Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
– Luke 2:14 KJV
Christmas is the season where “Peace, good will toward men” is in our minds. But there is something more here — rather something completely different — than the vague, optimistic sentimentality that tends to go along with this phrase at Christmas time. There is something profound, and it’s twofold:
- This peace does not rest on every man; and
- This peace is God’s gracious gift
No peace for the wicked
The first thing to note is that not everyone has this peace. The KJV’s “peace, good will toward men” could have been translated “peace toward men of goodwill”, and other translations bring this out:
NASB: “…and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
NIV: “…and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
On whom does God’s favor rest? Only on the believer. The apostle John reminds us of this:
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
– John 3:18 NIV
And Isaiah as well, warns:
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
– Isaiah 57:21
The unbeliever is always looking for false comfort — a way to get by without having to turn from his sin — but if we love him, we must not go along with his deception. Rather we must point out his danger and urge him to repent — that he may both escape the coming wrath and experience God’s peace!
This peace is God’s gracious gift
The other thing to remember is that it was not by our works that we received peace with God:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
– Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
It wasn’t because we were so full of beauty and righteousness that He chose us — far from it. We were nasty whores, full of adulteries. But inexplicably, He didn’t despise us. Inconceivably, He chose us. In His loving might, He saved us and made us alive in Him! And now He’s keeping us until that day.
You see that we’ve no ground to boast — except in the cross of our wonderful Savior (Gal 6:14). May we never cease to boast in Him!
Thank God for the peace that Jesus gives to men on whom His favor rests.