BIG IDEA: This time of the year is full to the brim with “holiday cheer” and a desire for the certain brand of peace it brings. But this time of year can bring back difficult things in our lives. This very “holiday cheer” can be a source of frustration instead of peace, which begs the question, do we really experience true peace at Christmas, or is it something we fabricate? True peace is often gravely misunderstood, and the peace that Jesus actually brings is very different from good ol’ holiday cheer.
We’re taking a break from our study in Ephesians to reflect on Advent. The word “Advent” means “arrival,” and during this time of the year we reflect on Jesus’ first arrival on Earth, looking forward in anticipation to his second arrival. It’s a time of tension between Jesus’ first coming and his second.
 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.  Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples  and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:  the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (ESV)
- Old Testament Peace: shalom (Hebrew) – all of the threads of humanity and creation brought together by a grand weaver (God) into a beautiful woven tapestry.
- John the Baptist: John was Jesus’ cousin who was preaching, teaching, and baptizing. He believed that the Messiah was coming soon and that he was preparing the way for him. But when he heard about Jesus, he doubted whether or not Jesus was the actual Messiah.
- Jesus’ Response: He told John to “look at what I do.” Jesus differentiated himself from being just a prophet, stating that he is, in fact, the Messiah. A Prophet proclaims truth, but Jesus does not just proclaim, he acts, making Jesus more than a prophet. Jesus proclaims peace and brings physical, tangible peace into the world.
- Why does Jesus perform miracles?
- To bring real Peace.
- To prove that he is the Messiah predicted by prophecy, come to put things back in place.
- First Advent: arrival of the Messiah in human form, the arrival of real peace.
- Second Advent: Jesus’ return. It’s then that we will see the full breakthrough of his peace.
- Why must we wait? Why didn’t Jesus just bring the full breakthrough of peace in his first coming?
- Peace only comes on the heels of war, and so, for the love of those that are still at war with God, he waits to end the war. He wants many more to come to him.
- We are at war….
- …in our bodies: The body, mind, heart, and soul war against us, war against God’s true plan. But Jesus comes, and he brings real peace into those areas of our lives. He calms the restlessness of our emotions.
- …in the world: Cultures and people groups also war against God, but in the same way that he brings actual peace to our physical bodies, God brings and will bring actual peace to the world.
- He does so now in part, later in whole.
- Holiday Cheer: During the holidays, we let peace morph into this thing we call holiday cheer, and our encouragement turns into “just cheer up, it’s Christmas.”
- Lack of peace is real: We fail to lament the true lack of peace in people’s lives. We ask the people we love to press pause on all of their troubles because it’s Christmas. We pretend it isn’t there, but we shouldn’t do that. The lack of peace doesn’t go away, and it’s still lamentable no matter what time of year it is. Instead of trying to turn it off, we should enter into it with those that we love and say, “there is real peace.”
- Peace is not a feeling, it is a reality: Jesus didn’t come and he’s not coming again to bring a feeling.
- Jesus brings actual peace in supernatural, miraculous, and semi-supernatural ways.
- Do we understand who Jesus was? The sentimentality of Christmas, leads us to a grave misunderstanding of who Jesus was and what he promises to bring. When John was confused about why Jesus wasn’t fixing everything, taking political authority, kicking out the Romans, etc. Jesus said, “you decide who I am based on what you know. Look at what I’ve done, look at what I’m doing, look at the real change that’s happening. ”
- Do you long for Jesus to come again?
- Don’t pretend once a year that all is well. The world is broken, people are broken, and there is a lack of peace in every possible way.
- Work like Jesus, empowered by the spirit, to bring real peace, real solutions to real problems.
- Keep Christ part of Christmas: He is the only one who can bring real peace.
- Immerse yourself in Jesus’ story: Read through the Gospels. Get as close to him as you can, and then you be the judge. Who do you say that Jesus is? Is he the one who can change war into real peace?
- Lay down all other modes of peace that you’ve used in the past and lean on Jesus.
- Cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus, come. You are the only thing that can bring peace. Come in the small, partial ways that you come, and come in the full way of your return.”
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