Peace on Earth | Peace Triumphs | Luke 2:1-20 & Isaiah 9:2-7
Topic: Gospel Passage: Luke 2:1–2:20, Isaiah 9:2–9:7
Christopher Rich – December 13, 2020
PEACE ON EARTH | ADVENT 2020
Week 3 | Peace Triumphs | Luke 2:1-20 & Isaiah 9:2-7
Introduction | We need Victory
Good Morning! Merry Christmas! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our Advent series PEACE ON EARTH Thank you for joining us! When there is loss and brokenness we need win that overcomes.
Peace (Shalom/Eirene) More than absence of conflict. It is completeness, wholeness. A state in which there is more than nothing clearly wrong but everything being completely right. No imperfections but also perfect.
We instinctively know the difference, even if naively we like to hope when there is no conflict there is peace. Every been in home, marriage, relationship where the “conflict” is quiet but there isn’t joy. Maybe you’ve been on the road trip from hell where you’re in the car together and you’re not saying anything. That is not peace. It’s missing the joyful complexity of a full complete relationship. This presence of conflict and lack of peace is not how things have always been or how God has intended us to be. God created everything and He created it “Good”. The gospel (good news) begins with God making man and women in His image joins them together in marriage, places them in a peaceful Garden. Gives them purpose to cultivate a flourishing world while they enjoy multiplying. God dwells with them. There is wholeness, the is not conflict. This seems like the perfect conditions for lasting peace. Yet a conflict was instigated. An Enemy of God (and Man’s flourishing) came into the garden sowing seeds of doubt about God’s goodness and the consequence of rejecting God leading to darkness. Humanity willingly exchanged the presence of peace for a war of independence rejecting God’s rule, but also the connection to the source of life and wholeness. This is sin. Sin separates. Sin takes peace and brings conflict. It takes out the right relationship between God and His People. Why is peace something so difficult? Sin, evil, brokenness, unnecessary division, lack of joy and wholeness all spring from this conflict. Sin is what robbed us of Shalom and introduced conflict. God comes and engages with this conflict bring both justice, holiness, as well as mercy and grace. He makes a promise. That a savior king will come who will bring both victory over evil and establish a real and lasting peace. After generations come and go each wondering and hoping “Is this it?” only to be disappointed and near defeat. Even God’s voice is silent for 400 years until Peace arrives in Jesus.
PART I |Peace is Born | Luke 2:1-7
Luke 2:1-7 | In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
This happened in History - While stories are valuable to convey ideas, true stories are powerful to explain reality as it is. Truth of setting is important to grasp how this has impacted us. This is not Mordor, Westeros, Gotham, or even a galaxy far far away. This isn’t myth or legend, this is news. This account is rooted in the historical context of real-world events. God’s people are subject to a massive foreign pluralistic empire. Pluralistic in practice, as long as everyone acknowledges the “good news” of Caesar Augustus as the “son of god and prince of peace” Caesar, like most politicians, was enthusiastic about what he could take from his people so he declared a Roman Empire-wide census so he could count up precisely how much money he could/would take. Merely a man hopping to be God, he as worldly rulers are want to do, he seeks to expand his rule and influence expanding his wealth and power. Hope is waning as generations pass. So a Caesar decrees a census to determine how he can better take taxes from his people while God is preparing the greatest gift He can give His people, Himself.
God’s hand is in human history for His purposes. But you have a parallel, our should I say larger story bigger than “current events” going on. God’s BIG story of eternity is over the smaller current story. God used Caesars greed to ensure Jesus’ birth is in Bethlehem, fulfilling another prophecy. This young working-class family moved because of the actions of this big government census. Go home be registered is a MASSIVE upheaval and incredibly disruptive Out of compulsion (no opt out) Mary and Joseph, take this long and arduous journey traveling to Bethlehem. 90 mile journey with a pregnant woman with a mountain pass thrown in from one dumpy town to another. I am sure it was a ton of fun, as anyone who’s taken a road trip with a pregnant woman can attest. The reason Joseph has to go to Bethlehem is because of the family he is a part of. There was a King David who was given a promise of victory who triumphed over the evil Philistines, his reign and Solomon’s were looked back to when things were good, but failed to bring lasting peace and prosperity. God promised one would come from his line who would hold and rule from the throne forever. But not hundreds of years later the Promise of victory but looks like defeat. Not prosperity but poverty. Not freedom but subject to oppression. Joseph might have royal lineage but he’s not enjoying any inheritance. The small town is filled with travelers has no room for them. They are a low priority in the social scene even in an insignificant village. Mary is left give birth in stable. Baby Jesus is born in this global environment of darkness and false hope, literally in a “barn” because the town was full. Jesus is fully Man, helpless baby in the manager. He is wrapped up as normal, but the location is not. The promised King, the savior of God’s people arrival was lowly not laudable, but not without some fanfare.
