‘Peace on Earth.’ Really?!

December 25, 2018 · Print This Article

Ever wondered what all this ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all men’ is about?

Maybe you have heard it at this time of year in the songs on the radio, or from the lips of choirs standing at supermarket entrances singing carols. Well, you are about to hear it one more time in the Queen’s annual Christmas Day message to the nation.

She will share with us that “peace on earth and goodwill to all” is a message that is “never out of date.”[1]

This is something I like about the Queen: so understated in her views, yet so sure in her faith. It’s not just admirable but somewhat attractive.

But the cynic in me does want to question the ‘peace on earth’ bit of her message, or, rather the Christian message. As she says, we need the message as much now as ever. I would agree. If you take a look at this map created by IRIN (an organisation reporting on the the inside story on emergencies) which plots the on-going wars around the world, then you can see we are not a world at peace, or anywhere near it.

But how did Jesus bring it?

Looking at baby Jesus – helpless and needy – he doesn’t strike me as a change agent to bring peace. Babies usually disrupt the peace with their crying. But, I know, Jesus did grow up, as the story goes. Maybe we are not fully familiar with his life story, but we probably know what happened in the end. He was accused of breaking a religious law by the over-zealous religious Jews of the day, convicted in a very questionable way, and sentenced by a Roman leader called Pilate, to death by crucifixion. At the end of his life, he appears as helpless as he was when he was a baby. Unable to bring peace at all.

Some may argue, when you look at Jesus’ life and especially how he acted in the midst of the injustice and his subsequent execution, that he was a man of peace, exemplifying peace through his speech and actions. But I think there is another reason why when it comes to Jesus, there really is hope for ‘peace on earth.’

As someone who has read the words of Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible, I have come to realise that Jesus was not under any delusion that he was somehow going to bring peace to this world now. In fact, his words (some of which you may be shocked by) stated quite the opposite. Jesus was aware of our ability, or inability, to achieve peace. Simply, we’ve never been good at solving conflicts and we will never achieve peace by ourselves. So is peace on earth ever possible? Jesus chimed in on this question and had something to say about it.

One of my favourite songs about the birth of Jesus holds a glimpse of the answer. It is called ‘Mary, did you know?’ and has been redone by the group Pentatonix[2], with over 195 million views on YouTube. One of the lyrics goes like this, “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?

The message brought to earth by Jesus was not a pipe dream that humans would now find peace by themselves because baby Jesus had turned up. But a message of hope that through the help of a returning Jesus (often referred to as his second coming) he will bring peace to earth as king over all the nations.

It is this message that will never be out of date. A message we can look forward to when on that great day we will hear not from the greatest monarch of our day, the Queen, but from the greatest Monarch ever, Jesus.

Notes:

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46666362

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE

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