Did Jesus Come to Bring Peace at Christmas? - Radical

Did Jesus Come to Bring Peace at Christmas?

At Christmas, we naturally associate the coming of Jesus with peace. He was, after all, the promised “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), and the angels announced his birth like this,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

Even unbelievers know that Christmas is a time for peace on earth. However, it’s not as common this time of year to hear these words from Jesus to his disciples,

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

Christmas Peace

Now it sounds like Christmas peace has been replaced with a deadly weapon. But what about the glad tidings announced by the angels? Did Jesus change course? Did he get angry with His opponents and decide to scrap the whole “peace on earth” idea? How can we make sense of this?

To begin with, God’s wisdom is perfect and his purposes are unstoppable, so we know he didn’t change his mind or have his plans for peace thwarted. We also know that he doesn’t lie, so he isn’t contradicting himself. I think we can get at the answer by asking a follow-up question: What kind of peace are we talking about?

At one level Jesus did come to bring peace. He was the promised Messiah who came to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God was visiting sinful men, not with the judgment they deserved, but with the peace of His salvation. So in that sense, yes, Jesus clearly came to bring peace at Christmas.

The Truth of the Gospel

But that’s not the whole story. Jesus didn’t come to bring a blanket peace offer, a pardon for all people everywhere regardless of their response to him. The peace that Jesus brings comes only to those who, by God’s grace, turn from their sins and believe the gospel. However, most people in Jesus’ day rejected him; the same is true today.

Those who follow Jesus can expect to be hated by the world. This is why Jesus told his disciples that he came not to bring peace, but a sword. Even close relatives would be divided over him: “A person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:36). Jesus slices right through humanity, dividing those who are at peace with God from those who are his enemies.

Following Jesus does not lead to peace with the world, not even at Christmas. In some parts of the world, this is more obvious than in others. Nevertheless, as believers, we rightly associate this time of year with peace, for the Son of God took on flesh to secure our peace with God. As for worldwide peace, however, that will have to wait for a new heaven and a new earth.

David Burnette serves as the Chief Editor for Radical. He lives with his wife and three kids in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves as an elder at Philadelphia Baptist Church. He received his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Less than 1% of all money given to missions goes to unreached people and places.*

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Let's change that!