Christmas… Political Disruption and the Paradox of Peace

Maybe you don’t often associate Christmas with politics. But the birth of Jesus Christ and His ensuing message disrupted politics from the day He was born right through to our day. And it will continue to do so until He comes a second time.

Ancient prophecy revealed that Jesus would disrupt all government — it would be placed on His shoulders:

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6)

And…all authority would be given Him.  (Matt. 28:18)

Shortly after Jesus was born, wise men from the east disrupted all of Jerusalem and its ruling king Herod. They announced the newly born king of the Jews (Jesus) as they inquired of His whereabouts, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  (Matthew 2:2)

Incredible! Wise men from afar came not only to visit, but to worship this newborn King!

Disruption

And Herod was disturbed. He hated the slightest threat to his power. He had his teachers of the law look up the ancient prophecies of where “the Christ” was to be born. It was revealed that it would be in Bethlehem. He secretly told the wise men to bring back word when they found the child so he could worship him too. I wonder if he kept his teeth from clenching when he asked them.

The wise men did find the child in Bethlehem. They were overjoyed and worshipped Him. They opened their treasures and gave liberally…. gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But then God revealed to them in a dream not to go back to Herod but to go home another way.

When Herod realized he had been outwitted, he was furious. In his crazy murderous style, he ordered all boys 2 years old and under in and around Bethlehem to be killed. He would not risk the threat of this newborn king.

Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph, also warned in a dream, had taken flight to Egypt with Jesus to avoid Herod’s rage.

Think of some of the authoritative titles for Jesus that the teachers of the law would have come across. Ruler, Shepherd, Saviour, Lord, King, Christ, Prince of Peace, Eternal Father, Mighty God. No wonder Herod was greatly disrupted. He knew what the arrival of this King meant: disruption to his reign and a threat of subjection to this new king. Wise men showing up from distant lands with impressionable amounts of goods was no ordinary occurrence. The last time something similar had happened was for King Solomon. Could it be that someone greater than Solomon was here?  (Matt. 12:42)

Yes. Someone greater than Solomon was here. Solomon’s kingdom represented a time of temporary peace on earth. With the arrival of King Jesus, true and lasting peace was initiated, peace with far greater significance. His name even includes Prince of Peace. Notice through the disruption of His arrival, came also the proclamation of peace on earth. It was a message for those “on whom God’s favour would rest” (Luke 2:14). Jesus came to make the way of peace with God now possible (reconciliation). He came to save His people from their sins (redemption) by dying on a cross to pay the price for them. Sin separates people from God. With sin paid for, any who would believe in Jesus were set free to reconnect with God again. God’s favour would rest on them because of Jesus.

In and through this He ushered in the arrival of a new Kingdom… a redemptive one, with the purpose of not only forgiveness of sins, but for the making of all things new. The failed kingdoms of history were supplanted by this new eternal Kingdom. All rulers, authorities, and governments would be subject to this promised One, this Saviour… King Jesus, Lord over all.

Governments that deny this or do not recognize this set themselves up against Jesus and His Kingdom coming, whether covertly or overtly. Jesus and His early followers disrupted a government culture that insisted “Caesar is Lord”. The opposing new Kingdom message was (and still is) “Jesus is Lord” as the distinct means unto salvation (Acts 4:12, John 14:6, Romans 10:9) with a distinct understanding of Christ’s Lordship over all. It became a life confession, most often met with the potential of a death sentence. This still remains true today.

“I did not come to bring peace.”

And so continues the tension, the disruption. Because Jesus said that’s how it would be. “Do not suppose I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34) That’s authoritative language, wherein lies the paradox. The gospel message itself, a message of “peace with God”, is a sword-like authoritative message that divides. Because it is a message that requires full allegiance to Christ and no one else, not even self. And a bit like Herod, we too hate a message that disrupts our little thrones. But this message of peace disrupts to the core. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) I think Jesus cares enough to not let us alone to our own ways.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) We are laid bare by the penetrating power of Jesus and His gospel, either by acceptance or rejection. We either join Him or oppose Him, acknowledge Him or ignore Him.

