“The Promise of Peace”

We continue in our Advent sermon series on the Promises from God. Advent is the season that prepares us to celebrate the coming of Jesus, by helping us to focus on the four themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. The Christian Church has traditionally seen these themes as the true gifts of Christmas that come from the arrival of Jesus Christ in the form of a baby in a manger. Last week, we took a look at the first theme of hope. We discovered a man named Simeon, who had faithfully waited on the arrival of the promised Savior. We learned that our waiting is not an idle laziness, but rather it is an active preparation that is filled with hope. Today, we are turning our attention to the second theme of Advent, which is peace.

I am not much for shopping during the holiday season because of the emphasis on consumerism. 

However, a few years ago while visiting a friend in Maryland, she convinced me to go shopping with her at 6am on Black Friday, with the rest of America apparently. We waited in a line almost a mile long for what seemed like an eternity for the doors of Kohls to open. Finally, the time came, and the doors were opened. It was a mad dash and things escalated quickly. Suddenly, there was shouting and shoving up and down the isles. What started out as an adventure with my friend turned into a retreat to safety. This was not an isolated incident; this same scenario plays out all over America each year and to an even more violent degree sometimes.

How is it that juxtaposed to the joy and peace of the Christmas season we so often see the anger and frustration of the human spirit? The concept of Christmas is supposed to bring peace to every individual and every family, but too often, conflict resides.

Much of the Bible is written by people who also found themselves in the midst of conflict and struggle. In fact, we have discovered by reading the Old Testament that it is a story of the people of God who were under siege by surrounding nations, exiled to foreign countries, or enslaved to powerful empires. The Old Testament writers often were crying out for God to bring them peace. One of the prophetic promises in the book of Isaiah addressed the need for a new leader who would come and be the “prince of peace.” 

They believed that God was faithful and that He always kept His promises, and so they eagerly waited for God to send rescue. Isaiah 9:6–7.

“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.”

The promise of God that is penned by Isaiah is for a coming ruler who would usher in a new government that will have no end. No wonder the Israelites were looking for a nation overthrowing, mighty ruler as their Messiah. However, they missed where the emphasis of this verse really lies. There will be a child who is born, a son, who will be a wonderful counselor, a mighty God, an everlasting father, and a prince of peace. This was not the reality at the time of its writing, but it offers hope and peace to the Jewish people and reminds them that God has not forgotten about them.

It is no secret that we live in a time where there is little peace around us. We can watch the news for just a few minutes and see that all around the world there is struggle and pain. We see it in the lack of water and food in far-off countries. We see it in the unrest in our country. We see it in global pandemics and wars. Sometimes we see it closer to home in our own families when people are at odds with one another. It is a reminder that we live in a broken world. 

Whether far or near, we can relate to the people of God’s desire for there to be one who would rule over all and bring order to the chaos and healing to the brokenness.

So, if we are honest, we long to see peace come to the world and we long to see God fulfill His promise of one who will rule with love and compassion. Hundreds of years later, the promise comes to pass. The first people to hear about it were a bit of a surprise.

In a field outside of Bethlehem, there was a group of shepherds who were watching their flocks of sheep during the night. 

Now typically, when we think about the shepherds in the Christmas story, we think about cute little children with a staff and a towel wrapped around their heads. 

The shepherds of the ancient Near East were anything but cute. Shepherds were seen as some of the lowest of the low in Jewish society. They were a nomadic group who would live off-grid and travel to find pasture for their sheep to graze in. They were single young men without children. They were not clean. They probably did not smell good. They were a blue-collar crowd who worked hard and long to earn a living. They were considered second-class and untrustworthy. And yet, these were the first people to hear the birth announcement of the long-awaited one.



There is a sense from the very beginning of this Christmas story that the hope, peace, joy, and love that arrive with the birth of Christ is not just for the powerful and perfected. The child who is born is for everybody everywhere. The peace that will come with His leadership and rule is not for the ones who are already in power, but for the ones who are scratching and clawing just to make it another day. If you don’t feel like you are worthy of the peace that is found in Jesus, just know you are in good company. This message of peace is for you.

