Christmas: Jesus As Our Peace
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Trent GriffithTrent Griffith and his wife Andrea are part of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway speaker team. Trent is the founding senior pastor of Gospel City Church in Granger, Indiana. Prior to planting Gospel City, Trent and Andrea spent 15 years as conference speakers with Life Action Ministries. Trent is a graduate of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. Trent and Andrea have five children and live near South Bend, Indiana.
Could you use some peace in this season of your life? Trent Griffith explains how the birth of Jesus not only paints a picture about the peace of God, but displays how Jesus truly IS our peace.
Christmas: Jesus As Our Peace
Trent: For those of us that embrace the message of Christmas—if you could hear what I hear, if you could behold what I behold, if you would embrace the message of Christmas, if you could hear it through different ears—you know what would happen? The peace of God would supersede your worry, your anger, and your fear as you trust the message of Christmas that peace with God is now possible by faith in Jesus Christ.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife—
Ann: What is your favorite part of the Christmas story in, let’s say, Luke?
Dave: My favorite part, I think, is the angels coming to the shepherds and singing, “Glory to God in the highest.”
Ann: That is mine.
Dave: What?! No way!
Ann: There is something about—
Dave: How do we have the same moment?
Ann: Because we just are so one. [Laughter]
Dave: I guess it is.
Ann: But I’m imagining these shepherds, who are nobodies in the culture, and they have a host of angelic beings praising God—I think they were probably singing—and they witness it and experience it.
Dave: Yes, the whole story is a miracle. I think it’s important, at Christmas, to stop and read the story; and ponder it; and understand it. That’s sort of what we’re going to get to do today. We’re going to listen to Part Two of a message that was a Christmas sermon that our friend, Trent Griffith, gave at his church in Indiana.
Many people know Trent and Andrea Griffith. They are on our staff, now, with FamilyLife; but for years, he was a pastor of Gospel City Church in Granger, Indiana. We’ve known him for decades because they’ve been on the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway speaker team. Every Christmas—just like me as a pastor—he would give a Christmas message. Yesterday, we listened to Part One of that message, where he talked about: “Do you hear what I hear?” Should I sing it? [Singing] “Do you hear what I hear?”—
Ann: I love that song.
Dave: —which is—you know, yesterday was +all about listening to the right messengers. You want to hear from angels, but you hear from shepherds. In many ways, we are called to be shepherds.
Today, we get to go back to Part Two of that message.
Trent: Here is the second thing: if you want to hear the message of Christmas, you have to listen for the right message. Look at verse 14—here is the message of the angel—two things: “‘Glory to God in the highest; and’”—number two—“‘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. When they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” They were faithful messengers.
The message is twofold: first of all, the message is “Glory to God.”
You know the message we want to hear from God?—“Glory to me.” We want the angels to show up and say, “You are so glorious. God is so impressed with you; I mean, look at you. You go to church all the time, and you give money. You are nice to your cat. I mean, you are just so glorious; you are amazing. Oh, don’t feel any conviction over the gaps and flaws in your life; I mean, you’re just wonderful.” That’s not the message.
The message is: “You are not glorious; God is glorious: ‘Glory to God.’” The message of Christmas is not to make much of you; it is to make much of God. The reason for my existence is to bring glory to God.
Here is the second message: “’…on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased.’” Now, how many of you grew up, like me, reading the King James version of the Bible?—and you are just really upset about the fact that it doesn’t say, “Peace on earth; good will to men.”
Where did that go, because that was really good?! I like Goodwill®—it is half-price on Saturday—you can get some really good deals there. [Laughter] If you remove that from the Bible, we’re moving my whole shopping theology here.
So where did that go? Why do we have a different translation here? Listen; let me explain some of this. The phrase, “good will to men,”—not a bad phrase; not a bad phrase—but the better manuscripts and the better translation is: “peace among those with whom He is pleased.” The reality is God is not pleased with everyone. As a matter of fact, without Christ, God is not pleased with anyone.
Here is the story of the Bible; okay? And here is why this good news brings great joy: up until this point in human history, there was no peace with God. There was fighting between heaven and earth by our sin; we had declared war on God. As a result, God was unable to get pleasure from my life. The reason He created me was for His glory and for His pleasure. Outside of Christ, I have no peace; and God gets no pleasure from my life. And yet, the angel announced, “Glory to God; peace on earth.”
This word, “peace,”—we don’t really grasp it in our English language—we think of peace as being/watching a nice snow fall with a nice fireplace; it’s just such a peaceful environment. Some of you would say, “Well, peace; that is the absence of conflict or the absence of war.” It’s really much deeper than that. In the Old Testament, the word, “peace,” was the word, shalom. Everybody was waiting for the shalom to happen; everybody understood there is a gap between heaven and earth. The relationship between God and man has been broken, and the gap was the absence of shalom. Really, the word, “peace,” in the Old Testament, and even here in the New, peace means wholeness or completeness; it means unbroken.
