There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:8–14 This is a familiar passage of scripture. All too often we use it to create a certain mood and get ourselves into the “Christmas spirit.” The problem is we don’t really think about what this is saying. Instead of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” many translations actually render Luke 2:14 to say, “peace among men,” or “peace toward men of goodwill,” or something similar. Since this tends to be the
dominant interpretation, most people think that the angels were proclaiming that Jesus’ arrival would stop division, end strife, and usher in a new era of peace on earth. They believe that this announcement means that the Lord was coming to bring peace among men. Yet, that’s not what this verse is saying. A Sword Jesus himself declared: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matthew 10:34–36 The Lord also prophesied that one of the signs of the end times would be increased war, division, and strife. Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:6–8 You simply cannot defend the position that Jesus came to
bring peace among people. Now it’s true that there are benefits available for those who will receive the Prince of Peace into their heart (see Isa. 9:6). By God’s grace, you can turn the other cheek, love your enemies, and operate in a different degree of love (see Luke 6:27–29; 1 Cor. 13). I don’t doubt that there has been a tremendous amount of peace among men as a byproduct of people receiving salvation—but that’s not the message the angels were singing. That’s not what Jesus himself said He came here to do. Jesus Ended the War What were these angels proclaiming? Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14 They were announcing, “Peace. Good will toward men from God!” Prior to the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, God was at war against man’s sins. His wrath came upon people because of the sin in their lives. Many Christians haven’t mentally separated this out and really looked at it. They just run everything in the Bible together. Yet a closer examination of God’s Word reveals that there was a wrath and a judgment from God against people in the Old Testament that is totally unjustified and wrong in the New Testament. Why? Jesus ended the war between God and man. He made all the difference!