John 1:1-5 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
I have devoted these last few posts to reflecting upon this current season, known on the Christian calendar as "Advent". Advent is a word which means "coming" or "arrival". For the reader's convenience, I have included links to the last three Advent Sunday related posts:
Each Sunday of Advent prepares people to reflect on Christ's first "advent" or "coming".
The Song of Peace sung by the angels, and how early Christians recognized the only source of true peace
The first Sunday of Advent emphasized the theme of "hope"; the second, "faith"; the third, "joy". This fourth Sunday of Advent centers around the theme of "peace". The word most often translated "peace" in the New Testament indicates the result of reconciliation accomplished by the incarnation of the Son of God. Jesus came the first-time to live, die, rise and ascend (see John 1:14-18; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 1:18; 2:21-22; Revelation 1:8, 17-18). He, as God, became the babe in the cradle; to be the Savior on the cross; to rise victoriously from the grave; to ascend in majesty.
Some have referred to the fourth candle as the "Angel's candle" due to the words we read of the angels addressing the shepherds in Luke 2:14 -
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
There are eight songs or lyrical poems recorded in Luke's infancy narratives of Jesus' life in the first two chapters of his Gospel. Some of these songs have names derived from the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation which was used through the Middle Ages. The particular song in Luke 2:14 is called "gloria in excelsis deo" or "glory to God in the highest" or simply "gloria". I won't go too much into the incredible story of this phrase (we sing it in our modern hymn, "Angels we have Heard on High", however, there is a far older song which had liturgical use by Christians, who used an older Latin translation which predated the Vulgate). Christians from the early centuries following the Apostles recognized that the only source of peace is when we are focused on God through Jesus Christ - thus, "glory to God in the highest".
Whenever we think of "peace", we consider how Christ came into our world to bring about reconciliation between believing sinners and the Father (see John 16:33). Jesus came as the Mediator of peace with God (see 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1-2). Lighting the fourth Advent candle signifies the shining forth of the peace of God into the darkened human soul in need of Him at saving faith. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 reminds us -
"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."
In John 1:1-5, we find reference to Christ as He was in eternity. Jesus Christ was and ever remained God. When He came into this world, He brought unto Himself a truly human nature through the virginal conception of His humanity by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23). The uniting of true humanity and true Deity in the Person of the Son signaled the essence of His mission: to make definite the meeting place of God and man within Himself.
Such bringing together of God and man in One Person would be the pattern for the goal of salvation - reconciliation. To reconcile sinful man and Holy God results in peace. We read in Ephesians 2:13-18
"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father."
Consider Romans 5:1-5, which speaks more poignantly about this peace applied to the sinner at saving faith:
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Years ago there used to be bumper-stickers that read: "No Jesus, No Peace / Know Jesus, Know Peace". This play on words captures the heart of what this fourth Sunday in Advent is all about. Since Jesus came into our world over 2,000 years ago, hope, faith, joy and peace were made available to all who trust in Him by faith. May we look to Jesus and pray for His Second Advent. He is our hope. He is our faith. He is our joy. He is our peace.