The Peace of Advent

Many Christmas songs talk about “peace,” and rightly so.  The night Jesus was born a new song of peace was recorded: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:13-14). Perhaps the greatest Christmas hymn about “peace” is Henry Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

This famous Christmas carol was based on the poem by Longfellow.  He penned these verses on Christmas Day 1863, when he found out that his son had been wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church during the American Civil War.

The first verse goes like this:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Thousands, if not millions, of angels sang to God’s glory on this night because a little baby would bring peace to earth. But Jesus didn’t come just to bring peace to a hectic life or war-torn countries or tense relationships. He did not even come to simply bring “inner peace” to a father in the dark as to his son’s well-being. If that is all the peace you think Jesus brings, you are missing out on something great.

Jesus came to bring the ultimate peace: peace with our Creator, because we were at war with him because of our sin.The Bible says that we were God’s enemies (Rom. 5:8-10). There is no peace between enemies. But God, our Creator, the one who we have infinitely offended, rebelled against, and declared war upon, came to earth in the form of a baby so that there might be a holy armistice. It was as if God said, “Lay down your arms, my enemies, poor rebels! I will forgive your rebellion and bring you to myself as a friend.” Jesus was born so that one day he might die on a cross so that we might believe in him by faith and have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).

Objective peace with God from the war we have waged with him because of our sin–not mere inner tranquility of heart–is the only thing that can give comfort in the face of lesser wars in the world.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Of peace on earth, good will to men
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

All hope seemed lost when he read of his son’s plight. It is hard to know what kind of peace Longfellow was writing about.  We can, however, cry out with joy that “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep” because of the offering of peace through his Son. You will never be able to face the battles of everyday life until you see that Christ won the greatest battle for you: he has given you peace even though you have recklessly waged war against God. Flee to Christ, Rebel, and enjoy his peace!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Grant says:

    This is one of my favorite Christmas carols, thanks for sharing.


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