“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2: 14).
The angel’s pronouncement to the shepherds that Jesus would bring peace on earth is the focus of the fourth advent candle. It’s easy to move right past these first witnesses to Jesus’ birth since only Luke’s gospel account mentioned them. In a Christmas Eve nativity pageant, the shepherds are kids who wear customs of itchy gunnysack and don’t have to memorize any dialogue. They may be cute, but they aren’t essential characters in the story.
However, shepherds, rather than Kings or religious leaders, were the first guests to see the King of Kings in human flesh. Why this unexpected choice? It is likely that these shepherds were taking care of the sacrificial lambs the priest used during Israel’s religious celebrations. King David had set aside his ancestral land in Bethlehem for the caretaking of this special flock. Since the lamb had to be perfect, the shepherds had to be vigilant. So, the shepherds who heard the pronouncement of peace from the angels were the same ones that took care of the Passover lamb.
What did this promise of peace on earth mean? The actual word used for “peace” means “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Jesus came to give us lasting peace with God (Rom. 5:1). This means that when we are in Christ, there is no more striving, or earning, we need no pedigree. We have peace with God because of the price Jesus paid (Is. 53:5).
· Thank God for the peace you have with Him because Jesus came and fulfilled His purpose.
· Celebrate this peace with the joy and enthusiasm that the shepherds expressed. Luke 2:7-8 recounts that after they saw the Christ child, they told many people, and those who heard it paid attention to their eyewitness account.
· Ask God who needs to hear this message of peace from you.