On this Christmas day I was doing what I often do just thinking about the year and all that I am thankful for. I was reading the Christmas story in Luke 2 and Matthew 2 and in my heart, not even out loud, I was asking the Lord to show me something new in this very familiar story. Sure enough it happened! Here’s what I saw; Luke 2:14 in the NASB says, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” As I read this I was reminded that peace is not automatic even for those of us who know Jesus. I looked up a few references about peace and I found myself at one of the saddest, most powerful scene in the story of Jesus’s life, at least for me.
I want to invite you for just a minute to use your God given imagination and picture yourself a witness to this scene. Imagine you are a Jew who lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’s life. You’ve heard a lot about him but have never actually met him. You’re heading home just to visit friends and family and on your way to town you see this man on the side of the road in obvious agony. He’s crying uncontrollably over what, you have no idea? You don’t really know what’s going on? It’s one of those awkward moments you weren’t supposed to see. This person, unknown to you, slowly gains His composure and as he does he says this;
“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”
I don’t know about you but these words provokes so many questions for me. Who was he talking about? Why was peace hidden form their eyes? Why kept them from being able to see it? Is it even possible that the destruction of these people would have been avoided if they just recognized that God visited them? It remind me of what Jesus said in Matthew 13:15;
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’
I need to point out something very important in this passage, critically important actually. Notice that
Jesus says they can’t see, hear or understand because “the hearts of these people are hardened.” Last time I checked seeing and hearing were natural senses? Or are they? In case you’ve never noticed this Jesus often spoke of spiritual realities as simply and as everyday as he did natural realities. I don’t have time to go to deep into this but all my life I don’t think I really understood John 3:3 which says “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Up until a few years ago when the Lord “opened my eyes”, spiritually speaking, I always thought that verse meant unless your saved, born again, you can’t go to heaven. Though it’s true according to scripture salvation is required to get to heaven that’s not what Jesus said in this verse. Here’s how I would say it now, unless you are born by the Spirit of God you cannot see the realities of the Kingdom of God which is Spiritual. God is Spirit and so is His Kingdom. We, mankind, now need to be born again because our spirit died at the fall. God created us “in His image” when Adam and Eve fell what died in them was their spirit, they now became “mere men” as Paul said in Corinthians. Being born again simply restores to us the spiritual part of who we were created to be. It restores our sight spiritually speaking. “Peace is hidden from your eyes” as Jesus said until this happens. There is so much more I could say but I’d like to ask you to consider something very profound, Jesus has a wish on this Christmas day. Listen again to what he said and would you consider that He is saying this right to you? “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.” Not tomorrow or next week “today”. John Newton the famous preacher captured what may be the most famous song in the world in Amazing Grace. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was lost but now I’m found “was blind but now I see”. That could be you today if you would simple reach out to Jesus by faith. He, Jesus really is, “the way”, “the truth” and “the life.” My heart felt wish is that Jesus’s heart felt wish would be a reality in your life even on this Christmas day!