The Path to Peace

by | Dec 17, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor Chuck Holiday

Scripture: Luke 1:57-80

John the Baptist’s mission was to prepare the way for the Prince of Peace who would provide a path to peace for those living in darkness and under the shadow of death.


Morning great to see you all this morning glad you made it through the dreary uh you know weekend and and uh now we have some Gospel Light to cheer us up can be it can be a little dark and Drury outside but it’s h the gospel is going to give us good news and it’s going to give us a cheery heart um we’ve been talking about this journey to Joy that David has been leading us through in in this Advent season and um uh today the the title is the path to peace in zechariah’s Prophecy he he concludes his his words or that beautiful beautiful promise that the Messiah when he comes will guide our feet into the path of peace can’t be any Joy can there really without peace peace is what we long for it’s the uh answers the deepest questions of our hearts can there be peace I mean that’s what the people in Ukraine are asking can there be peace that’s what the people in Israel are asking uh that’s what we’re asking aren’t there sometimes you know just can there be peace in America again can there be peace between the Republicans and the Democrats can there be peace between the rich and the poor can there be peace between the religious and the irreligious can there be peace and and in our personal lives aren’t there some broken places you know in our own in our own families with our best friends where where that’s the question our hearts are are just yearning for an answer to can there be peace and my friends um the Christmas message is that there is a path to peace and with peace comes amazing Joy you know there’s a there’s a interesting story and it seems to be founded on on true eyewitness testimony some of you have probably heard it the Christmas truth truths in the middle of World War I in in h 1914 had just the most amazing thing it was spontaneous it wasn’t orchestrated uh it didn’t come down from orders from above but these uh German soldiers you know about 100 200 300 yards uh away from the The Trenches of the British uh found themselves on Christmas Eve and and it broke out at different times some Christmas Eve some some parts of the the front on Christmas day but in that General vicinity of Christmas along the lines a number of different locations independent from one another a true broke out it’s just truly the most amazing thing there’s there’s number of eyewitness accounts that you can you can easily look up on uh YouTube but uh here’s a here’s a eyewitness testimony from from a British private he said we were in the front line we were about 300 yards from the Germans and we had I think on Christmas Eve we’d been singing carols and this and that and the other and the Germans had been doing the same thing and we’d been shouting to each other sometimes rude remarks more often just joking remarks anyway eventually a German said tomorrow you know shoot we know shoot in the morning came and we didn’t shoot and they didn’t shoot so then we began to pop our heads over the side and jump jump out quickly and and quickly get down again in case they did shoot but they didn’t shoot and then we saw a German standing up waving his arms and we didn’t shoot and so on and so it gradually

grew what a beautiful picture of what Christmas can do but but it wasn’t Santa Claus that did that was it it was the Prince of Peace it was the coming in the celebration of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ you know this

um there is a path to peace but it’s not from winning a war it’s not from winning an election it’s not through a promotion at work or finding that perfect job or getting that grade on that test or finding a new friend group at school there’s a path of Peace true lasting peace through a relationship with the Prince of Peace yes that’s the name Isaiah gave to our Savior Jesus the prince of peace now that word peace it’s really it’s the Hebrew word Shalom if you go to Israel they they say and I haven’t been there yet but a lot of you have I mean that’s the common greeting you know we say hey how are you good morning they say shalom and when they leave they say shalom and and peace doesn’t really translate it uh accurately well not it’s not peace is okay sometimes it’s peace sometimes it’s rest rest but but it’s deeper than than all those things uh it’s it’s the the concept is that you’re that you’re restored you’re well you’re you’re made whole again it’s it’s used in Exodus 21 and 22 when uh when if somebody robs your Robs you um part of the part of the process is you have to restore what was taken it and that word the verb Shalom which is of the same root is Shalom is is used throughout that passage many many times the point is what what does Shalom mean it means to be made whole to be re to have everything that’s been lost be restored that’s the that’s the root of this concept of peace and of course you know uh in our Rebellion against God we’ve lost a lot we’ve lost everything really and the concept of Shalom is there will be a day when everything that’s been lost everything that’s been taken everything that you have forfeited will be restored it’s it’s uh capturing GK I mean uh tolk’s great line the day will come when everything sad will come untrue that’s that’s Shalom that’s that’s what shalom means um when when Joseph was when inquiring about his his aged father in Genesis he the question is uh

