“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…. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased’” – Luke 2:10-11, 14
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” – Romans 5:1
“No justice, no peace” has been the mantra of recent protestors throughout the nation. Although they do not intend to carry Biblical weight, the cry of activists echoes a Scriptural reality. Without justice, there can be no peace. As we meditate on Christ this advent season, let us consider that he was incarnated to justify sinners and put them at peace with God.
The Old Testament is full of prophecies concerning a Messiah, one who would save Israel from ruin and make all things right again. This Messiah that was foretold is God himself and not only God himself, but the God-man. He who was self-sufficient from eternity past, adored in Trinitarian fellowship, and who with his omniscient word created the heavens and the earth, subjected himself to time, space, and the human condition.
The angel in Luke 2, claims that Israel’s long awaited redeemer is their own God, born in flesh to a woman. The heavenly being delivers “good news of great joy” (the gospel) to a group of shepherds in the passage from Luke displayed above telling them that the Savior, the King, God himself is born in Bethlehem. God is born! Their response is joy. Why would this gospel be joyous? The reason this gospel is joyous is because of peace.
Since the fall of man, people have toiled to make their lives better. Societies have struggled to be good enough. Humans have looked for something to satisfy their deepest longings. We have been let down by our inadequacies, convicted by our failures, dejected by our shame, and proven by our weakness that all is not well and all will not be made well by our own efforts. We strive to be made right with God, but our hopes are misplaced and the wrath of God remains on us for trusting in our sufficiency. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We are not at peace. We are unsettled because we know that when justice is done, we cannot stand before God with a clean conscious. Surely he will punish us for our wickedness.
But he will not condemn them who have faith in Christ as their substitute.
Our hope is that “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). The same verse that evidences our Godless state proposes the remedy for peace in a person. So who is the “him” that Isaiah 53:6 speaks of? It is the God-man. The babe, born of the virgin Mary. The one of whom the angel said to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest”.
Jesus lived so that he may die. He took on flesh so that he might suffer. As Augustine puts it, “The Maker of man became man that He…the Bread, might be hungry; that He, the Fountain, might thirst; that He, the Light, might sleep; that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey; that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge; that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips; that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross; that Courage might be weakened; that Security might be wounded; that Life might die.”
Jesus entered into humanity to experience our suffering, taste our pain, intimately know our brokenness, and substitute his perfect life for our severely blemished lives. Jesus’ humanness allows us to have peace with God, because in his flesh God put forward Jesus “as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). This is the Christmas story. This is good news! Let us receive it with joy!