“On Earth Peace, Good will towards men” This is what the angels proclaimed at the birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20 are the well-known events of Jesus’ conception and birth. Here is the angelic announcement in Luke 2:10-14. This time of year is when we remember these words, the singing of angelic noels, the trip to Bethlehem, the “star” hovering over the manger, the visits of the shepherds, as well as the wise men coming to visit the baby king, bearing their precious gifts.
It is said that the “Second Advent Candle” is about peace. The normal story of Christmas is cited as above.
“Peace on earth!” What a wonderful, desirable concept. Certainly Gods knew that mankind needed peace, so He sent the Lord Jesus to deliver it.
This is where the story often ends. Or does it?
What is peace exactly? There are many types and descriptions. I think the most basic definition would be “a lack of conflict”. Of course, there are both inner and outer conflicts, and many types of each. So, peace will look different for each. What did the angels mean, then?
Scripture does not speak of “Christmas” the way we do. It is imperative that we look at Scripture and conform to it rather than making Scripture conform to us, society, or tradition. In doing this regarding Christ’s incarnation we have opened ourselves up to changing other Scriptural truths as well. Again, we must allow Scripture to conform us, not vice versa.
What really happened? Is the celebration of the Lord’s birth as confusing to us today as it was to the people of Jesus’ day? (read John 7:40-53)
We often describe the angels proclamation in terms that seem to give mankind a hope, “at peace”, and that the world will be alright, if only for a brief time. Yet, if one looks at the New Testament accounts of the birth of Christ, we find very little actual peace and a great deal of conflict and confusion. We really never give a lot of thought to Joseph’s feelings, about he and Mary having to get up and travel suddenly because of a government decree. What about the difficulty of Mary traveling being ready to deliver? What about being unable to find a suitable place to sleep or deliver the baby? Not exactly “peaceful”. Probably not much of a “Silent Night”.
Luke 2:21-35 – Simeon, a very old man, has been waiting to see the Lord’s Christ. Jesus is 8 days old and is brought into the temple where Simeon sees him. Notice what Simeon says in verses 29-35. He speaks of salvation, light, and conflict because of the Lord Jesus. Now turn back to Matthew 2:1-18. This is a sad event, and this is where the wise men actually come to see Jesus – not in the manger at his birth, but in a house about 2 years later. There is no “star” over the manger. What does King Herod do once he discovers that the wise men went back a different way? Not very “peaceful” is it? Finally, Matthew 2:19-23 reveal why people were so confused about the man Jesus Christ in John 7.
What did Jesus Himself say about “peace”. Read Matthew 10:34-36. Then read the verses prior and after. Again, not “peaceful”. See Luke 12:49-57. Also note Micah 7:6.
The truth about Christ’s incarnation is: He didn’t come to make earth peaceful, or to bring mankind together. He actually separates close friends, family, and there is a lot of conflict.
So, then, why did the angels proclaim peace? There is peace when Christ is the focus, but not necessarily earthly peace. Christ teaches about “His Peace” in John 16:33. Actually the entire chapter, along with chapters 13-15 need to be read for this verse to make sense.
Then there is “Peace with God”, Romans 5:1 This is an inner peace that comes from being born again, trusting in Christ for eternal salvation. This peace means that the conflict with God is now reconciled, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
Then there is “Peace of God”, Philippians 4:7. Here there is an inner peace for those who are not only Believers in Christ but who are actively following Him. It is a peace from recognizing that the Lord God is Sovereign and submission to His Will is the ultimate peacefulness.
Then there is “Peace from God”, Romans 1:7 and many others, in which the source of true peace is revealed.
Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, not to bring earthly peace, or peace to mankind; Jesus Christ came to bring peace with God to those who were at conflict with God, which was every person ever born or ever to be born. Sin makes us God’s enemies, and only He could make the way for reconciliation and ultimate Peace.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” John 3:16,17
Some many ask, “Why do I write about this? Shouldn’t Christmas be a happy time, one that cheers people?” Yes, I suppose it is and should be, and people certainly need some holiday cheer. I am not trying to take that away.
The incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest historical event ever. It should be a great comfort and encouragement to us, and to the world, that our Creator loved us so much that He entered our realm to bring true Peace. May that be our real joy at this season.