Wanda, my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year and I sarcastically said: “World Peace.!” I was making a silly comment about our world today! And yet as I thought about what I answered I realized in every real way we have the means to achieve world peace today! Every Christmas Season that comes around we should be reminded of the glorious scene in the dead of night before a group of shepherds watching their flock. From Luke 2:13-14 states: “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’” These words from the heavenly host are short but are full of eternal importance for us “men”. So eternal and so important to us that it bears the particular necessity of under- standing our relationship to the Lord God Himself. Glory to God, peace with God through His grace to His people is what all men on the earth are told through this proclamation of what Christmas is all about. With so much ill will towards our fellow men around us today, remembering this glorious truth declared in praise to our Lord God is an essential foundation for our eternal joy! A joy that is everlasting and present for us now especially during this Christmas Season. “Peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Peace among men because of peace with God due to His favor to us through our Lord Jesus! Glorious! Joyous! Let’s hear John Calvin on verse 14 from his New Testament Commentary:
14 Glory to God in the highest. The angels begin with thanksgiving, or with the praises of God; for Scripture, too, everywhere reminds us, that we were redeemed from death for this purpose, that we might testify with the tongue, as well as by the actions of the life, our grati- tude to God. Let us remember, then, the final cause, why God reconciled us to himself through his Only Begotten Son. It was that he might glorify his name, by revealing the riches of his grace, and of his boundless mercy. And even now to whatever extent any one is excited by his knowledge of grace to celebrate the glory of God, such is the extent of proficiency in the faith of Christ. Whenever our salvation is mentioned, we should understand that a signal has been given, to excite us to thanksgiving and to the praises of God.
On earth peace. The two clauses, Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, do unques- tionably agree with each other; but if you do not place men and God in marked opposition, the contrast will not fully appear. We must now see what the angels mean by the word peace. They certainly do not speak of an outward peace cultivated by men with each other; but they say, that the earth is at peace, when men have been reconciled to God, and enjoy an inward tranquility in their own minds. We know that we are born “children of wrath,” (Ephesians 2:3,) and are by nature enemies to God; and must be distressed by fearful apprehensions, so long as we feel that God is angry with us. A short and clear definition of peace may be obtained from two opposite things,—the wrath of God and the dread of death. It has thus a twofold reference; one to God, and another to men. We obtain peace with God, when he begins to be gracious to us, by taking away our guilt, and “not imputing to us our trespasses,” (2 Corinthians 5:19;) and when we, relying on his fatherly love, address him with full confidence, and boldly praise him for the salvation which he has promised to us. Now though, in another passage, the life of man on earth is declared to be a continual warfare, (Job 7:1,) and the state of the fact shows that nothing is more full of trouble than our condition, so long as we remain in the world, yet the angels expressly say that there is peace on earth. This is intended to inform us that, so long as we trust to the grace of Christ, no troubles that can arise will prevent us from enjoying composure and serenity of mind. Let us then remember, that faith is seated amidst the storms of temptations, amidst various dangers, amidst violent attacks, amidst contests and fears, that our faith may not fail or be shaken by any kind of opposition.
Among men good-will. Others read good-will in the nominative case, and still mistake its meaning. They refer goodwill to men, as if it were an exhortation to embrace the grace of God. I acknowledge that the peace which the Lord offers to us takes effect only when we receive it. But as good-will is constantly used in Scripture in the sense of the Hebrew word, the old translator rendered it beneplacitum, or, good- will. This passage is not correctly understood as referring to the acceptance of grace. The angels rather speak of it as the source of peace, and thus inform us that peace is a free gift, and flows from the pure mercy of God. If it is thought better to read good-will to men, or towards men, it will not be inadmissible, so far as regards the meaning: for in this way it will show the cause of peace to be, that God has been pleased to bestow his undeserved favour on men, with whom he formerly was at deadly variance. If you read, the peace of good- will as meaning voluntary peace, neither will I object to that interpretation. But the simpler way is to look upon good- will as added, in order to inform us of the source from which our peace is derived.
Day after day we hear of folks losing their lives pursuing their self-will and greed, I encourage you, especially this time of year, to focus your life and time on the above. Pursue peace and receive it from Almighty God and spread good will not ill will towards your fellow man. There is no other peace or hope available except through our best Christmas gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Christmas. May you and your family enjoy Christmas this year with the “‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”