I turned the computer on this morning and took a long look at the background picture my son had downloaded a few days ago, a full Revolutionary War scene, in keeping with the American history unit study that we just finished. (I used the “snipping tool” to upload just a portion of it for you to see. There is more.) At first, it seemed incongruous for the Christmas season, when we celebrate “peace on Earth, good will to men.”
Yet it struck me that Jesus, even lying as a baby in the manger or nestled in Mary’s arms, did not come to be a wimp or even a total pacifist. He came to make war.
Huh? War? Yes, he came to make war on the enemies of sin and death to bring us peace and life and liberty. By his own birth into human flesh, his perfect life, his sacrificial death on the cross, and his resurrection from the grave, he battled our mortal enemy to win the victory. A bloody battle, to be sure. His weapons? Love and justice!
Did he really win? It might not seem like it. People still die. People still sin. There is still war and conflict all over the globe. Yet those who trust in him have the hope of eternal life and of inward peace. Our bodies will die, but this earthly life is just a blink of an eye compared to everlasting and perfect life in his presence in Heaven. And his Holy Spirit can indwell our hearts to bring us progressive victory over sin as we trust in his power and not our own efforts. That is true liberty. Since he has suffered the punishment for our sins, we can now, by faith, have peace with God instead of the wrath we deserved. And as we practice living like Jesus did, we learn to make peace and do justice with those around us. He is the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor who guides us in life. That is amazing grace!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
He came once as a baby. That’s what we celebrate during the Christmas season — his Advent, his coming. But someday he will return as mighty and glorious King of Kings who vanquishes the enemy forever. For those who have followed him by faith, there will be no more sin, death, sickness, pain or despair. Not the least little hint! Instead, there will be complete peace, purity, hope, joy, beauty, life, light, and love.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 19:11-14
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7
How can we claim these promises for ourselves? It is a matter of repenting (confessing and turning away from our sin), trusting completely in him to forgive and save us, and giving our hearts to him so he can bring them from spiritual death to life, fill us with all good things, and lead us in his ways.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, n order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:1-10
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11
Thank you, Jesus, for making war on my sin so I could have peace with you! Thank you for coming to Earth in human form to be “God with us”! Thank you for your love and grace, that you pursue us even as we are running away from you, to reconcile us forever.
Christmas love, joy and peace to you and yours,