Peace | Luke 2:1-20

December 31, 2013

Topic: Christmas

Book: Luke


The word “peace” is one of the words that characterizes the Christmas season.

Our lives are constantly under assault in a world that seems to be falling apart. Everyone has a desperate need for peace. We need peace in international politics. There is an assault on personal peace. We need peace in interpersonal relationships.

Amid the conflict of this world comes the good news of God’s peace through Jesus.


Luke 2:1-20

We are going to look at the birth of Jesus and the announcement of the angel to the shepherds. We are going to see the peace that God gives to the world through Jesus Christ.

Let’s open our Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke 2. Luke presents to us the details concerning Jesus’ birth. Earlier we read this passage.

Observations from this passage

Time in history

The birth of Jesus took place in the context of world history.

Herod the Great, 1:5; Caesar Augustus, 2:1; Quirinius was governor of Syria, 2:2.

The birth of Jesus is not a myth but is in the historical timeline.

The piety of Joseph and Mary

Luke portrays Joseph and Mary as law-abiding citizens. They observed the Jewish law and even observed Roman laws to come for the census.

Jesus was born into a poor family

Joseph & Mary were poor. We know they were poor because instead of lamb they offered two young pigeons, a lesser sacrifice allowed for poor couples, Lk. 2:24; Lev. 12:6-8.

Lowly shepherds receive the birth announcement

According to the culture in Jesus’ time, no position in the world was as despised as that of the shepherd. Shepherds were social outcasts identifying them along with thieves. As a result, no one could purchase from them.

The shepherds were poorly paid. The birth announcement was given to shepherds.

God announced the coming of the Saviour to the lowly shepherds

Rather than the priests serving in the temple.

Rather than the royals in Jesus’ time.

The good news was first announced to the outcasts.

This was God’s way when we were called:

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

According to Luke, Jesus has come for the following

Outcasts as well as for the elite.

Marginalized as well as for the noble.

Men as well as women.

Adults as well as children.

The Shepherds saw God’s glory

Luke 2:8-9

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

 The glory of God encompasses them

Remember, Moses could not stand in the presence of God’s glory, Ex. 40:35.

The priests could not perform their duties when the glory of God filled the temple, 2 Ch. 7.

Even the high priest enters the holy place in the glory of God once a year.

We are going to behold God’s glory when Jesus returns in his second coming. When the sky reveals the Son of God at the return of Christ. He is coming back to bring judgment on the wicked and give justice to the oppressed and afflicted. In his first coming he came to bear the judgement.

Angel’s message to the Shepherds

Luke 2:10-14

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

  • Do not be afraid.
  • The birth of Jesus is Good News for all the people.
  • Jesus causes great joy for all the people.
  • Jesus is the Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord.
  • Jesus gives peace on earth.


 In the remainder of this sermon, I want to concentrate on the aspect of Peace.

Peace in the infancy narrative is an echo of praise from the angels:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”

Time of Perfect Peace

Well, was there ever a time of perfect peace? Yes, there was. But to see it we’ll have to go back to the book of Genesis, chapters 1, 2 & 3. There we see Adam, created in the image of God & placed in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by all the ingredients that make for perfect peace.

First of all, he was in a perfect place, a paradise designed & created by God, Himself. And God gave Adam a perfect body with no flaws or blemishes in it, & provided him with a garden in which there was perfect food to eat.

Adam had a perfect body.

God gave Adam a perfect companion.

Man and woman disobeyed God by finding good on their terms, in Genesis eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 Genesis 3:6-7

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.


 Peace surrounds the Christmas story 

We have Zechariah acknowledging this in the Benedictus as he directs his attention to his infant son who would become John the Baptist.

Luke 1:76-79


76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;

for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79 to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Peace is not a feeling. It’s a path, it’s a walk, it’s a tutelage (guardianship) into the peace that rests with him and that comes from him.

Likewise, after our text, we have Simeon’s Nunc dimittis as Simeon takes the infant Jesus into his hands and says:

Luke 2:28-32


28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

Peace in the scriptures is who the Saviour is and what he does. Jesus is the embodiment of peace because he is the mediator between heaven and earth that achieves the reconciliation of sinners to a Holy God and also brings peace to another among humankind.

 Old Testament prophesies of peace

In the Old Testament, there were many prophesies about Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,(not just to his parents)

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Micah 5:2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me

one who will be ruler over Israel,

whose origins are from of old,

from ancient times.”

Micah 5:3

Therefore Israel will be abandoned

until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,

and the rest of his brothers return

to join the Israelites.

It’s an abandonment because, from the time that Micah was predicting until Jesus, there would be no legitimate claimant on the throne of Israel. There would only be oppression by foreign dominating nations.

Micah 5:4

4 He will stand and shepherd his flock

in the strength of the Lord,

in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

And they will live securely, for then his greatness

will reach to the ends of the earth.

5 And he will be our peace…

 He is their peace. It is not just his message, He is the one.

Paul picks up this in Ephesians

Ephesians 2:13-18

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

I wanted to emphasize this point that peace does not come full-blown. It is of course definitive, but it is progressive in our experience. Isaiah 2:3 “He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” That takes some doing, it takes some teaching. Jesus is the one who brings about that instruction that leads us into the real experience of peace on which all other peace unfolds.

The peace that Christ brings is not like the world’s peace

The peace that Jesus gives

Is not an untroubled situation where everything goes the way we want.

It is not an untroubled mind where we don’t have a negative thought.

It is not blinding ourselves to the real dangers to feel secure and safe.

That is the way the world gives its peace.

