He whose advent into the world angels heralded, saying, “on earth peace, good will toward men,” left the world prophesying of “wars and rumours of wars.” Even as another year passes, the world knows the grim reality of His prophetic word.
What then? Was there some mistake in the annunciation of the angels? Or did Christ discover that He could not usher in peace and therefore uttered His prophecy of pessimism? No—between the angels’ proclamation of peace and the Divine pronouncement of war came the human choice: “Crucify Him … we have no king but Caesar.” Since then the world has had its Caesars and wars.
But God took the clenched fist of man raised against His Son and wrought through it a greater, more needful work of grace for man. It was in the heart of man to crucify the Son of God, but it had been eternally in the heart of God to offer up His Son as a sacrifice for our sin: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). Man meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
It lay in the realm of possibility for Divine omnipotence to set up by sheer power a reign of righteousness and outward peace over an unwilling and lost race. But to do such would be to leave wholly unsolved the question of sin, which in its very essence separates from God and sets man at variance with his fellowmen. Such a reign could offer no new birth, no reconciliation to God, nor could it destroy the power of death and bring eternal life.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to be King over a sinful and dying race—to be Prince of peace where there is no peace. Rather, He came to establish a kingdom of redeemed souls—freed from the penalty and bondage of sin. He came to be a Saviour. Divine foreordination and human free will met to nail Him on the cross to bear there the penalty of our sin, so that God could righteously forgive sinners and implant His own life in receptive hearts. Over such hearts—redeemed and cleansed—Christ begins an eternal reign. In such hearts there is peace—deep, abiding peace.
Peace has not failed! While world peace awaits His coming again, right now He offers individual peace of heart to each one who will trust Him as Saviour. You may have the forgiveness of sins and become a possessor of eternal life this very moment if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
—Willard M. Aldrich (adapted)