“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
“Peace on earth!” Had the world ever heard more glorious words than those announced by heralding angels! Just imagine yourself one of those shepherds sitting around a campfire and suddenly hearing angel voices piercing the night sky with shouts of joy: “Peace! Peace! Peace!” All that a poor shepherd or king might have hoped for in riches, success, and good fortune, is eclipsed by peace! And not just individual peace, but peace for the world! God’s peace for the world is the clear message of Christmas, the clear message of God’s news about Jesus.
Today’s scripture says that God was “pleased”, delighted, and happy to put right “all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of the cross.” Wherever God saw enmity and hostility, He brought peace through the excruciating shame of the cross. As measureless as the glory won by Jesus’ cross, so was its suffering.
Theologian C. Baxter Kruger imagines God sending His Son on the redemptive mission to bear the world’s degradation and shame:
“Go into the far country, plunge yourself into its ruin, alienation, brokenness, darkness and estrangement, plunge yourself into the skein of their guilt and corruption, and undo it, unravel it, destroy it, and bring them to me.” (C. Baxter Kruger, God Is For Us)
“Bring them to me!” This was the Son of God’s mission! God did not remain in high heaven removed from our plight, but came to take on and to trample down our dereliction. God made it His own. He did not shun the Virgin’s womb, but bent low in making Himself a helpless infant in a feeding trough for animals. He had to be carried by Joseph and Mary into an alien country to escape slaughter by a crazed king. Throughout Jesus’ life He willingly took on rejection and hatred so that His life ended like it began: in a world that had no room for Him.
Jesus could have called on “twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53) to rescue Him, but chose the cross to save us from everything that separates us from God. The worst that evil could do to Jesus was to kill Him, but by His cross He exhausted the power of death.
Christianity’s first systematic theologian, Irenaeus (A. D. 130-202), praises God’s incarnate Son “…who did, through his transcendent love, become what we are, that he might bring us to be even what he is in himself.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies) More recently, C. S. Lewis wrote: “The Son of God became man to enable men to become sons of God.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity) This is God’s great reconciliation, by which He took our guilt and shame in order to give to us His life and glory.
Jesus is “pleased” in His great love to heal us unlike any other physician heals. The Great Physician does not diagnose our disease, prescribe remedy, and go His way. Rather, Jesus heals by becoming the patient. He takes our disease of sin and death upon Himself so that by His life He heals us.
Thus, God dispatches an angel announcing “Peace on earth!” God’s peace for us is more than a holiday greeting or word on a Christmas card. God’s peace is the hard won victory of Jesus through the blood of the cross!
- What does Jesus’ cross mean to you?
- Take a few moments to talk with Jesus about what He did for you on the cross.