The well-known carol by Charles Wesley echoes the scene from Luke 2, where angels herald the birth of Jesus with the proclamation of peace on earth. However, amidst ongoing conflict and war, the idea of Jesus’ birth ushering in peace raises questions. Even Jesus’ own statement about bringing division instead of peace in Luke 12:51 adds complexity.
The Expectation of Peace with the Messiah
Anticipation of the Messiah bringing peace stemmed from prophetic promises. The prophets envisioned a time of global harmony, where nations would cease warring and swords would transform into tools for productivity (Isaiah 2:4). This anticipation was deeply rooted in biblical hope.
Jesus’ Contradictory Words
Understanding the biblical promise of peace is crucial in comprehending Jesus’ paradoxical statement about bringing a sword instead of peace (Matthew 10:34-39). He prepared his followers for persecution, not advocating violence but forewarning of the hardships they’d face for their allegiance.
A Nuanced Peace
The proclamation of peace among those favored by God (Luke 2:14) implies a selective peace, existing despite the persistence of evil and violence in the world. Jesus’ reign aims to reconcile diverse peoples, transcending cultural and linguistic barriers (Ephesians 2:14-16).
Living Out Jesus’ Peace
A follower of Jesus embodies peace by forgiving, loving others, blessing persecutors, and practicing virtues outlined in various scriptures. Their lives should reflect the transformation described by Isaiah, where weapons of destruction become tools for productivity.
Peace: A Promise for Believers
Despite skepticism, Jesus assures blessings for the meek, peacemakers, and the persecuted. Peace on earth, both present and eternal, belongs to those who believe, walk in the Spirit, and actively pursue peace.
Remember, you are loved, both by me and by a caring God.