“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14
Every year throughout the Christmas season, in one form or another, carolers gather to sing of the wonderful news the angels pronounced to the shepherds that first Christmas night. One of the most popular themes recorded in song is “Peace on earth, and good will toward men.” Yet, we must ask ourselves, what did the angels mean when they spoke of peace on earth?
The writers of these beloved carols seem to think they were referring to world peace here on this earth. Edmund H. Sears, a unitarian minister who made no mention of Christ in his carol, was bothered by the social conditions that ultimately led to the Civil War when he wrote, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Henry Longfellow wrote, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, amid great personal tragedy during the Civil War. The newest of Christmas Carols, Do You Hear What I Hear, was written with concern of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Though there will be perfect peace on this earth when the Prince of Peace returns, Christ’s first coming was not at all intended to bring world peace. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” The purpose of Jesus first coming was to bring peace between God and Man.
The bible clearly teaches that all have sinned, and our sin puts us at enmity against God. In a sense, our sins are a declaration of war against an all sovereign God. Though God has not wronged us in any way, He has initiated a peace offering. His Son, Jesus, is that peace offering. Jesus is God’s means of reconciliation.
Prior to the host of angel’s declaration of peace on earth, a single angel announced the birth of a Savior who was born in the city of David, which was Bethlehem. (Luke 2:11). That Savior was Jesus who was born into this world to live a perfect life that would ultimately be laid down on the cross of Calvary as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Today, for those who repent and turn to Jesus by faith, their sins will be forgiven and washed away, they will be justified, in other words put in right relationship with God, and they will have peace with God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a true peace, and this peace is the gift God gave to this world on the first Christmas day; a gift that is still available to anyone who will put their faith in Jesus.
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