to be that day, precise events unfolded to ensure Mary was in just the right place, on that very day.

Which is why, in verse 1 of the chapter, we’re told, ‘in those days – those very days that Mary was pregnant - the Roman Caesar, Caesar Augustus, sent out a decree that the entire Roman world was to be registered’. And in order for that to happen, every individual in the Roman empire had to return to their birth town to register, verse 3 says. Verse 4 says that Joseph went with Mary to register in the town of Bethlehem, also known as the town of David – that is King David of ancient times – because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David. And, it was whilst they were there that, according to verse 6, the time came for Mary to give birth - which she did. Not a day later, not a day sooner than God planned.

Now consider that, according to the prophet Micah - approximately 700 years before Jesus’ birth – it was revealed to him that Bethlehem was the place from which a ruler would come whose, quote, ‘origins are from of old, from ancient times’. That description gives us great confidence that Micah had been given words about no ordinary ruler. He had been given words about a timeless ruler; an ancient ruler. And this ancient ruler would come out of Bethlehem, not out of Jerusalem as you might expect, but out of the little town of David.

The day is not random, the place is not random and so Mary’s arrival at the right place at just the right time is not random either. All it took was the most powerful man in the empire to decide to issue an empire-wide decree – which is not hard to orchestrate if you’re God, and you want your chosen servant in the right place at the right time. All of which is why the angels can say, ‘Today, in the town of David, an ancient ruler is born, who is Jesus’.

An ancient ruler is born, yes. But also, a ‘Saviour’ is born, verse 11 says. On this real day, in this real town, a real saviour is born. A saviour who, according to verse 14, brings peace to people.

What peace is it that people need and which this saviour brings? And, how does he bring it?

James - the apostle, and brother of Jesus - says, anybody who is at peace with the world is an enemy of God. Which is everybody! Everybody prefers peace with the world than peace with God. Which, diabolical preference has put us all at enmity with God. There is no peace between us and him. Any peace a person has in the world is a mirage. It is an illusion. The reality is – and it is real - a relational gulfexists between us and him.

Relational gulfs are particularly painful at Christmas, even where there is no class-difference between the two parties. But between a king and his subject there is a world of difference.

For a subject of the king to prefer the kingship of an other, over and against their own king, is to insult his royal honour. For such an insult there must be a reckoning. They used to call that insult treason in the old days, and it carried the death penalty.

So, it is not only that a relational rift exists, but that that reckoning hangs like a sword of Damocles over the king’s subject who prefers another to their own king. Under such circumstances there can be nopeace.

But what if there were to be a change of heart – a new love kindled in the soul of the king’s subject. A love for the king? Then what? Well, then it would take an agent of peace to broker peace and to pay the reckoning due.

And who better than a ‘prince of peace’ to do that – who better than one who is dear to the king himself? Then there can be peace. Then the anger of the king can be satisfied. Then the king’s subject can be counted a friend of the court and no longer an enemy of the king. In that case, peace can rest on the one who the king favours because of his princely son. That’s what ‘Saviour’ is hinting at here – the one who rescues from the majestic wrath of Almighty God. God who has been infinitely offended by our sinful, deadly preferences.

But, there’s more, the best word of all: not just born on a day, in a town, as a saviour, but ‘born to you’. Born unto you - who have no peace with God – born unto you is a Prince of Peace. Born for you. Given to you. Brought into the world for you. So that, you might have peace with God. So that all your sins might be forgiven and all your rift with God put away. So that you might be counted his friend for the first time in your life.

Listen to Isaiah, 700 years before this first Christmas day, ‘to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and…he will be called wonderful counsellor, mighty God – this child, Jesus: mighty God – Everlasting father, Prince of Peace’.

The angelic words ’born to you’ are the fulfilment of Isaiah’s words 700 years before. But even greater than the improbability of that happening is this: these words are for you.

The prince of peace was born for you. All you have to ask is, how do you receive him as your personal prince of peace? How do you have him work peace between you and youroffended God?

The answer is, the way John tells us in chapter 1 of his gospel, right after introducing Jesus’ birth: ‘he came (that is: born in a manger) to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name (that’s the key), he gave the right to become children of God’.

