Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Closer Look at a Familiar Christmas Verse

Probably one of the most well known Bible verses related to Christmas is Luke 2:14. The most familiar translation is taken from the King James version: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” 

To most, the accepted understanding has been that God’s Son came that we might have peace on the earth and spread good will amongst mankind. However, since we have not had much peace on this earth and the spreading of good will worldwide has always been in short supply we might look for another understanding.

In the original language of Scripture, Luke 2:14 reads, “Glory in highest (places) to God and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”  This exclamation carries no small amount of significance since it came from a multitude of angels who could hold their silence no longer. One angel had just announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to a group of shepherds. The rest—that multitude looking on, undoubtedly so excited over the birth of the Son of God, and what it was to mean for mankind—could not restrain their praise. Yet what did their words mean?

Luke 2;14 starts out this way: “Glory in highest (places) to God…”  Simply put, to glorify God means to prove true to others what God has said is true of  Himself.  That being said, the multitude of angels were stating a fact, excitedly I’m sure.  It was that in the highest places of heaven perhaps the greatest of God's promises had just been proven to be true!

Throughout the heavens all beings now knew that God had done what He said He would do, send His Son, the Second Person of the Godhead to take on the likeness of man, being born of the seed of a woman. Having proven true what He had said of Himself had brought glory in heaven to God.  And the angels in heaven could not be silent now seeing the reality of this miraculous event.

But this angelic host went on to say more, “…and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”  We most likely have understood and probably hoped that this angelic host was proclaiming that the birth of the Son of God would bring worldwide peace and goodwill to mankind. But sadly that has hardly been the case, as our history since that event bears out.  So if not that, then what was being said?

The host of angels have unanimously proclaimed that the objects of this peace are members of mankind who possess a unique quality, that of goodwill.  This begs the question, “Who are those people of goodwill and how did they come by it?”

Looking elsewhere in the Bible we can see that when an individual enters the human race there is nothing good in that basis model of human being.  Indeed we are all sinners from birth and in need of the Redeemer. The only good to be found in any of us is that which God produces through us.

So the answer to our question is that men of goodwill are those who have truly been brought into God’s family by accepting the work of redemption of the Son of God on the executioner's stake. And the peace that is to exist on earth is that which is given them for having made this decision, and then living in light of it.

Put another way, God’s peace is not universal. It is specific. While it is available to all who will accept God’s Son as Savior from sin, true peace will be manifested only in those who make this decision and then let God work through them.

This Christmas season we should revel at the immeasurable joy the heavenly host expressed as they saw God bring glory to Himself  by accomplishing what He had said would be true of Himself. A more timely thought however is this: “Are we demonstrating in our lives that unique peace that can only come by having made Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah and Lord, and then continually manifesting that peace in our lives by allowing God to work through us?"

May the joy you experience this season be that which comes because the peace of God is really yours through the Prince of Peace. 

Blessings in Yeshua,
Michael & Sarah