He looks in his rearview mirror, sees the flashing red and blue lights, and says, “Oh, God.” He is too busy, has too many appointments, too many action items, so he tries to make it up the only way he knows how: shove the accelerator down and fly ahead the less creative drivers. The high school and fire station are a blur, but then it happens — he’s caught. So he takes his foot off the gas, puts it on the break, and pulls over in front of an old brown building. It seems like every time he’s about to get a little ahead, there’s a setback, what else is new? Now his insurance might go up too. His wife is going to chew him out and they’ll probably get into another fight. And when he looks out his passenger window he sneers at the three words glowing at him, “Peace on Earth.”
She’s out for her walk. She shouldn’t have had those cookies. Shouldn’t have went through the drive-through. But now it’ll all even out. One hour quickly walking around town, and she’ll feel a little better. Dad never said anything nice to her. Boss never says anything nice to her. Boyfriend never says anything nice to her unless he wants something. But those girls on the magazine covers, they’re always smiling, they always look happy. So she takes another lap, and pauses on a sidewalk when her feet are killing her, and looks across the yard at the church building with three words glowing at her. She scoffs as she reads, “Peace on Earth.”
He needs a break from the family, a break from the crowd. Needs some fresh air, maybe sneak a smoke. It happened all of a sudden — a phone call at work. “I’m sorry to tell you, but your father has died.” Silence. He remembers his dad asking him to go fishing and turning him down. He remembers going shopping on Christmas day and buying him a gas station gift card thinking, “Good enough.” He remembers his dad getting up with the roosters to go to work to provide for his mom and him. Now he’s at his funeral. A bunch of strangers are all saying the same thing: “We’re so sorry to hear.” “He was a good man.” “Sorry for your loss.” So he goes outside, and there, across the highway, three words shine out at him, “Peace on earth.”
Is there peace on earth? Can there truly be peace on earth?
In a world where speeding tickets are handed out.
In a world where we’re not happy with who we are.
In a world where funerals happen.
In a world where a school full of children are shot.
In a world where riots erupt.
In a world where little ones starve.
In a world where loved ones fight.
Is there peace on earth? Or is that just a slogan in the church yard to try to get people to come to church?
Mary holds her newborn baby boy’s hand. Looking into his eyes seems to make everything ok. She was a pregnant teen and got all those looks from those old ladies. Her fiancé planned on ditching her. She didn’t know what to believe about it all, except she knew she had heard a word from God. “Your son will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Even if her life was a mess, she believed her son’s life would be great, so she had peace on earth.
Three decades later she reaches for his hand again. There’s sweat on his palm, dirt on his nails, and blood on his knuckles. She stands silent in the crowd while they yell it over and over, “Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!” She bites her lip. Don’t they know they’re talking about her little boy? Don’t they know he’d never harm a fly? Don’t they know they’re talking about the Son of God?
Nasty looks from nasty women. A selfish fiancé with one foot out the door. Watching her son be executed by holier-than-thou types — his body beaten, bruised, and buried while they keep on sinning with a smile.
If there is anyone who would be skeptical of peace on earth, it was Mary.
But she knew Jesus too well to know pessimism.
In his last minute he ensures his mom will be cared for. (John 19:25-27)
In his first words after his resurrection, he says, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)
And then he has to say it again, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:21)
No matter what’s going on in your life,
this world does not offer peace.
It offers bigger homes but not family.
It offers nicer meals but not satisfaction.
It offers fancy watches but not more time.
However, Jesus offers peace —
peace in the good times and peace in the bad times,
peace in health and peace amidst sickness,
peace in life and peace in death.
It’s not just three words for a yard sign — it’s all we have — the promise of true, lasting peace on earth through Jesus.