Therefore, receiving the prince of peace looks like receiving him by faith– believing in his name. By faith, as your very own desperately-needed, perfectly-positioned, precious peace-maker.

Not trying to make peace yourself, but fully relying on him to do the impossible task for you.

When you receive the prince of peace with faith like that, he becomes the one who was born to you and he brings about what your heart desires – namely, peace with your maker-God.

He makes you, as John says, ‘children of God’. From enemy of God to child of God, by faith in the Saviour-God, born to you. It’s not difficult to have peace with God, it is just a miracle of peace-making work undertaken by a baby born to you in Bethlehem, called Jesus, who you receive by faith.

The angel’s not finished. He prompts us again. This time he says, ‘don’t wait for another’. There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved except the name of this child. His name is ‘Messiah’, the angel says. God has anointed this one to be the Saviour, this one to be the prince of peace. This one and no other. Ask the angel if there will be another one, and his word to you will be, ‘the babe in the manger is the Messiah’. He is the anointed one of God. God has chosen him, and him alone, to be the peace-maker. If you defer to another - your self, your priest, your make-shift messiah - you will nothave peace with your God. Make no mistake about it, this one is yourmessiah.

I know that for some of you that is too much of an ask. But, I also know that you know, in your heart of hearts, that you have a problem that is too much of an ask: namely, how will your sins go unpunished. Actions have consequences and you know it, but you soothe your consciences and tell yourself it will be alright in the end. That approach doesn’t deal with the problem, it defers the problem.

Or, you think everyone else should pay for their crimes, but you imagine there will be some way that you don’t have to. That, my friend, is toomuch of an ask.

The angel bids us, via his word to the shepherds, ‘defer the problem no longer’. The prince of peace is not too much of an ask for a problem that is as great as ours is.

The main reason why people don’t receive Jesus, is because of the other thing the angel says Jesus is - namely, he is ‘the Lord’. If he is Saviour, and if he is Messiah, then by necessity he is Lord also. Lord; master - the one who calls the shots. Have him as Saviour and he will shape the rest of your life. This is the role of Jesus that hurts the pride of people most. But I want you to know what kind of ‘lord’ he is. He is not lord of the manner who rules over a subjugated people. He is not a cruel master like the mill owner of old.

He is a loving lord. More loving than any lord could be. He is a lord who shares in your suffering. He is a lord whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

He is a Lord who will be with you every step of the way and sticks even closer than a brother.

He is the Lord that every heart desires – even though they don’t know it. Whose fellowship is sweet and whose care is felt.

He is the one who will relay to you tender promises from your king, andwho will represent you in the kings court all the days of your life.

Evidently, the shepherds had a good reason to be afraid. This realangel, on the day Jesus was born, really appeared to these shepherds, and his appearance was cause for them to fear. This messenger of the holy and mighty God, revealing himself to the Shepherds, was enough for them to fear for their lives.

But the angel didn’t appear to them to take their lives, he appeared to them to deliver to them good news of life – he says so himself in verse 10.

The good news is: ‘a baby has been born who is peace to those who receive him’. If Jesus really is the only anointed of God to make peace between him and us, and if he really did appear on a day, in a town, then the angel is not lying. This Jesus is very good news for us. He is very good news for you.

And the result of the good news is, according to the angel, great joy! The good news causes the ‘great joy’. It causes great joy because, the translation from no peace-with-God to peace-with-God is the most exquisite translation any human being can experience, ever. Whenever it happens, it produces great joy. God’s wrath has been turned away from us negatively, and God’s loving countenance has been turned towards us positively. God is, in every way imaginable, for us now.

How could that not produce in us great joy?

And that is why, I would love to know that today, in this town, you have great joy in your hearts because of the peace of God that passes allunderstanding. Not because of a holiday we call Christmas. Not because of presents and food. But great joy today because of Jesus.

I would love to know that your experience of ‘Jesus in the manger’ is your experience of peace with God, because you have received Jesus as your saviour – your one-in-a-universe peace-maker.

If you have, then you have great joy this morning for all the best reasons.

And if you haven’t then you can know that today, in the town of David a Saviour was born to you.

He bids you receive him, by faith, because he is ready to gift you peace with God this Christmas day.


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