Christmas provides temporary relief to the world’s problems, where for a brief while we let the good part inside us have a chance to shine, but then we’re right back to another year of fighting traffic, more disasters, terrorist attacks and accidents, family health and financial problems, poor quality appliances breaking down, the car needing constant repairs, children’s needs becoming ever more expensive, problems with school bullies and insensitive neighbours – and on and on it goes.
Christmas in its traditional secular form, therefore, can at best only offer temporary relief, and for many people Christmas doesn’t even offer that. But there is a side to Christmas, that got Christmas started in the first place, that offers permanent relief. It was predicted by an angel, that with Christ’s birth a new era of peace would begin, and that was confirmed later by Jesus in John 14:27, when he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
Jesus said this to his disciples who were about to experience anything but peace. They would be scoffed at, bullied and killed, which in this world is a cause for much grief and heartache, as we see in bullied children who kill themselves. The world’s solution to such insulting behaviour, therefore, is to come out fighting, defend one’s national honour and personal dignity, and to hit back, like the immediate response from politicians to a terrorist attack.
But Jesus didn’t offer the peace of this world that comes with revenge, justice for victims, getting one’s own back, or the satisfaction of being vindicated. It didn’t come from seeing bullies and terrorists publicly humiliated or killed, either. Nor did it come from putting someone in his place, or outgunning someone in a debate or argument, or winning a court case, because all those things, just like Christmas, only offer temporary relief, and the hurts never really heal.
What Jesus offered by comparison was totally different. He’d learnt from a lifelong relationship with the Father that peace can only come from loving the Father and doing exactly what his Father commanded (John 14:31). Jesus, therefore, was the only one who knew the source of peace, the only human being who’d ever experienced this peace personally, and the only one who could make it real in our lives too, by making his home in us and living the peace he’s experienced in us (verse 23).
And those who believed it would experience it, and every Christmas be reminded of it too, that the answer to the world’s problems is the peace Jesus experiences that he now lives in us.