Day 16: Tuesday

Tuesday: Reflect  (Think)

As God speaks to us we reflect on his Word by “ruminating” on it in our minds. Read the passage of the “Gloria” (Luke 2:9-14) for the third time. Relish the words. Let them resound in your heart. Be attentive to what it speaks to your heart.
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Adoration of the Magi for the Spedale degli Innocenti, Florence
Domenico Ghirlandaio
Today, we move on to the second theme in the Gloria, which is peace . As we will discover, “the peace that God provides in Jesus is another primary emphasis for Luke (Luke 1:79; 10:5-6; 19:38, 42; Acts 9:31; 10:36)” Let’s consider the different ways in which Luke develops the theme of Christ’s peace.

 

First, peace is the gift that Jesus gives to those who have faith in him: “And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” (Luke 8:48; cf. 7:50). This is a powerful statement, that it is our faith that makes us whole, and thus brings us lasting peace.

 

Once we are whole, we are then able to share this faith so as to bring peace to others. Jesus instructs his disciples to give the gift of peace: “And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again: (Luke 10:5-6). Luke narrates that Jesus’ first words to his disciples following his resurrection were these, “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36). You are now whole.

 

Yet, two verses in Luke 12 seem to suggest an opposite point of view than that created in these stories. Jesus says to his disciples, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three” (12:51-52).

 

The great early Greek theologian Origin notices the perplexity of this passage when it is compared with the angels’ announcement in Luke 2:14, and he makes these observations, as quoted by Thomas Aquinas:

 

“But the attentive reader will ask, How then does the Savior say, I came not to send peace on the earth, whereas now the Angels’ song of His birth is, On earth peace to men? It is answered, that peace is said to be to men of goodwill. For the peace which the Lord does not give on the earth is not the peace of good will.”

 

Origin’s resolution of this issue is underscored by the examples listed above of Christ giving his peace: the recipients of that peace were those who had faith in Him. Jesus is clear in his command to his disciples, “if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon [his house]: if not, it shall turn to you again.”

 

It is also possible that a resolution to this issue in the Luke 12 passage is the possibility that the angels were proclaiming an eschatological peace for those who have faith in God, while Christ in Luke 12 was referring to a kind of earthly political peace. But Jesus was certainly speaking of the peace and wholesness which is in our hearts that comes only by faith.

 

In the Old Testament, the prophets often promise peace (Isaiah 9:5, 7; 11:6 9; Micah 5:4). This peace is a gift of grace: the wolf shall lie down with the lamb and the child shall crawl over the hole of the snake. The Apostle Paul argues in Romans 5:1 that we who have been justified through faith now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. That peace is the removal of our separation from God because Jesus Himself has borne the burden of our sin and separation so that we can be reconciled to God.

 

The message is clear: this peace is to be cultivated in our hearts. Paul says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace comes through the acts of that faith: contemplation, thanksgiving and prayer and these things allow our hearts to be open to God, and thus guarded in Christ.  The phrase “on earth peace among those whom He favors” has an alternate version in some manuscripts that read “on earth peace, good will toward men.” The first version is likely the more original, and it emphasizes peace among those whom God has already favored. This peace, though, is not a mere absence of war and conflict. It is the deep shalom, total well-being, that comes from God.

 

Paul outlines a peace among the brothers and sisters in Christ in Ephesians 2:14: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…” This wall that divides us robs our peace, but Christ has taken these walls away. He is our peace. This peace is to find full expression in the fellowship of believers.

 

But just as Jesus said to his disciples, Paul argues that once we have been healed from this broken state, we are to extend this peace even to those who despise us — “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18). We are exhorted to promote and peace with our neighbors.

 

  • As you reflect on this concept of peace that comes from faith in Christ, ask God to show you the areas of your life in need of healing, the areas where greater faith will bring you wholeness. What come to mind? Note this in your journal.
  • Where in your own life are there “dividing walls of hostility,” either within your own heart towards God or between your heart and others? How might God be showing you where your faith in Christ can break down these walls?
  • Think about the word or phrase that stood out to you in the Gloria. How is this related to peace? To wholeness?
  • What might God be showing you about your faith and its impact on the deep shalom, total well-being in your heart that he wants to offer you?
  • Consider your relationships, both with other believers and with those who have not benefitted from the wholeness that faith brings. What comes to mind? What transformation is God opening your heart to embrace? What might God be showing about the healing he wants to bring to these relationships?
  • What does this suggest for the life of the world? How will you participate in bringing ‘goodwill to all men’?

 

 

Prayer:

Ask God to cast his light on those areas of your life that are in need of healing and to give you the grace of the faith that will make you whole. Ask him to show you how you can extend this peace to bring wholeness to others and for the life of the world.