And how many governments throughout the centuries haven’t chosen to ignore the Lordship of Jesus Christ? As for today, we see a shifting towards “Caesar” once again attempting to be “Lord”. Government continues to enlarge its rule in our lives and squash out any representation of the authority of King Jesus. Government wants more say in our homes, our families, our children’s livelihood and education, our health, our worship, our businesses, the cars we buy, and the food we eat. There really is no end in sight. Statism is on the rise. Jesus set boundaries and authority guidelines for family, church, state, society and business — all of which are good and healthy to live by.  Statism has no boundaries.

Think how much effort has gone into erasing “Christmas” from our language. We are experiencing a super-spoofed version of ‘the Grinch who stole Christmas’. It’s been a decade-long endeavor to rename this time of year. It’s not Santa Claus and the gifts that are offensive or exclusive… no, people want to keep that. That’s now dubbed “holiday” season. It doesn’t matter how dumb it sounds. But it’s that ‘Christmas’ name that had to go because, well, it’s so Christ-like. People might get offended. Well, news flash…of course they would!! Christ and Christmas are offensive, when you capture the real message. Jesus Christ calls for a response…an allegiance, remember? It remains as disruptive as back in Herod’s day.

And mainstream media and politics lead the way with their wanting to cancel anything “Christmas”. You can almost picture “little Herods” all over the place squealing… “Kill it, I said! I don’t want to see a trace!” And so the political disruption continues.

How might we respond? It might be helpful to remind people that the disruptive message of Christmas is one of hope for all the world. It is a message of inclusion. It’s for everyone. It’s for all people groups, all ethnicities, all nations. But the challenge remains, it demands a response. You cannot remain neutral. Salvation is available to all, but “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2) That’s how it also remains a message of exclusion. Because many will ignore, disregard, or even detest Jesus and the message of Him (as did Herod) and be excluded from His Kingdom.

Our response will determine how we view authority including politics. All authority was given to Jesus, and the government will be upon His shoulders. So all authority falls under Jesus. This is the disruptive part. Still today. Most kings, presidents, and prime ministers, do not want to subject themselves to the rule of King Jesus. We can call them out on this and point them back to their rightful place of governance under King Jesus. Failing that, they will continue to fail at leadership, fail at governing, and have no peace.

“In me you may have peace.”

Which brings us right back to the excitement of the wise men who witnessed the coming of Jesus. They realized things were changing and better days were ahead. As many others would witness, Jesus represented a glimpse of God’s heavenly Kingdom on earth as He cast out demons, healed the sick, lifted the downcast, freed the captives, brought sight to the blind, called out false leaders, and brought a message of hope. He defeated sin, Satan, and death, rose from the grave, ascended on high, rules over all, and will come again to judge the earth. These facts and this message can encourage us, but they will continue to disrupt, with cosmic proportions, “the rulers, the authorities, and the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

We can be excited and comforted that our King Jesus rules over all governments still today. The paradox of peace flips… when we are disrupted by this world, we find peace in Jesus. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) His Kingdom is advancing through all the mess of today. In the mess, He is gathering more of His subjects, those who see and love and serve and worship and proclaim Him for who He is. Wise men did this; wise followers will still do this.

And when His gathering work is done, He will usher His Kingdom in with all its fullness bringing about eternal peace. That will be great!

So while we wait this Christmas, in the loudness or quietness, in the joy or in the pain, in blessings or in challenges, let’s aim to shift towards the excitement of those who saw the coming of Jesus for what it was… the arrival of the King of all kings and His heavenly Kingdom, the One worthy of all our worship. And let’s shift away from any Herod-like denial. Let’s deny ourselves and honour Jesus as Lord over ALL “thrones” in all our little earthly kingdoms.

“Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!”

“His dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away.”  Daniel 7:14


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