Peace on Earth! But What Kind of Peace Did Jesus Bring?

By Melissa McLaughlin

Peace on Earth!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

One of the sweet joys of the Christmas season for me is the sound of Christmas carols flooding the air. Joyful songs that tell of the birth of Jesus our Savior, played in the stores, in the workplace and freely released on the radio waves. Beneath the hustle and bustle of shoppers, undergirding the gift purchases and wrapping is the life-sustaining hum of Jesus.

Recently while standing in the checkout line at Home Depot, there it was again. The Glorias of heaven caught my attention and warmed my soul.

Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o’er the plains

And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Right there among the hammers and nails, among the sandpaper and paint, among the doorknobs and light fixtures, there He was. Jesus, was welcomed into my heart and mind through silvery Christmas melodies radiating through the speaker systems of a hardware store!

To think that songs of angels accompany us through our days at this time of year! When we pause for a moment and consider the typical lyrics one might hear in passing secular music, this is no small miracle and we can rejoice in this delightful respite while it lasts.

The Christmas Story

Many of these beloved Christmas songs include lyrics that feature Bible verses from passages like that found in Luke, Chapter 2, a standard and treasured passage of scripture for Christmas. This excerpt reads:

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!”

One of the heartwarming refrains we hear both in music and in greetings is “Peace on earth, Good will to men” as heard in this treasured song:

I heard the bells on Christmas day their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.

Some Questions About Peace

There are a few questions, however, that linger with this matter of peace.

First, let’s look again at the scripture passage above, in particular note the final few words of Luke 2:14: “on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased. Some versions of the Bible state “on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. No matter the version of the Bible that is used, clearly the only way that there can be good will between God and mankind, is through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no other way.

What Kind of Peace Does Jesus Bring?

As we consider this matter of peace on earth, let us also take a second look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34-39.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

This is a hard passage indeed! What happened to our Savior meek and mild, sleeping in heavenly peace?

Though sometimes we would like to contain Jesus as a docile baby in the manger that we can hold and hold back, the truth is He is a mighty King and Champion of heaven.

We know from Ephesians 6:17 that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the Bible. Furthermore, we know from John 1 that Jesus is the Word. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.

When Jesus comes into our lives He brings a sword, a truth that divides the finest nuances of deception and the most minute traces of darkness, self-lies and half-truths, even those which have settled deep within us, almost impossible for us to discern. He sees it all. He exposes it all to the truth of His perfect, holy Word and the pure light of His presence. Light which cannot be bent or tarnished with our desires to meet selfish or fleshly demands.

We Need a Savior

In the end, after Jesus exposes the darkness of our sinful hearts, He leaves us with only one choice. Either we accept Him or we reject Him. There is no middle ground. If we choose to accept Jesus, this requires an acknowledgement that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Cutting away any self-pride, piercing any self-effort, carving off any self-importance, slashing away any self-rule, removing any gods we have made of human affection. Without Jesus we are nothing more than dust of the earth and without Jesus to that that we will return. With Jesus, we have the deep peace that comes from complete forgiveness and the steady assurance of heaven.

Ultimate Peace on Earth is Peace in Christ

Though at times we may rebel against the righteous truth of God’s Word, the fact is our souls will not be at peace until we find our peace in Jesus as our Savior and Lord and in the truth of His Word. Then the ultimate peace on earth will be ours. The good will between God and mankind is only made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That is why the peace that Jesus brings, though extended to all, is only enjoyed by those who choose to receive and fully surrender their lives to Him. Those who receive Jesus are the ones on whom God’s favor rests, those with whom God is pleased. It is Jesus who makes us pleasing to the Lord, as in the words of Tim Keller, Jesus didn’t die for us because we were lovely; He died to make us lovely.

The lyrics of this carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Charles Wesley capture the message fully.

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!

Peace for All Eternity

There is true peace on earth and peace in our hearts when we accept the gift of salvation through Christ. Real peace begins between God and the believer, as we rest in the perfect sacrifice made for our sins through Jesus. Next, we have peace within, as we now live for God out of gratitude, not out of condemnation. Finally, we can then extend peace to others as we forgive in the manner He forgave us and as we share the good news of Jesus.

As we sing along and enjoy the Christmas carols this season, let us tune in more intently to the glorious truths of these songs, remembering that surely, Jesus did bring peace on earth. However, this peace is unlike anyone imagined. Farther reaching than bonds of family, farther reaching than kindness between neighbors, farther reaching than nations declaring peace treaties. This is a peace that goes beyond any human peace. Jesus brought peace between God and mankind, for any who will receive it. And this is a peace that lasts for all eternity.

For in the words of the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah based on Revelation 11:15, “He shall reign forever and ever.”

May we remember that Jesus is our Prince of Peace, but His is not a peace like the world gives. The peace of Jesus is immeasurably and infinitely more.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

*Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Additional songs and resources to enjoy:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by East Valley Chorale

Resound’s Christmas Medley

O Holy Night by Kathleen Battle

O Come All Ye Faithful by King’s College Choir

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Jan Mulder and The London Orchestra

A Savior is Born! Glory to God, Peace to Man – By John Piper

58 thoughts on “Peace on Earth! But What Kind of Peace Did Jesus Bring?”

