This past year, we have seen news reports of people rioting in city streets, suicide bombers in public squares, deranged gunmen opening fire in random acts of violence, brutal murders and rapes and kidnappings. We have experienced the continuing threat of COVID-19, of looming inflation and of nuclear weapons possessed by rogue dictators. At the same time, we hear almost weekly of negotiations for peace. Sometimes the negotiations are nothing more than veiled threats themselves. All of this while we are told to wear masks, separate from each other and get a vaccine.
Without doubt, we are living in a world of violence and oppressive fear. But God offers peace! He announced His offer over 2,000 years ago on a starry winter night outside of Bethlehem. It’s an offer that has proven to be extremely effective, and one that is still valid today.
Read Matthew 11:25-30 with Luke 2:8-14.
I. THE REVELATION OF GOD’S PEACE:
The Basis of God’s Peace
- Who did Jesus address in Matthew 11:25? Give the phrase Jesus used to specifically identify the Person to whom He was speaking.
- How did the Apostle Paul also use this same phrase? See Acts 17:24-28.
- In the multicultural, pluralistic world of Jesus’ day, why do you think it was important for Him to identify God with this phrase? What do you think it meant to the hearers?
- With what other name did Jesus address God in Matthew 11:25? How many times in Matthew 11:25-27 did He address God in this way? What does this reveal about His relationship to God?
- Who else has the right to address God in this way? Give phrases from John 1:12-13 and Romans 8:15-17.
- Explain how a person establishes a relationship with God that gives him or her the right to call Him Father. See Ephesians 1:13-14.
- How is this personal relationship with God the basis for peace? See Romans 5:1; 15:13.
- What can you do to help someone else establish the basis for peace in his or her life?
The Barrier to God’s Peace
- What are the implied obstacles to experiencing God’s peace? Read Matthew 11:25.
- How do the following verses describe barriers to peace? Isaiah 48:22; 59:1-2, 8; Ezekiel 13:8-12; Micah 2:1-3; James 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:17.
- Are the greatest barriers to God’s peace external or internal? Political or spiritual?
- How did the removal of God’s Word from homes, classrooms, businesses, public conversation, and even from some churches, present a barrier to peace in our nation? Read Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 54:13; Mark 4:39 (KJV); 2 Peter 1:2.
The Blessing of God’s Peace
- Who has God revealed His offer to, and why? See Matthew 11:25-26.
- From the following verses, describe “little children”: Matthew 5:9, 45; 18:2-4; 1 Peter 1:13-15;
1 John 5:18-19; Revelation 21:6-7.
- What is the key to experiencing God’s peace personally and/or nationally? Read Isaiah 9:6-7.
- Based on the above verses, what do you think Psalm 122:6-7 is really asking us to pray for?
- Write out a prayer for peace in Jerusalem, in America and in our world, based on the revelation of God’s offer revealed through all of the verses in this study.
The Breadth of God’s Peace
- In Matthew 11:27, what phrase refers to Jesus’ extensive knowledge of God’s offer? His exceptional knowledge?
- What phrase refers to the fact that this knowledge is exclusive?
- What is the scope of God’s peace? See Isaiah 11:1-9 and Zechariah 14:9.
- Until Jesus comes back to establish peace on the earth, how can you and I participate in offering God’s peace today?
II. THE CONDITION FOR GOD’S PEACE:
Come to Jesus
- How is the invitation in Matthew 11:28 different from inviting someone to church, or to join an organization, or to donate to a ministry or to convert to a religion?
- Write out the invitation as you would extend it to a friend. Use Colossians 1:19-25 and Ephesians 1:7-8 as a reference.
- Who is invited to come to Jesus? Who is excluded from coming to Jesus? See Matthew 11:28.
- Give the circumstances and/or characteristics of those who came to Jesus in the following verses, and their reason for doing so: Matthew 11:2-3; 8:1-4, 5-13; 9:1-7, 18-26, 27-31; 14:25-31; 15:29-31; 17:14-18; 18:1-4. Describe each person as in a contemporary situation.
- Have you met the basic condition for God’s peace? When and why did you come to Jesus? What were the circumstances at the time?
Continue with Jesus
- What two commands did Jesus give to those who came to Him? Read Matthew 11:29.
- Using a dictionary, or Google, describe a “yoke” and what it means to “take My yoke upon you.”
- Describe how you learn from another person.
- Compare how you learn from another person to how you learn from Jesus.
- What have you learned from Jesus today? This week?
- If you obey these two commands, what is His promise? See Matthew 11:29.
- If you lack peace in your heart, what steps do you need to take to re-evaluate your relationship with Jesus?
- How do the following verses encourage you to continue with Jesus? See Matthew 11:30; Galatians 6:9; Colossians 1:21-23; 2:6-8; Hebrews 10:35-38; James 1:12, 25; 5:10-11; 1 John 2:28.
III. THE CELEBRATION OF GOD’S PEACE:
- Give phrases from God’s promise years before it was fulfilled, from: Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 18:17-18; Isaiah 7:14; 53:1-5; Micah 5:2, 4-5.
- In your own words, describe how God’s 400-year silence was broken in Luke 2:8-14.
- What promises did God give to all people through His angels? See Luke 2:11-12, 14.
- Although Jesus has come, why do you think we have yet to have peace on earth?
- Who were the first people to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise? See Luke 2:20, 25-32, 36-38; Matthew 2:1-12. Why do you think these people were selected by God as some of the first to celebrate?
- What promise has God given to you?
- Do you think God’s silence in your life indicates that He will not keep His promise to you?
- As you reflect on God’s promise that was kept the night the Baby was born in Bethlehem, would you celebrate by faith the fulfillment of His promise to you, even before you receive it?
- What ultimate promise does the first coming of Jesus confirm? John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Zechariah 14:9-11.
This Christmas, as your gift to the King for His birthday, would you tell someone about God’s Peace? Tell them how there can be peace in their hearts … peace in their homes … peace on their streets … peace in the Middle East … peace in Washington … peace on earth. ©2021 Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in December 2013.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, which she co-authored with her daughter Rachel-Ruth Wright, is “Jesus Followers: Real-Life Lessons for Igniting Faith in the Next Generation.” It is available from major booksellers online.