In the Old Testament, in the book of Job, it is used of a flock of sheep, where none of the sheep were missing. But if a sheep went astray, there was no peace in the flock: it was a broken flock; it was an incomplete flock. It’s also used of a wall that is not missing pieces of brick—it has no gaps in its integrity—it’s a peaceful wall; it’s a complete wall.
So when we see the angel use the word, “peace,” what he is saying is: complete, whole, repaired, restored; in other words, the coming of Jesus was going to bring shalom—fill in the gap, fill in the crack, cause peace between two warring parties—God and man.
Do you ever fight?—do you ever fight in your marriage? Andrea and I had a good fight last week. I won’t tell you who won. [Laughter] There is shalom now; everybody, it’s okay. But do you ever fight? Maybe, a better way to say that is: “Do your kids ever fight? Do they ever fight with you?” “Do nations ever fight?” “Do you see all the fighting in the world? Do you know what that is evidence of?” If you are an atheist, you have to agree there is a lot of fighting that goes on. As Christians, we understand that fighting with each other is evidence that we are fighting with God.
Do you ever worry? Do you know what that is?—that is an evidence you are fighting with God; you are fighting to control things that are outside of your control. You worry about things that only God can fix; that is an evidence of fighting with God.
Do you ever get angry?—do you ever get angry with God? You don’t like the way things are going in your life—low in the bank account, health report—ou want to kind of ball up your fist and say, “God, if You are God, then You need to fix this right now.” It creates a gap: there is no peace; there is no shalom in your relationship.
For those of us, who embrace the message of Christmas—if you could hear what I hear, if you could behold what I behold, if you would embrace the message of Christmas, if you could hear it through different ears—you know what would happen? The peace of God would supersede your worry, your anger, and your fear as you trust the message of Christmas: that peace with God is now possible by faith in Jesus Christ.
You say, “I want some of that. How do I get me some of that peace?!” Peace is not something that is achieved; peace is something that has happened. Notice what it says in verse 15—do you see it?—the [shepherds] say, “Let us go see this thing that has happened.” What has happened?—God has sent a Savior into the world so that, for the first time in human history, there can be peace with God and man.
Do you have peace with God?—just because you’ve stopped throwing punches at God, doesn’t necessarily mean there is peace with you and God. If there is something that feels like it’s missing in the relationship between you and God, that missing piece is Christ. He is the mediator between God and men; that’s the message of Christmas. We want glory; we want God to make much of us. God gives us shalom, peace with God.
Dave: We are listening to Trent Griffith give a Christmas sermon at his church. Boy, oh, boy; that is a word for the world right now; isn’t it?—peace.
Ann: That’s what I was thinking; yes—peace on earth—and that is what we are all longing for, really.
Dave: Yes; and I think it’s like what Trent is getting into—you can’t have peace on earth if you don’t have peace inside—it starts here. I mean, I have to have peace in my heart to be able to extend peace to my neighbor; and Jesus is our peace.
Ann: That is what I was going to say. Peace only comes because of and with Jesus.
Dave: That is the message of Christmas.
That was just Part One; we get to go back and listen to the rest of this sermon by Trent. I’m telling you what: this is going to help Christmas be a little bit better.
Trent: Here is the last thing: if you want to hear the message of Christmas, then you have to listen with the right heart. Look at verse 18: “And all who heard it”—they heard the message: “Do you hear what I hear?”—“all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” So verse 18 tells us about this group of people. I don’t know if it was the town’s people in Bethlehem; but the shepherds went, and they published the good news. Everybody who heard it—there was an emotion; there was a response—the word that is chosen here is the word, “wonder.” Some of your translations may say “amazed.” I mean, it thrilled them; some of them were awestruck.
That reminds me of a lot of people that come to church around Christmastime. They love the wonderful message of Christmas; the music is wonderful; the decorations are wonderful. Some of you will leave church today, and you will shake my hand; you will say, “Pastor Trent, that was a wonderful message,”—at least, I hope a few people might say that occasionally.
But listen, what I really want is, not for you to wonder at the message; at some point, you have to move beyond sentimental wonder to supremely treasure the message of Christmas. Verse 18—all we get are a bunch of people who are like really happy that the shepherds showed up: “Wow! That was a really good story,”—but they are not moved by the message; they are not changed by the message. A lot of people, who show up around Christmastime at church, it’s like they are Christmas schizophrenics. So what it is: we love this message that there is a Savior born at Christmastime; and then you leave, and you don’t live like you need a Savior.
There is one other person in this story; it’s verse 19. What is the first word in
verse 19?—“but”—that is a word of contrast: what we are about to read is different than the first group in verse 18. Verse 19 says, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Underline the word, “treasure”; underline the word, “ponder.” The first group wondered; Mary treasured.
