Walker, MN

Christmas Eve                  ‘A Peace Better Than a Truce’

December 24, 2021                      Luke 2:1–20


Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,

If I say the words ‘The Great War,’  would you know what I’m referring to?  That would be – WWI.    It’s called ‘the great war’  in the same way we might refer to a massive flood as a ‘great flood’,  because it engulfed all of Europe.   WWI was also known as the ‘war to end all wars.’  Because it was so destructive,  people hoped it would be the last one.  Unfortunately,    it did not end all wars;  whoever coined that phrase does not understand Holy Scripture.

However,  there was a very unique Christmas story to come out of WWI;  it is attested to in journals & articles by eye witnesses;  altho,  as the years pass,  people are less likely to believe it.   It’s often called ‘the Christmas truce of 1914.’   Some say it’s a legend;  but the evidence points to it as true.   In fact, a year later,  prior to Christmas 1915,  there are official Army communiques with strict orders for foot soldiers NOT to fraternize with the enemy on Christmas.  That would be a strange order  if something had not happened the year before  to prompt such an order.   So,  what happened?


At the Belgium city of Ypres, [ip-ra]   on Dec. 24, 1914,  the ‘great war’ was about

5 months old,  & Belgium was called the Western Front.  On one side of this bloody conflict huddled the British & French armies;  on the other side, the Germans.   As the sun set,  confident that the fighting would not resume until morning,  German soldiers began to decorate their trenches with ‘tannenbaums’ or Christmas trees.  Then just before nightfall,  signs appeared from the German trenches which said: “You no shoot,  we no shoot.”   In some areas,  the soldiers of both sides  /laid down their guns, /sang carols, /exchanged small gifts, /& played soccer together.

Imagine being one of those soldiers in the trench and hearing that familiar carol,

‘Silent night, holy night!   All is calm, all is bright    Round yon virgin mother and child.       Holy Infant, so tender and mild,   Sleep in heavenly peace,      Sleep in heavenly peace.

In the Christmas Truce of 1914,  we have a parable of what God did for us that first Christmas Eve  when He called an end  to an even greater World War & destruction of human life.   He promised peace for all who would believe in the Christ child.


Let’s look a little more at that historic picture & parable.  It’s said that World War I began as a result of a single shot.  Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated as he left the town hall in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.   This is called the “shot heard ’round the world”  and it caused a series of domino events.   In just over a month,  most nations of Europe chose a side & went    to war.  That one shot led to millions of soldiers & civilians losing their lives.

But there was another war going on =far worse= one that had been going on much longer.

Like World War I,  it began with a single action.  That action took place in the Garden of Eden,  when Adam & Eve disobeyed God.   Before that day,  God and man had been at peace.

God even walked with Adam & Eve in the cool of the day  in their paradise garden.  But all of that was destroyed in one disobedient action against God.  The  ‘sin heard ‘round the world’  changed Adam & Eve,  from holy to unholy;  from ally & friend  to mortal enemy.

The result of that one single action  is that  all nature & creatures were affected,  and the entire human race was now at war with God.   While millions of soldiers faced death in WWI, the fact is,  every human being born since Adam  has been under a death sentence.  That’s why the Scriptures tell us,  in 1Cor.15,  “For as in Adam all die.”

For soldiers in WWI,  the odds of you dying were about one in three.  But in this battle of sin,  the odds of you dying are one-in-one;  100%.   ‘The wages of sin is death;  and,  the soul that sins shall die.’   Sin has made us enemies of God,  our death is certain.   Apart from His grace,  there is no hope for the war-criminal.   Our actions,  no matter how earthly noble, or good, or charitable  are not enough to pay the spiritual cost for our unholy condition before God.


As WW I raged into December of its first year,  the casualties were high.  But then came Christmas Eve 1914;  some call it a miracle.  Just one night earlier,  soldiers tried to sleep as bullets buzzed over their heads.  But on this night,  the soldiers heard the words of Christmas carols floating on the night air:  “I love Thee, Lord Jesus,  Look down from the sky,  and stay by my cradle  till morning is nigh.”

Only the fear of God,  & knowing of our sin,  and having trust in God’s Savior  could have worked in those soldiers’ hearts that Christmas Eve  to bring about a silent night filled with praises to God  rather than gunfire.   For that moment,  God was more important than a man-made war;  and life was more important than a general’s order.

