Advent_165

He Is Our Peace

Zach Farrar - Community Groups Coordinator

Have you ever heard of the Christmas truce? Sounds like the stuff of a bad Hallmark movie right? As unlikely as it may sound, it is a real thing that happened just over 100 years ago.

As Europe spiraled into bloodshed during The Great War (World War I) soldiers began to realize their campaign to save their families and homes would be long, difficult, and costly. Gone were the dreams of a short-lived resolution to the German menace. And so much of the world settled into an uneasy, tense daily regimen of trench warfare in a series of battle lines all across Western Europe.

And yet for all the animosity that filled Europe during those four years of World War I, at the outset of the war, on Christmas Day, something peculiar happened – peace. Something within the soldiers, both from the Central Powers (Germany, Turkey, and Hungary) and Allies (much of the rest of Europe), knew that Christmas was a day for reconciliation, peace, and celebration. And so on that day, all across the Western Front, many soldiers climbed out of their trenches, laid down their arms, and met in the war-torn middle ground. There they sang Christmas carols, shared food on cook-fires, exchanged small gifts, and even played a few games of soccer. For a brief moment, on Christmas Day in 1914, the destruction of war was replaced with a supernatural peace.

Eventually though, Christmas ended, and the hard realities of war resumed on December 26, 1914. What happened that day can hardly be described as a peace treaty; it was more like an unofficial ceasefire or armistice. But nevertheless, on Christmas in 1914, thousands of men recognized something, consciously or not: the celebration of Christ’s birth is an occasion for peace. The Great War continued for another four years, and after that first year, generals forbid any other Christmas Truce like that first one. Only after millions of lives had been spent did the Central Powers finally concede defeat. Why couldn’t the peace of that one, still day have lasted? Why didn’t it go beyond December 25, 1914?

Peace requires bloodshed. That’s the hard truth we all would like to forget. Peace couldn’t last during the Christmas Truce because ultimately, a league of nations was still determined to oppress all others. Only after the Central Powers had bled significantly for four years, would they finally relent and pursue peace. In war, peace is ultimately secured not by a treaty or ceasefire or diplomatic politicking, but by bloodshed that finally creates peace.

And so it is in our war with God. As the great Creator King, God made men and women to rule as His representatives on this earth – to show all creation His glory. And yet we have rebelled in sin – committing cosmic treason and declaring civil war on God. The King who made us is now our enemy. No diplomatic relations, no U.N. Summit, will resolve this ages old battle. Only blood will ultimately create peace, because in our hard-hearted rebellion, we won’t relent until we are finally destroyed. Hebrews tells us that only by bloodshed can there be peace – can our war with God finally be resolved (Hebrews 9:22).

But at Christmas, we see something amazing. God does not require our blood to be at peace with Him. Rather than come to earth in great power, splendor, and wrath, at Christmas, we see something entirely different. Something puzzling. We see the Great King who has every right to destroy His enemies, stoop down low to live among those who so hate and revile Him. Not just for a moment, but for a lifetime. And then at the end of His stay on earth, God-in-the-flesh, Jesus, gave His blood for our peace. Rather than force us into submission and require our blood for our sins against Him, in great love and grace, Jesus offered up His blood for our peace.

And that is why on Christmas we can rest. Our peace with God does not hinge on nations complying with complex treaties and war-time truces. It hinges on God Himself taking our punishment, offering His blood in our place, and in so doing, extending to us the gift of peace. At Christmas we celebrate and praise God because our war with Him has been squashed not by our own blood, but by His sacrifice. At Christmas we remember with great joy and gratitude, the work of Jesus Christ, for “He Himself is our Peace,” (Eph. 2:14).

Post Series: Advent 2015

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