Genesis 4:1-16, Romans 3:21-26, Ephesians 2:13
David knows me pretty well. When Coldplay released their album Viva La Vida seven years ago, my best friend knew I’d love it. I took his recommendation without hesitation. To this day, I still love it like few other albums.
What some don’t realize is the actual title is Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. The album hits its lyrical and musical climax with the song titled “Death and All His Friends” in which Chris Martin sings, “I don’t wanna follow Death and all his friends.” Of course, It’s not just death he is talking about, but the actual killing of another person and the horror of war.
I thought about that line a lot over the years. Who are Death’s friends? Anger, rage, enmity, hostility, jealousy—all the things that lead up to murder. All the “friends” that led up to Cain’s murder of Abel.
One of the more interesting parts of this story from Genesis is when God says to Cain after he killed Abel, “The voice of of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). What is Abel’s blood crying out for?
One of the chief themes of the Advent season is “Peace on earth,” and with good reason. Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). When the angels showed up for the birth of Jesus, they announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).
Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to make peace between God and man and, in so doing, make peace between men.
What is Abel’s voice crying out for? Peace on earth. The peace that Cain did not have with God, and the resulting lack of peace demonstrated in the the first murder.
Hebrews 12:24 tells us Jesus’s “sprinkled blood…speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” In their murders, both Jesus’ blood and Abel’s say something. Paul says Jesus was born to “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20).
For all the talk of Christmas cheer, we cannot keep “death and all his friends” at bay in the month of December. For every Christmas party there’s a funeral. There’s also the temptation to be cynical about the hearts behind the smiles and gifts offered. Perhaps you yourself are harboring “murderous” thoughts about the family gathering together. Maybe you’ve felt the violence of divorce, knowing the season will never be what it once was. Has Death visited your home leaving an empty seat at the table?
What you need to know—what must not be missed amongst all the sales and wrapping paper—is that Jesus’s coming is a response to our cries for peace on earth. Abel’s blood cries out for peace. Jesus’s blood delivers it.
written by Matt B. Redmond