December 20/21

Main Text: Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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,to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 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!”

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.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Jesus has come and Jesus will come again!

Luke 2:14 records the angelic announcement,

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.

Jesus came to regular people that were overwhelmed by challenges and difficult circumstances just like we often are.  Here is a real truth: Peace is the antidote to pressure.

 

Pressure when things happen suddenly

Verse 1-3 speaks of a decree that came from Caesar Augustus. Caesar Augustus was the founder of the Roman Empire and it’s first Emperor. This census was a way for the Empire to get a sense of the revenue potential in order to create a budget. Everyone was required to journey to the town that they were originally born in. What tough timing for this young couple that was expecting soon. This was an added stress to them.

 

Pressure when things happen all at once

Few people were actually living in their birth towns. Historians say that the congestion was significant as many journeyed by donkeys for days. In verse 5 we see that Mary went with Joseph. The law only required the male to register on behalf of the entire household. It is speculated that the two of them did not want to separate since she was so close to giving birth. Can you imagine what this young couple was going through?

  • People whispering

  • the unknown plans of God

  • the baby is coming

  • Reputations at stake

  • Caesar makes this decree

  • this difficult journey

Things were really piling up. Peace is the antidote to the pressures of life that build up and cause us to stress out. I wonder how Mary and Joseph were doing with that. Then, verses 6-7 add to their list. We know the phrase, “When it rains it pours”.

  • It was time to give birth.

  • There was no suitable place to stay or give birth.

These were regular people going through extraordinary circumstances. They no doubt struggled for peace like we struggle for peace.

Verse 14 states that on earth there will be peace. There are three different forms of peace that the Scriptures speak of.

 

Peace at conversion

Romans 5:1 says,

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Without Jesus, we are all under God’s wrath. But through faith, we can have peace with God. Peace with God means the absence of animosity, wrath, conflict, and war. We are no longer enemies of God – we are friends of God. We are no longer at war with God- we have made peace with God. The bad news of all of mankind being born with a spiritual disease of sin only makes the good news of Jesus comprehensible.

You need to have a conversion experience where you make peace with God through faith. Jesus is the solution! The other types of peace will not come until you do this.

 

Peace in covenant

Almost every epistle in the New Testament has the phrase, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

This is peace from God. This type of peace is used to describe a covenant relationship (Romans 1:7). This is a New Testament equivalent to an Old Testament concept. The Old Testament concept is the word, “Shalom”. This kind of peace meant “a complete state of wholeness and well being”. This wholeness and wellbeing comes from living in a covenant relationship with God. This peace comes to His children that choose to live under this awesome covenant of love and grace.

 

Peace full of confidence

Philippians 4:7 tells of the peaceful confidence that Christ’s followers can have if they rejoice, pray with thanksgiving, and refuse to worry: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This is the peace of God. This is the calm assurance that what God is doing is the best. Regardless of what happens, I have something guarding my heart. This kind of confidence can let us off the emotional roller coasters that we find ourselves on. This is protection for the hearts of Christ followers. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”

This means that we are to let the peace of God call the shots. When we allow this peace to rule, nothing can penetrate our hearts. This is so readily available to His followers, and yet so many do not work at this.

Here are some practical ways to pursue peace on every level.

Acceptance

Peace is accelerated by honest acceptance of things as they really are. “I am a sinner” – is the beginning place of acceptance.

Focus

Colossians 3:2 instructs us to, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth”. Isaiah 26:3 gives us this promise, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  Stop thinking about things that will not benefit peace.

Gratitude

Philippians 4:6 encourages believers to take worries to the Lord with prayer and thanksgiving. This will cause God’s peace to flow into our hearts.

We must pursue peace with God, peace from God, and the peace of God. This is done through acceptance, focus, and gratitude. This is powerful during stress and pressure. Peace can be a reality in your life!

Jesus is our peace!

Apply to Life

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS Rhythms

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

Discuss the Message

Read: Luke 2:1-20

In your own words, define the word “peace”.

How is your definition informed by Scripture? How is it informed by culture?

What causes you to lose peace?

How do you see the peace of God on display in the birth narrative of Jesus? In what ways does Christ give you lasting peace?