    • I’m thanking God for placing the right verses in your path today! 2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
      God bless you with His peace.

      Reply
  1. For everything we go through, all the trials, mountains and tribulations, He’s saying that He and He only is our defense and peace. The closer we get to Him, the more we realize how much He truly is all we need! Great post!

    Reply
    • Bless you and amen! Your words are strong and true, my brother. Your insights remind me of a saying I’ve heard before, “You won’t know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” When I was at my lowest points in life, I realized how true this is. Jesus, our true peace, now and forever.

      Reply
  2. Wonderful message, Melissa. Thank you. Jesus is who He is. Sometimes that is not who we envision Him to be. Sometimes that is not who we want Him to be. He is all powerful and He alone is good. He is the peace that defies our understanding.
    I’m having knee surgery Thursday, Lord willing. I would appreciate your prayers.
    –Pam

    Reply
    • Dear Pam, how I appreciate your insights! Your words ring true, Jesus is not always what we expect or want Him to be. He is God. And we are not. As we are reminded of this in demonstrations of His power and Sovereignty, we are reminded of who He really is. Your thoughts bring to my mind the quote from the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis where they describe Aslan, the character who represents Jesus in these words, “He is not safe, but He is good.” The older I get, the more I study the scriptures, the more true I see these words to be.
      Thank you for letting me know about your prayer request. I am pausing right now to pray for you and will continue to pray all week. Please let me know when you are all through and beginning your recovery. May God surround you in His peace that passes all understanding before, during and after the whole process. Deuteronomy 33:27a – The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. God bless you!

      Reply
    • Dear Brianna, thank you for being willing to walk this path with me, past the twinkling lights and shiny decorations, through the scriptures to the truth of Jesus’ mission. It was a passionate, blood-stained cross that awaited this baby Jesus in the manger. As I ponder this, I am more filled with humble gratitude and awe at His great love and obedience. The sacrifice Jesus made in order to win for us peace with God, defies words. So, we cherish and honor Him the best we can. Jesus, you are so very beautiful.
      God bless you, Brianna!

      Reply
  3. Hi Melissa, interstingly enough we were having a discussion in our small group on what the mission of the church is? Is it to bring peace on earth (as the world would define it)? But as you so eloquently remind us, that is not the kind of peace Jesus brought. It is the peace between God and man for those who are willing to acknowledge their need of a Savior and their acceptance of him. Thanks for a great post!

    Reply
    • Hi Luisa, thank you for sharing about your small group discussion. It is amazing how often the Holy Spirit will send the same message through different outlets. May we be ever focused on the true gift of Jesus’ coming, which was to save us from our sins. And what a gift it is! Blessings to you!

      Reply
  4. Dear Melissa,
    Yes, I have thought those same thoughts–what a miracle to hear the Word of God being sung publicly during this Season. For as long as He gives us opportunity, I pray that we would not take for granted the precious gift it is to share about His coming. How much we need HIS peace in our hearts these days. Nothing in this world can bring that, it is truly His favor through Jesus that we long for. May you be blessed this Advent Season!

    Reply
    • Dear Bettie,
      I appreciate your thoughtful insights. I could not agree more, it is His favor through Jesus that we truly long for in this life and only Jesus can make that possible. What a precious, forever gift. God bless you this Advent Season! May the joy of our salvation shine ever brighter, above everything else that is happening around us!

      Reply
  5. These carols of peace are so powerful and time-invariant. It’s a little sad that so many are omitted from many modern churches. Have to go to Home Depot to hear what would bless most congregations.

    Reply
    • So true, Bruce. These Christmas carols carry the real message of Jesus’ coming and that good news will never grow old, that He came to die for our sins. We need Jesus, how we need Him! I’m joining you in prayer for all the churches that have lost sight of Jesus’ truth and sacrifice as written in God’s Word. May the beauty of Christ that pierces through even in secular settings pierce through all of our churches more and more. I appreciate your heart for Christ!

      Reply
  6. Thank you so much for your excellent post! We can look forward to the time when The Prince of Peace will truly bring His Peace to the Earth. In the meantime, we have His peace, which passes all understanding!

    Reply
    • Bless you and amen, Valerie! May we rest in His peace this day, for our sins are forgiven through Christ and yes, you are right, one day, He will truly bring His peace on earth. May we rest in Him as we wait. Blessings to you!

      Reply
  7. Melissa, it is a joy to read of your experiences with the Lord, in the world, but not of it ~ still blessed to hear what others do not hear. In current meditations from the book of Revelation 19:11 “the Faithful and True, in righteousness doth judge and make war” against the sin in my own heart and life. I am grateful for the sword of His Spirit that leaves no sin to ruleรขโ‚ฌโ€น, but brings me captive to His very love and peace. Blessings!

    Reply
    • May we keep our eyes on Jesus, through it all, for it is joy unspeakable and peace unexplainable, as we remember all He has done to win us this peace with God.
      I agree wholeheartedly with you and am deeply “grateful for the sword of His Spirit that leaves no sin to rule, but brings me captive to His love and peace!” Jesus, help us love you more! God bless you!