is he Shalom that was the word is he Shalom is he well is his health well is is he is he okay are his spirits revived how is my father Shalom My Father the question and um my friends that’s that’s the question I mean that that God has for each of us I think today is how how’s your Shalom is it well with you are you okay in numbers six uh in in the great blessing that God commanded Aaron and his sons to give to the people um the the great

promise in Numbers Chapter 6 let me just take a minute to find it thought I had it um it’s beautiful beautiful blessing it says the Lord said to Moses tell Aaron and his sons this is how you are to bless the Israelites say to them the Lord bless you and keep you the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you the Lord turn his face toward you and give you

shalom it’s the summation of the whole

blessing that God would give you Shalom and so in Isaiah 9ine when Isaiah is telling us about the one who is to come and restore all things he shall be called The Prince of Shalom he’s the one who lived in Shalom he’s the one who can bring Shalom when Jesus rose from the dead and he first greeted his disciples do you remember what he said to them what his greeting was Shalom said it three times in John chapter 20 every time he every time he greeted them Shalom I give you my peace so my friends what is the path to peace path to peace is the path to the Prince of Peace let’s go back to the first part of this reading it’s it’s interesting uh all the relatives assumed that this boy John the Baptist would be called Zachariah after his father it’s an honor to be a named after your father I’m named after my father and my grandfather my son’s named after them my my grandson is named after them uh but they said no Zachariah as wonderful as that would be you’re to call this boy John and and the story is clear you know it’s uh against all the opposition of the neighbors that zachar could finally speak and settled the matter no his name is to be John John means Yahweh is gracious Yahweh

gives why well of of course the obvious thing to the neighbors was well yeah I guess that makes sense because God clearly gave them this boy they were too old to have a a baby this is a miracle baby if ever there was one um and so it’s obvious that what they’re thinking is no this boy is a gift but but it was so much bigger than that wasn’t it his name was to be John because his message is about the Prince of Peace his John John was a gift to his parents but John was a gift to the world and Zechariah goes on to tell us why his name is going to be John because this is the one that’s going to to prepare the way for messiah this is the one who is who has been promised in the Old Testament to come as a forerunner to to bring us to the path of peace my friends the the first thing I just want this is uh just a couple of quick points here but they’re so important um so that we can have peace today no matter what’s going on in your life in your heart whatever diagnosis you’re waiting for uh whatever impending news is hanging over your head there is the promise of Peace today before you walk out of this room that’s how immediate and instant it can it can be so let’s let’s see what God says he says the first first of all you know we have to get this the beginning of the good news is bad news it’s often the case in in in our lives isn’t it sometimes before we can hear the good news we have to hear the bad

news so it’s interesting John the Baptist whose name means God is good and God is

gracious uh was this this interesting character uh people didn’t see John and think oh that looks encouraging he was out in the wilderness he was a loner he was dressed you know minimally with animal skins he he foraged for his food and he generally had a difficult message his message was you people are in trouble and you need to repent not you know what we would think of as an encouraging Prophet more in line with most of the Old Testament prophets now it’s it is it is interesting in in Mark uh in Mark’s gospel he say this is how Mark’s gospel Begins the beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ the son of God it is written the prophet Isaiah in the prophet Isaiah I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way a voice of one calling in the desert prepare the the way the Lord and make paths straight paths for him and so John came baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of of

repentance Mark says let me tell you about the good news of Jesus now it starts with John the Baptist who said you need to repent and it’s like all of a sudden well that doesn’t sound like good news that sounds like terrible news that sounds like horrible news but but my friends uh if you have a if you have cancer it’s not good news for the doctor to tell you it’s it’s just a headache and it’s going to pass

tomorrow if you have cancer it’s good news to find out you have cancer it it never feels like good news when you get the

diagnosis but the path to a cure is to accept the the radical nature of what’s

wrong and so the good news begins with with hard news with bad news essentially the news is cheer up this is what my one of my mentors used to always say cheer up you’re so much worse than you

think cheer up you’re so much worse than you think you’re not g to get there by trying harder you’re not going to get there by giving more money you’re not going to get there by uh getting up earlier and reading your Bible more that’s not how you’re gonna get there you’re way way too big a sinner for

that and that’s the only place you can go isn’t

it and so the bad news turns into good news because there is a remedy for the cancer of your soul and it’s through the prince of peace now you know moving moving on to the quickly to the next point is so what what was the bad news what was the bad news specifically well in the words of the comic strip Pogo we have met the enemy and he is us that was the bad news GK chesterton’s response to the the magazine the uh newspaper uh invitation to to the edit the question what is wrong with the world in his two two-word response dear sir I am sincerely yours GK