PART II | Peace is Announced | Luke 2:8-14
Luke 2:8-14 |8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
While the Baby Jesus is sleeping in the manger, in some fields outside of Bethlehem an “angel of the Lord” is preaching the Gospel to poor, unclean, socially marginalized (maybe some with a record) shepherds. These impoverished shepherds running night shift outside “keeping watch” over sheep, are about to receive the Royal Birth Announcement. An Angel of the Lord appears in glory, enough to easily strike great fear in the hearts of this simple men. Now you’re in a dark field and you have overwhelming light come in what a disruption! It is an assault. “Glory all around them” The Glory of God is both inescapable and unavoidable. Seeing the angel, they are rightly terrified. Encountering even a sliver of God’s glory and power is enough to “fill them with great fear”. When God is excited, we should be afraid, because our world is about to change. God’s glory lead to fear as you consider who you are in relation to who he is. The Angel knows their fear and leads with “Fear not.” You do not have to be paralyzed by great fear, but still Marvel (behold) in the “Good News” Gospel. Announcement of triumph of Light over darkness. God’s answer to our great fear is an announcement of good news of the arrival of greater Joy! Joy for who? all people! Fear is turned into joy when you are reminded of the character of God and His mission of peace. Then BOOM the glory dial went up to 11. “Lord of Host” Equals angel armies. And they’re not screaming charge or rallying. They are rejoicing because they know Peace will triumph and evil will be defeated. In the darkness, an angelic choir sings out the brilliant light of God’s glory. They’re singing loudly and boldly God is glorious, the outworking of God’s glory is peace on earth for people who desperately need it. Not who have pleased God but who God has given “favor” too. GOD WINS!! Now THIS looks like victory! Our God is a poetic God and I believe the timing and setting and audience of the announcement is significant. Darkness is shattered by the power of light. By announcing His gift to the shepherds with heavenly army enthusiastically singing of God’s Glory, God is saying to them, “I'm bigger than your society and bigger than the government ruling over you.” As big, mighty, and powerful as God is, this encounter also tells us:
God’s Identity - He has revealed himself not with grandeur but in humility. Jesus is the Savior, He is the King, but he has also come as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes resting in a lowly manger. Glorious God is incarnated in Jesus who is fully God and fully man. The Angels come and in displaying the glory of God, singing of His glory, telling of His mission, reminding them of joy, calming their fears, announcing the birth of the savior in the city of a king, the pivoting of History from the reign of darkness to the kingdom of light in all of this they drill down to the divine identity of Jesus. Savior, Redeemer Messiah who is the LORD “Yahweh” God of the Bible. The savior is also God Almighty. This is the big idea that the entire “Christmas Story” hinges on. Virgin birth, God the creator enters into His creation. “how could he do that?” If there is a creator, then he is incredibly powerful and can accomplish what he set out to do. God doesn’t interact with us in an idea or world view but through a person and that person fully God/Fully man is Jesus.
God is Accessible – For the Shepherds, and us, Jesus is born “unto you”. God has come down from Heaven as the sovereign without splendor to the lowest of people so all could have access to God in the Highest. If God wanted to get his message out in a way that would impress the world quickly He could have had this Angel Army hover over Rome like the ships in Arrival/Independence Day) He could have had Jesus born in to a wealthy influential family seeking to have the most effective impact. But that would have only reinforced the colossal cosmic gap between Almighty God and sinful fallen people. God comes to us. ”. The lowly and the status less so that you could be exalted and glorified. God closes the overwhelming gap between us and Him. God created everything and He entered His creation. Accessible means relatable. Humility comes to view as we think about who we would be in the story. We’ll we wouldn’t be the Caesar or governor. We’d be the small-town working family. When he said to all people, that means racial and socioeconomic divisions will not keep God from His people. Caesar has decreed and accounting and future taking of taxes, God in Jesus is declaring His accessibility as mercy is granted and grace is given.
God Secures Peace Through Sacrifice- Sin has caused an eternal conflict between God and humanity. Peace comes through victory over evil and darkness. Peace comes from restored relationship with God. Peace requires His victory over satan, sin and death. You find joy in God’s glory when you know that peace comes from him. Sign for the Shepherds. This is a sign “for you”. Shepherds know this sign. Bethlehem is just 6 miles from Jerusalem so these shepherds would likely be the ones who would care for sheep that would regularly be offered as a sacrifice for sin. Specifically, each year the High Priest would offer a “spotless lamb (think perfect) lamb as a sacrifice to cover the sins of the people. So for shepherds when a “spotless lamb” was born and identified to be set aside as this sacrificial lamb it was as are taken from the flock and get this… “wrapped in swaddling cloths” and “placed in a manger” for ‘safe keeping” so when they hear there is going to be victory they also see that the cost of victory is a great sacrifice. God’s answer for the conflict of sin is to offer Himself in Jesus (Prince of Peace) so His rebellious people can experience total peace of restored relationship with God. God wants to ensure victory He should send that army of angels into Herod’s garrison, march through Rome and overthrow Caesar. But He doesn’t He sends a child. A helpless baby a pretty bold move, one that appears the type of move you make when your certain of the outcome. Victory and Peace are assured. Peace, satisfaction, and wholeness in Christ because we cannot find it anywhere else. While there is sin in the world our God “sings” of His Glory.
