Yesterday was Easter Sunday and I trust everyone had a wonderful time of celebrating the most momentous event in world history. As my thoughts and meditations were focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, I recalled something that occurred to me last Christmas. Certainly, I’m not the first to notice that these two holidays and what they celebrate are inextricably linked; but while listening to a Christmas sermon this past December, something hit me that I’d never seen before.
Much of what we see and hear at Christmas has been adopted, and therefore corrupted, by a world that’s growing increasingly bitter to the full message of Jesus Christ. It’s not unusual, during the Christmas season, to see banners and billboards with phrases like “Joy To The World,” and “Peace on Earth.” No doubt, a world that is otherwise hostile to the message and purpose of Jesus Christ, can easily embrace calls for peace on earth. But the problem with that is the angels aren’t calling for peace on earth, they are announcing it.
The phrase, “Peace on Earth” comes from Luke 2:14, where we find the multitude of the heavenly hosts saying, “Glory to God in the Highest. Peace on earth, good will toward men.” This, of course, is how the King James says it, but perhaps a better translation, may be found in the NASB. It reads, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Considering this proclamation, there are two questions we should ask. What is the nature of this peace? And, for whom is this peace intended?
Easter provides the answer to these questions, especially as explained by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome. Romans 4:25 says, “He [Jesus] was delivered over because of our transgressions, and He was raised because of our justification.” This tells us that this child, proclaimed and celebrated by the angels, was betrayed and nailed to the cross as payment for our sins; and, He was triumphantly raised from the dead as proof positive that God had accepted this sacrifice. This was God’s intention from the beginning. His Son would atone for the sins of those who would then stand before Him justified. But Paul doesn’t stop there. Continuing into chapter 5, he goes on:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have d obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:1–2, NASB).
The peace that the angels announced on that starry night is not peace among neighbors or nations. Nor is it peace among social and political rivals. It is peace with God bought and paid for by the blood of the baby in the manger. Peace that was broken by the tragedy of sin. This peace brings eternal joy. And those, who by Christ’s sacrifice, stand justified before God share in this deep and satisfying joy. However, there are many who willfully reject the saving work of Christ; and for them, the temporal joy of presents, bunnies and baskets represents the only joy these holidays can possibly bring.
Christ’s resurrection is cause for celebration 365 days a year! As we celebrate let’s not be shy about telling the full story of Christ to those for whom this life stands to be the best life they will ever know.