How often do you hear about people toasting to “world peace” or “peace and goodwill to men” during this time of year? Maybe not often in real life, but certainly in movies! This desire isn’t wrong, after all, for in Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, it is clear that Jesus came to bring peace to the world (2:14). What kind of peace? Our most basic need is peace with God, not peace between nations or families. Because of our rebellion against God, we are at odds with him. We are his enemies. We need to be reconciled to him. The good news of Christmas is that Jesus brings that reconciliation. When reconciliation between God and men happens, other relationships will fall into place.
But we don’t just get peace by gawking over baby Jesus at Christmas. You can’t go to Bethlehem’s manger without going to Jerusalem’s cross. Jesus did not stay in Bethlehem and neither should we. The truth is, no one is offended by baby Jesus. Everyone loves baby Jesus. Who would be offended at a cute new born who coos and yelps and yawns?
What is offensive is that this baby grew up to be a man to live the life I should have lived. What is offensive is that this man absorbed the holy wrath of God as he died the death I should have died. What is offensive is that only by trusting in Christ’s substitutionary work—not my own works—can I have peace with God. That is why God gets “glory in the highest,” as the angels sang, and precisely why I cannot boast before God. O how much Jerusalem’s cross offends! This stomps all over my ego. I need someone to save me? Yes. And God alone has provided the salvation!
At great risk to our small view of God, think about it this way: the Father went to war with Jesus so that we might no longer be at war with him. Jesus, however, did not remain as the Father’s enemy. He was rewarded because of his perfectly obedient life: the Father raised him from the dead. Now all those who are connected to Christ by faith belong to him and the Father, and all of them will live together in perfect peace and harmony forever.
That’s why Jesus was born. That’s what Christmas is all about. Now, that’s something worth toasting to.