PART | Behind the Music | Isaiah 9:2-7
Isaiah 9:2-7 | 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
Darkness Walking & Dwelling - The situation is dire, and God’s promises seem distant, the world is in darkness of evil and ignorance. But their hope as there is a promised time where light will dawn over this dark place. Where people who have been in darkness will have peace shine upon them. This light comes, dawns, from outside the darkness to penetrate where darkness is. This light will lead to joy as more and more people join this family and nation of light. The anticipation of a great harvest of peace brings happiness as we realize the light coming gives us peaceful life we experience and enjoy. The reason the light brings peace is in what is accomplishes for the people who it shines on. The yoke of burden, the staff we carry on our weary “peace- less” journey, and the rod that wickedly oppresses us, they cannot do that anymore, because they’re broken. Army of evil has been both defeated and the memory of them has been destroyed as the boots of battle and the garments stained from intense conflict are will be discarded, because of the triumph over evil bringing lasting peace. Who does this?
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
The promise of one from women (a man), is repeated, “a child is born, a son given” as a gift to people. But the identity of this man is unique, distinct, and unlike any other. Why? It’s both simple and complex. The Son born is God, Wonderful Counselor, (Wise), Everlasting Father (eternal), Mighty God (Powerful), and what is the official title? Prince of Peace (Shalom) who will have a kingdom that will ever increase, a kingdom that is defined by unending peace. This God the Son will be born from “King David’s” line and He will rule this peaceful kingdom with both justice and righteousness forever. It’s is out of God’s character and nature that He would answer this cosmic conflict as the God of Angel Armies (Lord of Hosts) with victory to bring peace. This victory means the conflict is over but also the work and life together can begin. This is what was promised to God’s people nearly 2,700 years ago. So they waited… in darkness until the prince arrived. A Son comes from a women in the nation the savior was promised to/from (Israel) from the family of that the king was to be given (line of David). Born of a virgin (full God, fully man) The Christ (Savior King of God’s people) is born, is given. And just in case everyone missed the significance or slept during their OT bible study, the God of Angel Armies announces the arrival of the prince of peace with an Angel Army shining light into a dark night, with Good News for people from every family and nation can experience joy with faith in Jesus. They sing brining glory to God. That God in His glory in Heaven, is bringing Peace to earth and good will as God will again be with His people in Jesus. Jesus is the promised prince of peace.
PART III |Triumphs Response | Luke 2:15-20
Luke 2:15-20 | When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The shepherd’s response to Gospel is an awesome model or for us. After seeing God as big, terrifying, glorious, and mercifully triumphant bringing peace they urgently respond. They seek “with haste” to find and worship Jesus. Then they told Mary what they saw and heard “let us you the significance of what we heard and what is going to happen to this child.”. Imagine being Mary, your son is the savior king of God’s people! Yup, knew that Angel came to me too. Ok, He’s going to triumph over sin for His people. Yup knew that because Joseph was met by an Angel too. Ok. But do you know how? Glory and triumph look like sacrifice and defeat. This child is a spotless (sinless) lamb who will take away the sins of the word. Her response? “treasure these things” and “ponder them” How do we know this? Luke interviewed Mary.
Back to work, back to worship, and back to mission - The Shepherds rejoice in Jesus by spreading the good news. After the excitement meeting the baby Jesus, they go back to work, there is still work to do, telling everyone they know the Gospel. While the shepherds’ job or immediate circumstances didn’t change at all, knowing clearly who God is and what He is doing in Jesus, I have to imagine it gave them more joy in purpose in their work knowing there was more to life than what they saw each day in the fields. Good days, bad days, good government, bad government, team winning, team losing, we can always rejoice in God who offers peace to a world and individuals in conflict. We see this conflict in the décor of Christmas. Lights of Christmas come from understanding what darkness is and battle being waged against it as light shines through. The red of Christmas is Jesus on the cross. The “Christmas spirit” is gifts are given so we remember the Gift of God given in Jesus as a sacrifice for sin.
Jesus brings peace with who he is and what he’s done. Jesus Peace is accomplished by His victory on the cross. He brings peace by His work on the cross, in our place. The conflict with God is over for those who have trusted the work of Jesus in their place. The defeat we deserve was taken by Jesus so we can experience the victory we don’t deserve. No matter how dark things get or appear or how distant God may seem, we can be met by God and moved to mission. He gives us a peace that is not of this world for the purpose of us to know longer fear to have the raging conflict in our hearts settled down, so we can exhale from the anxiousness our troubled thoughts. In Christ we have a peace that is not of this world so we can have peace in the midst of this world while we patiently and hopefully wait for the next world where the triumph of peace is fully realized and experienced. Until then we simply Trust Jesus.