      Reply
    • What a blessed peace Jesus has won for us! As I try to take that in more fully, I am so filled with gratitude and awe. May we rest in all that Jesus has done today and in each day to come. Thank you for reading and commenting. God bless you, Wendy!

      Reply
  8. In the end, after Jesus exposes the darkness of our sinful hearts, He leaves us with only one choice. Either we accept Him or we reject Him. There is no middle ground. If we choose to accept Jesus, this requires an acknowledgement that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Cutting away any self-pride, piercing any self-effort, carving off any self-importance, slashing away any self-rule, removing any gods we have made of human affection. Without Jesus we are nothing more than dust of the earth and without Jesus to that that we will return. With Jesus, we have the deep peace that comes from complete forgiveness and the steady assurance of heaven.

    And yet so often I have cultivated a middle ground, harboured pride, self effort and self rule. It seems to me that the biggest challenge to the Christian faith is mediocracy, the willingness of vast sways of Christians to live something less that 100% in accordance with the teachings of Christ. And indeed one of the most discordant notes in Christianity is the eagerness to argue over what is and is not his teaching. If there is truly a deep peace then it must surely be, not that there is no middle ground, but rather that even though I dwell in the middle ground, the scriptures tech that through Christ there can be peace between me and God

    Reply
  9. Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for this message! I feel empowered reading your words. As I read about Jesus’power and no-nonsense approach, spirit rises inside to go, be bold, speak and serve. May He continue to bless the ministry He has given you.

    Reply
    • Dear Julie, may the words of Jesus always strengthen our resolve to love Him more and live more fully for Him! I think you are right, Jesus was no-nonsense because He was always able to keep His vision of the eternity clearly before Him. Praying we keep His vision, too. God bless you!

      Reply
  10. There is true peace on earth and peace in our hearts when we accept the gift of salvation through Christ.
    For me, that sentence in your blog is key. We cant create peace world wide, there will allways be wars and rumours of wars, we need to find peace in our own hearts and radiate that in our own sphere of infulence

    Reply
    • So true, Tony, and what a beautiful truth that we have real peace through the gift of salvation in Jesus! It is the best gift we could ever hope for and we can enjoy it both now and forever. You are right, when we carry the peace that Jesus has won for our souls, we can then reflect and radiate this to others, so they too can find the peace that only Jesus can give. May God bless you with His precious peace!

      Reply
  11. Thanks for sharing these perspectives on various Christmas carols and the depth of Christ’s peace. It’s easy to just hum along with a favorite song, and neglect to grasp the magnitude of the message contained in its lyrics!

    Reply
    • Dear Jamie, thank you for reading and enjoying the Christmas carols with me. I really do love the songs of the season. I pray that I will be able to do just as you say, take in the magnitude of the messages I am singing. May the peace of Jesus flood your heart and mind this Advent season!

      Reply
  12. Amen!! Jesus is our Prince Of Peace! So beautiful Melissa! I love Christmas carols too and will think differently when I hear Christmas music in stores and everywhere this time of year. So grateful this one time of year the good news is being proclaimed at the grocery store, hardware store, and so many other businesses. I think I’ll sing a little louder next time I’m shopping. God bless you and your writing!

    Reply
    • Dear Meghan, thank you for taking a moment to read and share your thoughts! I just love the Christmas carols and they carry a truly amazing message. What a gift of peace with God, won for us by Jesus! Great idea to sing a little louder next time I am shopping! God bless you and yours this Christmas season!

      Reply
  13. Dear Melissa!

    Yeah, I also enjoy listing to the Christmas songs ๐Ÿ™‚

    To me, it’s essential to focus on the thought that Jesus is pleased with each of us. There’s nothing we can do to ‘please Him more’ or to be ‘better Christians’.

    You wrote: “He [Jesus] leaves us with only one choice. Either we accept Him or we reject Him. ”

    I see it a little bit differently (like the seminal figure in the Protestant movement, Martin Luther saw it).

    It’s not us who chose Jesus; it was God who chose us. As I see it, there’s really nothing we can do.

    Some say, “Yes, but Jesus gave us free will so we can choose Him!” To me, that’s a reduction of who God is. His love for us does not depend on what we do, what we chose or how we feel”.

    I really love that thought – it’s one of the reasons why it would be one of Martin Luther’s books I would bring with me if I were only allowed to bring two books with me ๐Ÿ™‚

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

    Reply
  14. Spot on, Melissa. Too many people want to talk about “Jesus, meek and mild,” but they forget that He is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will return to judge the Earth! Great job in bringing balance to the “peace on earth” issue.

    Reply
    • Thank you for stopping by and sharing your feedback! It’s true, the peace that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is bringing is not worldly peace, but reconciliation with a holy God. And yes, He is coming back to judge the earth and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! I pray that others will join us as we bow, revere, and honor Him now and receive this amazing gift of peace with God. Blessings of Christ to you in the new year!

      Reply

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