“Depart in Peace”… but “a sword will pierce your soul.” – the sorta good news at Christmas is actually wonderful news.
This familiar and beloved oracle offers to Judah, driven as it is to distress, darkness, gloom, and anguish, yet another chance in the world. The poetic oracle beginning in 9:2 is introduced by what seems to be a prose transition in 9:1. In the Hebrew text this verse 1 is the final verse of chapter 8, so that it looks back to the ominous judgment of 8:22 as well as forward to the promised well-being of the oracle… That “darkness into light,” moreover, evokes unrestrained celebration and rejoicing (v. 3). The poet, in an attempt to voice the depth and power of joy, cites two parallel situations of joy, the most extreme, exuberant cases thinkable. – Walter Bruggeman
That loneliness can envelop you in a loud room full of voices, when you stand at the window and watch the dusk thicken, when you turn out the last light. To cross even the vast blackness of the Milky Way alone would take one hundred thousand years, traveling at the blurring speed of light. You turn this page under a roof, in a country, on a continent, near an ocean, on a planet —a pinpoint of a planet, a spinning orb waiting in the dark, waiting in the ache of Advent. You, this speck on a speck, floating in a ray of light, on a pale-blue dot suspended in the lonely blackness of space. You can sit in the dark and feel the reverberating echo of Carl Sagan’s words through our impossible emptiness, like a blaring headline for the world: “In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” That is what one of our wise men decreed to us who are living, walking, dying in the darkness —that there’s “no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
No hint of help. No rumor of relief. No sign of saving. For us waiting through the night, waiting through the dark. And then . . . there it comes to the waiting, to the leaning, to the cold —a dawn! Light! Light! Not mere candles wavering in the face of the black but a dawn —a dawn to crack back the black, to pry up the dark with bright shards, to peel it back and flood the cold room with light.
– Ann VosKamp
Peace for whom? There is a somber note sounded in the angels’ praise. (Luke 2:12–14) Peace among men on whom his favor rests. Peace among men with whom he is pleased. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So Christmas does not bring peace to all. “This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). Or as the aged Simeon said when he saw the child Jesus, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against… that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34–35). O, how many there are who look out on a bleak and chilly Christmas day and see no more than that.
“He came to his own and his own received him not, but to as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on his name.” It was only to his disciples that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The people who enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding are those who in everything by prayer and supplication let their requests be made known to God.
The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to [people] with whom he is pleased—[people] who would believe.
– John Piper