One of the most favorite sayings and happy thoughts that are spoken frequently by people during the Christmas or “holiday” season is the phrase “Peace on Earth good will to men”. There are bumper stickers, signs, shirts, holiday cards, trinkets etc. that seek to capitalize and get out this optimistic and positive message. Even liberal secularists who reject biblical Christianity love to quote this phrase and claim it as their own. Sadly, this phrase is TOTALLY taken out of the biblical context and is perceived from a subjective godless utopian world perspective. This theme is repeated often from secular and even godless sources appearing everywhere, they like to toss around that God is love and that he preached peace on earth and that we all should simply get along.
Is that really the message the angels brought forth that first Christmas day? Let’s take a closer look shall we?
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13 and 14 ESV)
I do need to note that only the King James bible quotes Luke 2:14 without the qualifying ‘with whom He is pleased’ or ‘upon whom his favor rests.’ This is an important concept that needs to be addressed. The wicked, then as now, do not find themselves in a peaceful, loving relationship with the almighty God. They, like us before accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, are lost without hope in the world (Eph 2:12) and separated from God.
They (or us if we turn from Christ) will find themselves facing a righteous and holy God without a remedy for their sinfulness. Their unrighteousness will dam them to an eternity separated from all that is good and right without any hope of rescue, nor peace from suffering. God’s word makes it clear…his wrath will come pouring down upon the head of the wicked.
Jesus reiterated this theme when he called his disciples together before sending them out as ambassadors of the gospel. Here is what he said:
Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
The message of Jesus brings about a great divide, it causes divisions and enmity between members of a household in addition to members of society at large. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Hebrews:
Hebrews 4:12 (HCSB)
12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.
Let us not forget that Jesus came unto His own but His own received him not. Why? The problem is not with the messenger nor the message the problem lies within us. We have no peace because we chose to live according to our own desires and wants and fail to accept the truth of God’s word. We ignore the gospel of peace and therefore continue to live without peace, and hope in this world.
John 3:16-21 (NIV)
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Yes peace came into the world that first Christmas night, but only for those who accept the gift of God, sent to us from heaven in the form of a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. If we reject this peace of God we will forever be lost without hope, walking around in continued darkness, unable to ever grasp the peace that passes all understanding which can only be found through Christ Jesus. That is what the angels said that first Christmas night… Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all those upon whom is favor rests.