Chesterton what is wrong with the world oh that’s easy I am now that doesn’t necessarily feel like good news but it it’s wonderful news because that’s the only thing you can do anything about this essentially was a shock to the people who were hearing this message now when I promise you I I don’t know for sure but I do know when zachariah’s prophecy uh says God’s going to raise up somebody a messiah for us he says this is this is John the Baptist message God’s Gonna he’s going to send Messiah and he’s and he’s bring verse 71 he’s going to bring Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us to show Mercy to our fathers and to remember His Holy Covenant the oath he swore to Our Father Abraham to rescue us from the hand of our enemies and to enable us to serve him without fear in Holiness and righteousness before him all our days now don’t aren’t you aren’t you sure I’m sure when they heard that what they thought they were an occupied country they had Roman oppressors who prevented them from worshiping as freely as they wanted to and felt like they needed to and and we putting this burden of Taxation on them that we were being crushed and so when they heard those words I’m sure what they heard was the Messiah is going to give us a deliverance from Rome well it it it didn’t mean less than that but it meant so much more than that because when they heard enemy what they heard was

wrong and what was the bad news that John had for them your enemy is not out there as much as he is in here your enemy is Rome the Bible says we have three enemies the World the Flesh and the devil the world can be our enemy the world is our enemy the devil certainly is our enemy but but what is the Real Enemy that gives power to those other enemies it’s the enemy in

here it’s it’s the selfish self-protect Ive self-reliant self-indulgent nature that I struggle with it’s in me it’s not outside of me and and John go or zechariah’s prophecy goes on to to focus on that verse verse 77 to give his people the knowledge of Salvation what through what the Forgiveness of their [Music] sins you see he’s turning he’s turning the pointing finger around he said God could deliver you from wrong but if that’s all he did it wouldn’t help a bit because you would become the

oppressors it’s through the Forgiveness of our sins now I I want you to just think about this for a minute in terms of your relationships you know when we have relationship struggles in our marriages uh with our children children with our parents with our very very close friends isn’t it always the other person’s

fault I mean really think about your car ride here this morning think about your car ride here to church this morning it’s hard for more more than one person in a car to to get to church with joy I do fine when when I come early and Debbie comes later she does fine but when we try to do it together now isn’t it true for you because somebody’s always making somebody else late you know and and so doesn’t the conversation usually go something like I you it could be moms to your children husbands to wives wives to children but but honey I know I should not have spoken to you that way but okay started good then you just ruined it but isn’t that I mean we can’t not do

that I I should not have said that I should not have raised my

voice but and there’s always a reason out there for what’s wrong in here and John says I wish it were that easy but it’s not what’s wrong is in here that’s the way you respond to what’s out there okay it’s my friends the path to peace is through the Forgiveness of my sins think think politically think in a macro level in our society right now um I I am in so many conversations with most of you but I mean and I join right in what’s wrong with the this the people in our society who are determined to be

victims why can’t they realize there’s no future in that there’s no hope in that there’s no growth in that all these people in our culture who are determined to make themselves

victims right well what are we saying and I believe that by the way I don’t think it’s helping them at all but but when I’m saying that what am I saying the problem is out there it’s those

people and trust me they’re they’re they’re breakfasts go much different their conversations are not about them their conversations about what’s wrong with those people who have so much now now all I want to say is please don’t I’m not getting into a political thing here all I want to say is we share the same common DET we are both sure that the problem is out there it’s the other guy it’s their way of thinking can we at least agree about that that we sit around and talk about the people who who are just lost in their victimhood and we may be right but the point is who are we who are we pointing to it’s the other guy it’s the other perspective the problem the enemy The Real Enemy is always out there and and John the Baptist is saying my friends that’s not the path to peace the path to peace is through the Forgiveness of your