There is a point, which you must move from wonder to treasure. The word, “treasure,” means to value, to cherish. It actually means to memorize, to rehearse. Mary apparently rehearsed these things, over and over, in her heart. We don’t know exactly what was going through her heart; but she must have been thinking, “Savior, Lord, Bethlehem, shepherds, glory, peace: what does all this mean?” They are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; and in her mind, she is treasuring these things and pondering: “Does it fit here?” “Does it fit there?” “Does it fit over here?”
This is what has to happen for a person to grasp/to hear the message of Christmas. Understand it has to move from your head to your heart. She pondered these things—where?—in her heart. It became something that was so cherished and so loved by her; she couldn’t get away from them. These things gripped her heart.
So what was she thinking? Again, we don’t really know; but we do know that, as a young, Jewish girl, she would have been taught, from birth, the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. Maybe, she thought of Ezekiel, Chapter 34. I’m sure you’ve all got that memorized; what’s in Ezekiel 34? It’s a rebuke from God to the shepherds of Israel—so the leaders, the kings, and the priests—those who were supposed to lead and feed the people of God. Do you know what God says?—“You’re not doing your job. You’re not creating peace; you’re creating chaos.”
At that time, Israel was in chaos; and yet, there was this promised peace. Do you know what God says in Ezekiel, Chapter 34? Let me read it to you; He gives them a promise. He says this: “I will set up over them one shepherd”—who is that going to be? It names him: “My servant David.” Hang on; this was written hundreds of years after David was king in Israel. So anybody who read this would have understood that’s figurative language for someone, who is like King David; maybe, he is even a descendant of King David. Maybe, he is even born in the same place David was born. Where was David born?—Bethlehem, the city of David.
“And He shall feed them,”—this one true and great shepherd will feed them—“…He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. I will make with them a covenant of peace,”—shalom.
What was the message that the angels announced? “Glory to God; peace on earth,”—God is fulfilling His promise. Mary must have understood. She must have treasured: “Wait a minute; wait a minute—shepherds showing up—‘Here is My son.” Could it be that this would be the one true shepherd, who was a descendant of David, born in the city of David, who would grow up, not just to be the Great Shepherd; but one day, be treated like a sheep?
Why were there so many sheep in Israel? Why the need for so many shepherds? I’ve looked around Grangers: not a lot sheep, not a lot of shepherds. Why is this occupation not in need anymore? Why did they need so many sheep in Israel?—because there was a lot of sin in Israel. It was the sacrifice of sheep, who shed their blood that made the picture of the atonement for sin. You see, one day—not only was Jesus the Great Shepherd—He made Himself into a sheep, and He sacrificed His life/He spilled out His blood, as the lamb of God, to atone for the sin of the world so that there could be shalom/peace.
“Do you hear what I hear?” “Do you see what I see?” “Do you know what I know?”—this is the message of Christmas. Have you ever really heard it? Has it ever moved from wonder to treasure? If not, why not today?
Dave: We’ve been listening to Trent Griffith, a Christmas sermon that I hope gets your heart and your soul ready for Christmas this year.
Ann: I like how he ended it, like: “Why not today? Why wouldn’t we receive the Prince of Peace/that Shalom that only comes through Christ, and His birth, His death, His resurrection? There is nothing like it on this planet or beyond that can bring us peace.
Dave: I was looking at the last line of Do You Hear What I Hear?, which we’ve all sung and heard many times. It says, “The child, the child sleeping in the night, [repeating while singing] He will bring us goodness and light.” “He will bring us goodness and light.” That is how Trent ended: it’s the gospel—Jesus does bring goodness and light—and that will be better than any present under the tree. It’s the most important gift we could ever receive and extend to someone else; it’s the gospel.
I hope this message has helped you and your family find peace in Jesus and make this Christmas really a peaceful, extraordinary Christmas.
Ann: Merry Christmas.
Bob: We do hope—all of us, here, at FamilyLife—that however you are spending Christmas, that you will have a joyful celebration of the birth of Christ. Of course, the birth of Christ is something we celebrate because of the death of Christ. If Jesus had not lived the life He lived, and then died the death He died, only to be raised again the third day, we would not remember His birth; but we remember it, because of what He accomplished for us through His death and resurrection. So, again, we hope it is a joyful celebration for you and your family.
If you’d like to hear Trent’s message in its entirety, we have it available for download on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can download the MP3 and listen to the entire message.
And as we wrap things up on this edition of FamilyLife Today, we’re going to hear from Trent Griffith’s daughter, Brooke, who has recorded a version of the traditional Christmas hymn, The First Noël. As we continue this week to celebrate the birth of Christ, enjoy this great Christmas hymn.
[The First Noël]
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©Song: The First Noël
Artist: Brooke Griffith (featuring Colton Price)
Single: Copyright 2021, Brooke Griffith
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