Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Luke 2:14b (part 2) (Holman) “And peace on earth . . . “
Don’t miss the paradox of an army of Heavenly soldiers announcing peace. Add to the irony the fact they made their proclamation of peace in the midst of the warmongering Roman Empire.
Rome gloried in weapons and armies of war, and boasted about the massive number of people they had killed. They honored soldiers of bloodshed and carnage, and gloried in the pending doom that could be heard in the blood-chilling tramp of Roman legions marching in cadence. Panic preceded them everywhere they went, for they could be heard before they were seen.
In the midst of this carnage–loving society, a baby arrived, declaring a three-fold peace. The angels were saying we humans would now have the opportunity to enjoy peace with God, with others, and inside ourselves. Few concepts are more treasured by us, yet more elusive to us. We yearn for peace.
As the War of 1812 was being fought, a flotilla arrived in New York City in
early 1815 from the peace negotiations at Ghent. Everyone expected bad news. Hostilities had continued. Peace seemed far away.
[ SAILORS AND NEWSPAPER SLIDE ]
The gloom instantly dissipated when a delegation on a small boat reached the wharf, and announced a peace treaty had been signed. The agony of war was over. People ran through the streets shouting “Peace! Peace! Peace!” Everyone who heard it wanted to repeat it.e never could have had otherwise. H News spread street to street, house to house, and person to person. Peace! Peace! Wonderful peace! This is what Jesus came to bring us.
In more recent times we saw the end of war celebrated in one of the most iconic peace pictures ever taken in USA history.
[ KISSING SLIDE ]
On V-J day, August 14, 1945, in Times Square, a photographer caught on film the moment when a US sailor (Glenn McDuffie or George Mundonca) planted a huge kiss squarely on the lips of a nurse, Edith Shain. Their picture said it all. We were a nation grateful for peace.
Soon after the creation, sin destroyed peace. We lost peace with God; Adam tried to hide from God. We lost peace with others; Adam blamed Eve for his sin. We lost peace inside ourselves; Adam felt guilty.
Ever since we lost God’s peace, one of mankind’s highest hopes has been to
rediscover it. We cannot manufacture peace on our own. Only God’s bestowed peace, given through Jesus, can be real peace.
Luke 2:14c (part 1) “ . . . to people He favors!”
There are essentially three ways this phrase can be translated, “To people He favors”, “To men of good will”, “good will to people.” I think this last possibility, which is in essence the KJV rendering, best fits our context, and seems most in harmony with the spirit of this special occasion.
A century ago, two Methodist ministers, Edgar Helms and Abraham Vereide, merged their two benevolent ministries into one. The resulting organization now has 179 independent organizations in 16 countries, providing employment training and placement, plus other community-based support services. Each year they provide over $3 billion to help more than 2.4 million people. The name of the merged organization was appropriately taken from a 1915 Christmas sermon Vereide preached on Luke 2:14, “Good will toward men”.
[ GOODWILL SLIDE ]
These two ministers got it! They understood what the angels meant by Jesus’ good will. May we too follow His example, and show good will during this holiday season.