An angel of the Lord appears to these men out in the fields. Their first response was absolute terror. They were fearful because the glory of the Lord shone around them in the dead of night. It must have been an overwhelming experience. But look at the first words that were spoken to them: “Do not be afraid.”

The first words spoken over the shepherds, and I believe over us today, are words of peace: Do not be afraid. Though you may be facing a painful situation, 

Do not be afraid.

You may be facing an unfavorable diagnosis; 

Do not be afraid.

You may be struggling to restore a relationship; 

Do not be afraid.

You may be anxious about the circumstances that swirl all around you; 

Do not be afraid.

Here is why—

the angel says that he brings good news of great joy for all people.

I always get anxious whenever someone comes to me and says, “I have good news and bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?” 

I always want to answer: I only want one of them, the good news. But, because I usually don’t have a choice, I want the good news last. When I have good news to hang onto, I know that there is still hope. Maybe you could use some good news today because your spirit does not know peace. In the arrival of Jesus Christ, we are given good news. 

The good news is this: 

you have not been forgotten by God. 

In fact, He has come to be with you in the midst of your struggle. He was born in the city of David, and He is the Messiah and the Lord. He is in charge. He is King. He is the one you have been waiting for.



The peace that Jesus brings into our lives is not necessarily the absence of trouble, but instead it is the confidence that we are not alone. The kind of peace that comes with the fulfilled promise of old looks different from what we may have expected. Most think that peace will come when the trouble is removed. That peace will happen when Christ returns again. For now, God promises true peace in the midst of the chaos. God asks us to recognize that peace is not about our circumstances, it is about the One who is faithful to walk with us through even the most difficult times. For those of us who live on the coast of Maine we have seen this type of peace on a blustery day. 

The sky is dark, the wind howls, the ocean swirls white caps, and yet, the seagull gently glides through it all, undeterred by the storm around it. We need to take our eyes off the circumstances and put them on Jesus, the Prince of Peace. 

That first Christmas morning, the angels bring good news. A child has been born in the town of David, and He will be a better king who will rule and bring peace. Luke was borrowing from the prophetic promise in Isaiah and keying in on a time when the nation of Israel knew peace. The angel was referring to a time when David was king. You might call it “the good ole days.” This was a time that every Israelite wanted to see as a reality once again.

This time, however, it would be even better than David. 

This time the baby who would be found wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger was the God of the universe, who had moved into the neighborhood to live among them. The peace would not come from a mortal man, but from the divine. As soon as this announcement was made, the good news inspired a song. Luke 2:13–14

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The song ends by saying that peace will come to those on whom God’s favor rests. So, you want to know peace? Then you must receive God’s favor.



The story of the Bible reveals that the most important place where we need to experience peace is not within the relationships and circumstances around us. The greatest need for peace is between us and a Holy God. The book of Romans tells us that the rule that governs over us most is the rule of sin, and it stirs chaos and conflict within us. Romans 8:6–7.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

When we find ourselves lost in sin, our spirits are at odds with God. We don’t submit to Him and we won’t submit to Him because we think we know better. 

Isn’t this the headwaters of every conflict that we face? Are we not at war with one another and harming one another because, in the end, we think we know what is best?

You see, the birth of this promised king is the coming of a new rule for the entire world, and that rule begins inside each and every one of our hearts. This baby grew up to be a man who offered Himself on the cross as atonement for our sins. The peace that we find at Christmas comes from submitting to the leadership of Jesus Christ. It reorients our hearts, and it makes us friends of God. So, though the world may be in chaos around us, we find a comfort and a confidence in knowing that we have been made right with God through the blood of Jesus and that He is with us. His presence in our lives brings us peace.

Maybe today we recognize that when there is no peace in our hearts it is because we have not made peace with God. That peace is available to everyone, today. Because of God’s grace, we can, in faith, trust Jesus with all parts of our lives. I want to invite you to pray this prayer today and know the peace of God.

Let’s pray,

“Jesus, I am in need of the peace that you so freely offer. I want you to come and rule in my life. I confess that I have sinned and have at times been at odds with you. Forgive me and allow me to receive the favor that comes by your grace. Make me an agent of peace in the world, and may my life reflect your love.”