Just over 1,900 years before that night,  a group of ordinary shepherd-men were keeping watch over a flock of sheep.  What happened next was also unique in mankind’s war.  Luke tells us.   An angel of the Lord appeared … and said to them,

“Fear not,  for behold,  I bring you good news of great joy  that will be for all the people.  For unto you

is born this day in the city of David a Savior,  who is Christ the Lord.” … And suddenly there was

…a multitude of the heavenly host  praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest,  and on earth

peace among those with whom He is pleased.”  (Luke 2)


On two nights, 1,900 years apart,  when a battle was raging  =one between God and man,  and the other in World War I=  God was glorified in spite of man’s plans.  When Jesus was born on that first Christmas Eve,  God’s glory & good news ‘for all people’ was declared.    That news is more powerful  than when one nation declares war on another.   For soldiers on both sides of ‘the great war,’ on that night on the western front,  the Spirit of God worked in their hearts,  honoring the birth of that one Christ for the whole world.  And they paused their hostilities for a time  to consider man’s sin,  and the promise of man’s savior.

God sent His Messiah to do something greater than to push a ‘pause’ button.  Jesus was not just born,  He went on to live & to die  in order to bring us one thing we cannot get on our own:  peace with God;  peace during life,  and peace after death.   That’s what the holy angels were pointing to.   Not a truce,  but a cross;  which was God’s war  to end all spiritual wars.

He annihilated His enemies with His ultimate victory.

Jesus suffering on the cross  canceled the rebellion that started in the Garden of Eden,  and has been continued by our sins.  His death on the cross paid the price for all of our spiritual treason & disobeying God’s holy commands in His Word.   At His death,  Jesus did not wave a white flag of surrender,  or  retreat & live to fight another day.’   He dropped ‘the bomb’.   It all ended when He declared,  “It is finished!”  He destroyed sin, death & the devil.

Because of His work,  all people,  of any nation,  can look to the Son of God  and sleep in heavenly peace.  Just as angels were there to announce Jesus’ birth,  so angels were there at His empty tomb  to announce that our war with God has ended in Christ.  We have His promise of forgiveness;  Jesus is the door to heaven & eternal peace.


WWI ended in June of 1918;  and going from war to peace changed the lives of soldiers, civilians & nations.  So this peace with God thru Christ changes our lives == in two ways:  our life in relation to God,  and in relationships with others.

Some people like the Christmas message of a Savior, & hope & peace,   but they doubt whether it really applies to them personally.   Why?  Some,  (maybe you),   are afraid that God doesn’t want you around  because of something you’ve done in your past.   The truth is,  we all have a past,  and things we’re not proud of.   We -also- all have a present,  which involves sin & guilt,  which does disqualify all of us  from deserving God’s attention;   sin does close the door of heaven.

However,  God’s promise & Savior is stronger than our sin.  God’s plan with Jesus was to show us grace,  & to remove our sin from us  by putting Himself in the line-of-fire  of God’s anger.   By the cross  He became our shield.

That’s what this night is all about = and it applies the whole year ‘round!  This historic night was all about God delivering to you His gifts of mercy & forgiveness in Christ.   For such great & priceless gifts,  *what does your Savior ask in return?   To not forget to say thanks to Him,  and to live as His holy people.    For those two things,  He has set up His Church.  Together we worship Him & thank Him regularly;  and together He teaches us to daily put away wrong things,  and to live in His right ways;  that takes time to learn.  But, that’s why He has set us free from our enemies:  to live as His thankful, holy people.


Our peace in Christ has also affected our relationships with others.   Are you at war with someone?  Are you fighting with a family member,  child,  co-worker,  or neighbor?

Because God reached out to us  to offer peace in forgiveness – when we didn’t deserve it;   so now,  in order to have peace with others,  we can reach out to them with forgiveness.  Being at war with God  or with others  is not good, & makes life miserable.  And that’s why God sent the Prince of Peace to us.    If soldiers of that Christmas truce of 1914 could lay down their weapons,  and see good in the soldiers they faced,   surely we can find the good in those who oppose us.   That is the kind of change the Son of God came to work in you & me  and in our lives with others.   It is worth the effort to start over in peace.

The Christmas truce of 1914 was a unique event;  as far as I know,  it has not been repeated in the history of warfare.   Likewise,  there has been just one Christmas Eve  and one birth of God’s Son.   One ‘silent night, holy night,’  which brought the  ‘dawn of redeeming grace’

to all.    One Jesus  is more than enough to end the war,  and win the victory for heaven & eternal life  for all of us.

On this Christmas Eve,  may God grant you confidence in that redeeming grace accomplished for us  in the manger, the cross, & the empty tomb.  Because of that first Christmas Eve,  God grant to you a daily life  that reflects His heavenly peace.