Peter Rossi (Sociologist) from the University of Chicago

“All it takes to be happy to be at peace in this life is youth, money, success, good health, good looks, and a wife. Possessing these prerequisites one has the good spring of happiness and a flourishing life.”

How many have all that? And if you have it I hate to tell you it’s going to soon leave. You cannot remain youthful all the while.

The promise comes with Christ,

Jesus promised peace

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. (He is the source) I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

The peace that Jesus gives is not a trouble-free life

Killing of the boys by Herod. If you know the story of Jesus’ birth, you know it was not a peaceful life into which Jesus was born. After Herod heard the news he ordered the mass murder of the infants of Bethlehem and vicinity of all those under the age of 2. That did not look too peaceful. Jesus was taken to Egypt by his parents because of Herod’s threat.

Jesus was not living in a peaceful world and He was not experiencing peace as they were running for their lives: He and His parents in his mother’s arms.

Ironically, Jesus would promise peace.

John 15:18

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

John 15:20

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

He assures us that we will not have peace in the way that the world provides peace. He assures that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

John 14:27

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There is not only a lack of peace in terms of external circumstances.

There is a lack of peace in terms of an untroubled mind.

Christianity is not a zen idea where people always have positive thoughts.

Jesus in His example we find him distressed when he meets the woman who is the widow of Nain who has just lost her child. His heart goes out to her in the gospel of Luke chapter 7:11-15.

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem

That does not look peaceful. You see some grown man weeping. He is deeply disturbed because he knows what is going to happen.

Luke 19:41-42

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Jesus says, “Peace is not what you think. It has to start with me having my rightful place in your life, as the rightful Son of David and King over his people.”

Jesus weeps at the death of Lazarus

When he saw Mary weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus and the Jews who had come along also weeping, it says Jesus was deeply moved in the spirit and troubled.

John 11:33-34

34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept.

Jesus was troubled on the night He was betrayed

John 12:27-28

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Here he is praying in anguish in anticipation of the death that will soon be his experience on the cross.

At Gethsemane, Jesus said

Matthew 26:38

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 Luke 22:44

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

That is what peace looks like, His peace. That is the kind of peace you and I desperately need.

We say where’s the peace then actually?

Peace comes from Jesus and His work on the cross

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Peace comes through a relationship with Jesus

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

When we trust in Jesus, our hearts are garrisoned against anxiety

Now in this new relationship with Him, our hearts are garrisoned against anxiety. When we bring all of our requests to the Lord:

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is peace to men on whom his favor rests. It’s God’s favor to us to reconcile us to Himself.

Now we are never alone. Now we know why Jesus is called the Immanuel, God with us.

John 14:18

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

I am never going to abandon you.

John 14:23

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Mathew 28:20

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


We often talk about being in the same boat with another person. They tell us they lost their job or they cannot pay their bills and we will say trying to be sympathetic, “Yeah, I am in the same boat.” But you know what, we are not in the same boat. We are all in different boats and they are all sinking and they are all being threatened by the storm. But there is one who can be with you in your boat

Mark 4:36-37

36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Mark 4:38-40

38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm 40 He said to his disciples “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Mark 4:41

 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

They did not wake him up to command the wind and the waves to quiet down. They are astonished at what he did.

All we need to do is trust him, and Jesus is in the same boat as we are because he is making his home in our hearts. If he is with you, nothing can happen that he will not be able to work together for the good of those who love him and who are called according to his purpose.


Several years ago a submarine was being tested & had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to base, the captain was asked, “How did the terrible storm last night affect you?” The captain looked at him and said, “There was a storm in our report but we didn’t even know there was one!”

The sub had been so deep that it had reached the area known to sailors as “the cushion of the sea.” No matter how fiercely high winds may churn the ocean’s surface, the waters there are never disturbed.

Folks, if you want a peace that the storms of life cannot disturb, a peace that will sustain you no matter what comes your way, then it is my privilege to point you to Jesus, & extend His invitation to you. Will you come as we stand & as we sing?

Ephesians 6:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

His name is Immanuel. Praise be to God. We are celebrating the birth of this one who is God with Us. Make sure he is with you.

I can experience His peace and not be afraid if I just remember He is with me


Life can be unpredictable—joys and sorrows, beautiful blessings and distressing difficulties can come unexpectedly. Our life’s dreams and plans can change in an instant. We all know this to be true. So how can we find peace amid such turbulence?

Horatio Spafford knew something about life’s unexpected challenges. He was a successful attorney and real estate investor who lost a fortune in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Around the same time, his beloved four-year-old son died of scarlet fever.

Thinking a vacation would do his family some good, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England, planning to join them after he finished some pressing business at home. However, while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship was involved in a terrible collision and sunk. More than 200 people lost their lives, including all four of Horatio Spafford’s precious daughters. His wife, Anna, survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to her husband that began: “Saved alone. What shall I do?

Horatio immediately set sail for England. At one point during his voyage, the captain of the ship, aware of the tragedy that had struck the Spafford family, summoned Horatio to tell him that they were now passing over the spot where the shipwreck had occurred.1

As Horatio thought about his daughters, words of comfort and hope filled his heart and mind. He wrote them down, and they have since become a well-beloved hymn:

It is well

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrow like sea billows roll –

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know

It is well, it is well with my soul

Perhaps, we cannot always say that everything is well in all aspects of our lives. There will always be storms to face, and sometimes tragedies. But with faith in a loving God and with trust in His divine help, we can confidently say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.

For more related sermons

A Saviour has been born 

Peace on Earth 

Peace Not Pieces 

Christmas – A Message of Hope