“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).
How well did Jacob Marley, the business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge, know this! In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the spectral Marley groans under the weight of the chain he forged in life, links heavy with the cash-boxes, deeds, keys and ledgers that obsessed him while on earth. Instead of making mankind his business, Marley made money his business, and he paid dearly for it. As punishment, Marley is doomed to wander the earth to witness the happiness that he might have shared in his mortal life. As he tells Scrooge, “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.”
What would bring you peace? More money? A stock market crash or common thief could rob you of your assets in a blink of an eye. Health? A fit body is a precious thing, but all of us will eventually decline and die. How about a great relationship? A friend or mate is a wonderful blessing, but people make poor gods.
We all want peace, but nothing on earth can give it. But Jesus can. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
The New Testament word for peace means “to reconcile or join.” When we accept the reconciliation that God provides and join forces with Jesus, we will have peace. Some missionary Bible translators were working hard to get this concept across in a particular tribal language. At last, a native who was working with them found a combination of words that captured the idea—“a heart that sits down.” So they translated John 14:27 as having Jesus say, “I will make your heart sit down.” When the restless heart sits down with Jesus, there is peace. The Glorified Christ paints a beautiful picture of this “sit-down peace” when He says, “Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). The scene invokes a quiet room in the evening as family members sit down to the main meal of the day, when conversation is intimate and bonds are deepened.
Ironically, this season of “peace on earth, goodwill toward all” can be anything but. Because of his sins, Marley found no peace at Christmas, and many in the real world don’t discover it, either. Christmas has become a very neurotic time of the year. Folks wear themselves out by attending every party they are invited to, drinking too much, spending too much and trotting out old grudges with the turkey. Finally, surrounded by crumpled gift wrapping and a needle-shedding tree, exhausted and empty, they wonder, “Is this what Christmas is all about?”
It’s not. The hurricane of a secular Christmas carries winds that blow us in many frantic directions. But the true Christmas—the one that God designed—is the eye of the hurricane. For Christmas is Jesus, and where Jesus is, there is peace.