[SW021] 10/16/2011 Message notes from KJV by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2011
Part 4 of Handel’s Messiah “The Annunciation to the Shepherds”
Scripture — Luke 2:6-20
I believe the Lord would have me focus on Luke 2:14, in which the angels say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This is scoffing material for the world. They say, “There is no peace on earth. What was said is not true.” But God is talking about a peace the world cannot know until they know Jesus Christ.
WHAT IS THIS PEACE?
First, the literal translation from Greek is “peace on earth good will toward men of good pleasure.” The NASB translation says, “men with whom God is pleased.” How do we please God? By believing in His Son whom He sent. This peace is for those who receive Jesus Christ, becoming intimately associated with Him. The world, that is humanity at large, does not receive Him; therefore, they do not have His peace.
If you follow my blog, you know that Jeff and I had a very tumultuous week by the world’s standards. While a terrible storm with 55 mph winds and torrential rain raged outside, we had to call 911 for Jeff. A pacemaker was implanted the following day. All the while, I battled a brief but violent “stomach flu.” Yet we both had peace in the midst of the turmoil. How can that be? It is His peace, not natural peace that depends on circumstances being just right. It is His peace that is like a well or fountain within us, continually feeding through us and exuding from us. He is literally within us, and so is His peace! But what do I mean by “peace?”
The word “peace” is eirene in the New Testament Greek, and shalom in the Old Testament Hebrew, but they mean the same thing: completeness, soundness, well-being, ease, health, spiritual prosperity. God created us, and it isn’t until we are reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ that we become complete. A piece is missing from us — reconcilation with God — and it keeps us from having His peace literally within us.
Here are some Scriptures on peace, to help us understand:
Luke 19:42 “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” These were the words of Jesus to the religious elite who professed to know His Father. But they certainly did not know His Father, or they would have recognized the “family resemblance” as Jesus Christ, God’s Son, stood before them. The peace with God that they needed, that comes through knowing Jesus Christ, was hidden from their eyes because of their preconceived notions and desire for prestige and political power.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Jesus tells His disciples they will have His peace. They didn’t have it after Christ’s crucifixion. They huddled in a room behind locked doors, afraid of the Jews who wanted to kill them. But after Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven and poured out His Spirit, they were at peace! They had no fear! They were bold and courageous, continually teaching in the very temple that was the center of power for the religious elite. The perfect love of God was poured out in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. That love casts out fear. They did not fear death, for it only meant they would go to be with Jesus. They didn’t fear judgment, for they belonged to Him.
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus now concluded teaching His disciples about the coming Holy Spirit. And it is the Holy Spirit, for all who are in Christ, who gives them His peace, literally within them.
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We receive His peace when we are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. When we receive Christ we repent and ask Him to save us from the wrath we deserve. He answers and we are no longer hostile toward God, but at peace with Him.
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ’s peace, springing up like a fountain from with in us, is beyond comprehension. We cannot grasp the breadth and height and depth and length of it.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” It is peace in all circumstances, because it is not dependent upon external circumstances. Christ is in us, His peace filling us and exuding from us.
WHO RECEIVES THE MESSAGE OF THIS PEACE?
Let’s look at the shepherds to answer this question:
–They were not esteemed by men. Shepherding was the lowest job in that day. The shepherds smelled like their sheep. They were unlearned, unskilled. Everyone looked down on them. Even now, those who receive the message of this peace are usually not highly esteemed by men. They are usually in low positions and not well educated. Still, it is possible for a rich or brilliant man to enter the kingdom of heaven, as long as his money or his intellect are not his gods.
–They were humble. They were not filled with pride, thinking highly of themselves. They simply went about their duty. Even now, if you are prideful, you will not hear the message of this peace.
–They were watchful and faithful. They cared for their sheep, and their sheep loved them. They knew and could call each sheep by name. They were not hirelings who worked just for wages. They watched for wild animals and other dangers to their flock. Even now, if you are watchful, if you go to the Bible and read and watch and listen, you will see and hear something unexpected and marvelous! If you seek Him for selfish reasons, you will be like the unfaithful hireling who leaves when circumstances take a downturn. You will not hear the message of His peace.
–They were in a quiet place with a large vista. They were undistracted. There were no noises except the bleating of the sheep. They were in a position to see and hear. They were in a wide space. In Psalm 119, the psalmist writes of the Word of God and how it has changed him. In verse 45, he writes, “And I walk in a wide space, for I seek your precepts.” That means he’s seeking to know God through His Word, the Bible. The shepherds were able to see God’s creation and marvel at it. Even now, if you leave this world’s distractions behind and open the Word of God you will enter a wide space. If you are quiet before God and ask Jesus Christ to reveal Himself there, you will be in a position to see and hear Him. You will receive the message of His peace. You will receive His peace.
–They were obedient. They lovingly, carefully, and watchfully performed their duty as shepherds. After they received the message of His peace, given from the Lord by His angels, they knew they must go and see Him. Once they heard this message from the Lord, they knew they must go to meet this One who had been announced. They wanted to personally encounter this Savior who was promised by God. Even now, if you are obedient to the Lord’s message of His peace, you will know that you must go and meet Him of whom you’ve been told. You will want to know your Savior, to have a personal encounter with Him, to go and see Him, to intimately know Him. And He will reveal Himself to you.
HOW DID THEY RESPOND TO THE MESSAGE OF HIS PEACE?
–They didn’t meander over toward the manger at Bethlehem. They hurried! They did not delay going to see Him of whom they had been told. They knew it was the Lord who had sent messengers to them. Even now, if you’ve caught a glimpse of Jesus through the Word of God, you go straight away to Him. You do not hesitate or make excuses. You want Him! You love Him! You need Him! You have a glimpse of Him. He is altogether lovely, and you can’t look away. You want to see all of Him. You run to Him!
–They spread abroad all that had been told them about this Child, Jesus Christ. As they went to Him, they told everyone they knew. Come! It is the Messiah! It is the One who saves us! Come and see! They shared all they had been told. They didn’t hold back. They didn’t keep it to themselves. Even so, it is the same today for all who have received the message of His peace. You will speak about this message to everyone. You can’t help yourself! The message is for everyone, and it’s too good to keep secret!
–They went back, glorifying and praising God. After they met Him, all they could do is praise God and give Him honor and glory for what He had done! It was just as it had been told them. God’s Word is truth, from the beginning to the end. Even now, it is the same for any who have sought a personal encounter with Jesus Christ after hearing the message of His peace. You will find it is just as it has been told you. You cannot help but praise Him and give Him glory, for He has done a supernatural thing! He has rescued you from hell and brought you into life in Him! Before you knew Him, you existed. But now His life is in you, His peace, His joy — all of Him! You leap and walk and praise God! He has set you free!
Get yourself to a quiet place away from the world’s distractions, enter the wide space of God’s Word and ask for the Lord to reveal Himself to you. Watch and wait. You will receive the message of His peace. Then ask Him for a personal encounter. He will meet you, and you will praise and glorify Him forever, because He will save you and fill you and give you His peace and His eternal life, and you will start to live it here and now! It will be for you just as it has been said.