Monday, November 30, 2009

Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men

Spirit & Truth # 157
“Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men”

By Rev. Greg Smith

As we enter into the Christmas season, we remember the angels’ words, “Peace on earth, good will toward men (Luke 2:14).” Some Bible scholars say this verse is mistranslated, and should read, “Peace on earth toward men of good will.” The difference between these two interpretations is tremendous! One says that we should have peace with everybody. The other says we should have peace only with people of good will. What does Jesus say?

Jesus is perfectly qualified to talk about enemies. He probably had more enemies than anybody who ever walked the earth. His enemies were politicians, religious leaders, the rich and famous. The poor and needy rejected Him as well, if He didn’t meet their needs in the way they thought he should. His followers cried, “Please, teach us!” But then when he taught them things they didn’t want to hear, they turned against Him. His friends betrayed and abandoned him when trouble came. Even before His arrest and crucifixion, the crowds tried to stone Him (John 8:59), while the priests and teachers of the law were trying to kill Him (Luke 19:47). And this doesn’t even take into account the demonic attacks on Jesus throughout His life.

All of this uniquely qualifies the Prince of Peace to talk about enemies. In Luke 9:54-56, Jesus’ disciples are angry because the people did not welcome Him. “When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.” Some manuscripts add that Jesus said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

Jesus didn’t say, “No—they don’t deserve to have fire fall on them from heaven.” Perhaps they did deserve it after all. Maybe even your enemies deserve it. But the reserve Jesus expressed had nothing to do with the enemies—it had everything to do with the kind of spirit that dwells in the believer. We choose peace, not because our enemies don’t deserve our wrath—but because the Spirit of Peace lives in us. We choose peace because we deserve to be peaceful people. And that changes everything.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This is what Jesus did, even to the point of laying Himself down on a cross. As we remember the manger this season, let’s remember to truly have peace and good will toward everyone, even those people who we don’t think deserve it.

1 comment:

Palazzo said...

you seem to be a good man happy Christmas