Sins Not through showing the other guy his

sins okay now just to close this out there is a prince of peace his name is Jesus the promised one when they came to John and said are you him what did he say no there’s one greater than me I’m not worthy to untie his

shoes it’s not me I’m his messenger I can bring you to him but it’s not me by the way you it just occurred to me but you know what we’re all John the Baptist aren’t we this this one campaign that we’re on you can’t save anybody but isn’t it cool that God has sent you to prepare the way for messiah to come into somebody’s life you and I I I talked to a lady at the and I don’t do this very well but I’m this campaign has been reminding me you know so I’d get in my car fixed the other day and I talk to the lady and and uh and I I I use some of my own advice I tell everybody else is to you know we live in a still a pretty churchy culture here in in Northeast Florida we can get away with this I just said hey do you have a do you have a place to worship on Sunday on Christmas Eve and she said no but I really man I need to go back to church I don’t have any place to worship she said where do you go to church I said I go to that little white building on beach balore you know I said you’d be welcome to come she said I might do that and I thought wow now in New York that would be offensive you know in Seattle that would be offensive it still is okay in Jacksonville it’s okay to assume that the your neighbors probably celebrate Christmas but they most a lot of them don’t know where to go to celebrate we not sure where they’d be welcome and that’s an easy thing but you know we can be John the Baptist to somebody we can prepare the way of the Lord that’s G to be fun amen right yes U but Jesus uh is the prince of pees not John now you know in Luke 3 just the next chapter where we get into to John’s message um you know basically they come to John and they say look okay you got us scared what do we need to do what do we need to do and first he says to the to the religious people to the Pharisees and the religious leaders this is more clear in the other gospels than it is in Luke he said what I don’t have any hope for you he he says you you bunch of snakes who warned you my message isn’t even for you because there’s not anything in you that’s looking for for this message I can’t even help you but is what he says but then he says to the to the people who knew they were Sinners you know to the tax collectors he says well just stop being selfish stop charging more than you have to too he says if if you have two coats give one give one to somebody who doesn’t have one and and if you have enough food give your give some food to people who don’t don’t have any he says to the soldiers you know quit quit extorting people for money don’t take bribes basically he’s just saying stop being selfish stop being self-reliant um but he knew they couldn’t do it it’s like when when the rich man came to Jesus and said why I think I kept all the the Commandments What what is there anything else I need to do what did Jesus say oh yeah just he just give away all your money give it all to the poor and then you’ll be good now because Jesus knew that’s the thing he could not do he would not do that now what was Jesus point I want you to know that it’s worse than you think

cheer up you’re so much worse than you think I

mean that’s what he says to each one of us he is gonna ask you to do something that you’re gonna say I can’t do

that and he said you’re right you can’t do it unless I do something for you and so John says there’s one coming who’s going to give you a new record and a new

heart he’s going to give you a new record with God a new standing with God because he’s gonna come and he’s going to die on a cross for the Forgiveness of all your

sins and he’s going to give you a new heart now your new heart’s going to help you do better but you’re not going to do enough even with your new heart but he’s going to give you a new want to he’s going to give you a new joy and giving yourself away he’s going to give you a new joy and a contentment and a peace even in hard circumstances because you have a new heart it’s his heart that he promised to give you and and it’s going to show Malachi 4 you know which we which Dave read for us earlier is U the when when Malachi the last last chapter the last verses in the Old Testament talk about John the Baptist coming and uh what does he say I will send you the Prophet Elijah he’s talking about John the Baptist he’s going to come in the spirit of Elijah he’s going to look a lot like Elijah he’s going to be the new Elijah I will send him before the great and Dreadful day of the Lord comes and he listen to this what is the what is what is the Messiah going to do when he comes John the Baptist is his is for he’s going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers my friends there are some hurts in our families that we can’t budge because the problems are not out there they’re in

here and we would love peace if she could come to me first and just acknowledge what she’s done

it’s easy to go second it’s it’s without God’s grace you can’t go first to see my sin before that other person addresses how they have wronged me because there’s something in our hearts self-justification Revenge self- protection fear of getting hurt again there’s something so deep in us nothing will budget to accept a new heart from Messiah and the awareness that I am at peace no matter what happens in this relationship God the Prince of Peace has made peace between him and me and now I’m free to be a peacemaker with others he says this is how you’re going to know that it’s

real God God has something for each of us

today it’s it’s a joy that is deeper than just a happy day it’s a joy of that comes only through the path to peace that comes only through Messiah who will forgive your sins and cleanse your heart and free you to live for him and for others as best you can knowing when you fail there is always forgiveness for all your sins amen

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