Summary: Part 2 in a 4 part Christmas series
I could be wrong, but I think that the most commonly misused and misapplied word in the language of man, is ‘love’. If my supposition is accurate, then surely the second most misused and misapplied word is, ‘peace’.
Mankind has never known peace. Peace is not the absence of war, like darkness is the absence of light.
Peace is not refraining from shooting your neighbor when his dog digs a hole in your new lawn.
Peace is not avoiding a fight with your spouse by avoiding the hot topic.
Peace is not found in the stillness of a mountain meadow, or the steam of a Calgon bath, or the disjointed tinkling of New Age music with your tea.
Our municipalities have laws against disturbing the peace.
Nations that have long been at odds with one another, have also long talked about peace. When can they have peace? How can they have peace? But still they don’t find peace.
No peace treaty that man has ever devised has been kept. In man there is no peace; and here is why.
It is because man has never been at peace with God, and if there is not peace with God, then there can be no peace in the soul. Man was made to worship his Creator, and when he rejects his Creator and goes his way, then he also rejects peace, and his path is one of turmoil from within, that affects everything without.
Now our text says something that seems to completely contradict the facts that we see all around us; that keep us in a state of anxiety over our own personal lack of peace. It says;
“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a
multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth, peace among men with whom
He is pleased’”.
Epictetus, a philosopher of the first century, wrote in reference to the Pax Romania - the Roman peace that existed in the civilized world at the time and about which the Caesar boasted - “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief and envy. He cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearns more than even for outward peace”.
The philosopher struck right at the heart of the problem. So how do we reconcile this angel’s announcement of peace, with the evidence before us - strife and turmoil between governments, between people, and in men’s own personal lives and hearts from Eden until now?
I think the starting place, is to reconcile this announcement with the rest of scripture itself, and have an understanding of what is really being said here in Luke 2:14.
How can the angel pronounce peace among men with whom He (God) is pleased, when we know full well that God has had no cause or reason to be pleased with men from the very beginning?
Well, perhaps our first clue in our search, is found back in verse 12.
“And this will be a sign for you;
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths
and lying in a manger”.
Immediately following these words, the multitude of angels appear with the herald angel, and begin to sing God’s praises and His blessing.
Our first clue then, is that God’s glory and man’s peace rests in that manger.
The angels are saying that through the birth of Christ, true peace will come to the earth. His coming means peace with God, and peace given by God through Christ.
One writer has said, “It is the work of Christ to bring peace into all human relations - in man’s relation to God, to himself (his own feelings, desires, etc), to his life’s circumstances (calamities and trials), and to his fellow-men.”
The angel is not wishing us peace in the way we might say to each other in a Christmas card, “may you have peace in this season”.
It is not said with the same shallow intent of the “Peace” signs and slogans of the 1960’s in our own country; when the hippies held up their fingers in the shape of a ‘v’ and smiled through their clouds of incense and their drug-fogged minds and said, ‘peace, man...’
It is an announcement that true and lasting peace will come on earth to the hearts of those who are redeemed in Christ...who through faith become the sons of God.
For those who remain outside of Him, the earth and their own lives remain in a state of disorder and strife.
Now who are the men “with whom God is pleased”?
Here we have a bit of a mystery. If the message is only to a certain group, then the message of salvation is not for all. Was it to the Jews? No. God was not pleased with the Jews. It could not have been for any Gentile group, or it would have been to the Gentiles that He came.