Reading Time: 9 minutes
“In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!” Luke 2:14, CJB)
Our opening text for this week’s message is a very popular “Christmas verse,” widely used around the world this time of year. The verse above is from the complete Jewish Bible, meaning both OT & NT Jewish interpretation of the entire Bible. Other versions such as The King James version say it like this:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14, KJV).
Textual evidence does favour the reading “peace among men of good will,” that is, men who are well-disposed toward God and their fellow men.
The following texts from both the Old Testament & the New Testament suggest that God’s Word gives us what we need to know if we want to be a people of good will: Matt. 22:36–40).
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]? (Micah 6:8, AMP)
“Now people, listen! What does the LORD your God really want from you? The LORD your God wants you to respect him and do what he says. He wants you to love him and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 10:13 So obey the laws and commands of the LORD that I am giving you today. These laws and commands are for your own good.(Deut 10:12-13, ERV)
He said, “Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?”
Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbour the same as you love yourself.’All of the law and the writings of the prophets take their meaning from these two commands.” Mat 22: 36-40, ERV).
According to the manuscripts on which the KJV is based, the actual reference in Luke 2:14 is to the expressed “good will” of God toward all people; according to the others it is to the effective “good will” of God operating “every nation tongue, kindred, and people” around the world.This promise alone of “peace to all people of good will,” is especially powerful, even in the face of our most crucial unmet needs.
Christ is the “good will” of God incarnate. (Mat 1:21) Jesus is “God with us NOW.” That is exactly why we have an “everlasting gospel.” (Rev 14:6-7). THE Saviour who when given our hand to hold, is in real time, our personal “everlasting love.” (Jer 31:3) Jesus is our “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), the One who proclaimed, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). As the result of His first coming (Mat 1:21, Isa 7:14, Isa 9:6) it is our privilege to “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). “He is our peace” (Eph 2:14). It is the “peace of God,” which keeps our “hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7) that is promised through the “Christmas Story” to everyone who is of “good will.”
Can you hear The Saviour calling: “take up my cross and follow me?” (Mark 10:21) Today, now, won’t you go with Jesus through The Garden? (John 18:1).
When we go into the garden with Jesus we can be
“…like that grain of mustard seed, which a person took, and cast into their garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the birds of the air lodged in the branches of it.” (Luke 13:19).
It is our own character and personal experience with Jesus that determine our influence upon others. In order to convince others of the power of Christ’s grace, we must know its power in our own hearts and lives. The gospel we present for the saving of souls must be the gospel by which our own souls are saved. Only through a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour is it possible to make our influence felt in a skeptical world. If we would draw sinners out of the swift-running current of fear and deceptions, our own feet must be firmly set upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.
The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of a person with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favour of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.
Remember that we cannot read hearts. We do not know the motives which prompted the actions that to you look wrong. There are many who have not received a right education; their characters are warped, they are hard and gnarled, and seem to be crooked in every way. But the grace of Christ can transform them. Never cast them aside, never drive them to discouragement or despair by saying:
“You have disappointed me, and I will not try to help you.”
A few words spoken hastily under provocation, rattled off discomfited, (losing our composure), we count it as just what we think they deserve, but that may very well cut the cords of influence that should have bound their hearts to ours in Christian love. What would Jesus sound like if He spoke or acted the way we do when we are mad or upset? Would it even sound like Jesus if he gave us what we truly deserved? This year for Christmas, why not try to remember and celebrate that Jesus was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. (see John 3:16-19).
This year for Christmas, as the ground is covered with beautiful white snow, and the stars shine in their place like diamonds in the sky: Let us drink a cup of silence to The Lord. Drink of the cup that will banish malice hate greed and all manner of evil. Drink of the cup of silence in The Garden, alone.
“Come ye apart and rest a while.” Like Jesus. (Mark 6:31). Drink the silent cup and lay our burdens down. Like Jesus did. As we drink that cup, it will over flow. The oil of gladness will overflow from that cup! (Psalms 45:7, Heb 1:9). And then others can drink! Drinking your cup of silence. The breath of God will flow around the heart, saying “peace be still.” (Mark 4:39), For the “peace on earth is to people of good will…” (Luke 2:14).
This year for Christmas, I want to be the one who runs back to Jesus and says “Thank you Jesus!:”
When Jesus saw the men, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” While the ten men were going to the priests, they were healed. When one of them saw that he was healed, he went back to Jesus. He praised God loudly. He bowed down at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (He was a Samaritan.) (Luke 17:14-16). This IS The Loud Cry Of The Christmas story! “Thank you Jesus!” (Luke 17:15-16).
Thank you Jesus for coming the first time Isa 9:6, Mat 1:21) and thank you for the promise that you will come again, the next time. (John 14:3).
Thank you Jesus for all of your precious promises.” (2 Pet 1:4).
“So all of [us] should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. The Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy true life and have only good days, then avoid saying anything hurtful, and never let a lie come out of your mouth. Stop doing what is wrong, and do good. Look for peace, and do all you can to help people live peacefully.” (1 Pet 3:8-11, ERV).
This year for Christmas, all I am asking for is love. The love of Christ. The reason for the season. The reason to say “thank you Jesus.” For Jesus came down to us, to be treated as we deserve that we may be treated as He deserves.
Yesterday, I experienced a profound example of this kind of love. One of the young couples I have been discussing the Bible with a bit called me up and said “can you come to our place for Christmas dinner?” I was quite shocked. They are not church people. They don’t even have a Bible yet. They are on welfare and have many troubles, plus they just found out that they will be parents. And I know for a fact that it would be (for them) a really major expense to have someone over for Christmas dinner, yet thats exactly what they called me for.
Well, all I did when I was last there was to tell them what Jesus has been doing in my life. I told them how I lost my wife a while ago to cancer. And how Jesus has helped me to face it all. And they just didn’t want me to be alone on Christmas day! I have been wondering what it is that I need to teach them! Maybe Jesus brought me to that house for them to teach me?
Once we have that personal experience the work should not stop at my own house. With just me. Do I really want my neighbours to perish? In the past I have been guilty of saying/thinking:
“My neighbours, or “those people” do not care about heavenly things.”
But what kind of a reason is that? Does it really mean I should have nothing to say to people of Jesus and the truth? (1 John 1:1-3). If our Lord had treated any of us in this way, we would perish in our sins for sure!
Jesus came to me, when I was dying from massive burns to my body. Now I am living. Because Jesus laboured arduously through the kindness and Godliness of an Adventist nurse to bring me back to the Father’s house. Jesus did not treat me as I deserve! Not once! Not even a little bit!
In thanks and gratitude, I want to pursue such a course that people who are put in my path will know how/why I am Christ’s child. It is not right to let people in our daily life to live aloof from us and to just talk about the weather.
Why should I not think of the glorious things that God has promised to us, his children? Why should I keep my mind fastened on the gloom of the grave? I cannot mourn that God does not love me or anyone else. It is Satan that puts these despondent thoughts into people’s mind. Jesus loves me. I have tested the love of God for many years. I know it is rich and free. He has suffered many and grievous trials and afflictions to come upon me, to draw me nearer to him. He has said, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8). This is the work I should do at this present time. I should be more in earnest, and by living faith I will claim the promises of God. There is such a thing as proving God.
A very dear Pastor friend of mine lost his wife a number of years ago to cancer. I recall going to see her in hospital “for the last time.” I couldn’t stop the tears. I burst out crying and she smiled and embraced the moment with the most amazing testimony I have ever heard or see, She was clutching an old shoe box, and holding it to her chest. Through the tears, my curiosity got the best of me and so I asked, “whats in the box?” She handed it to me and as I took the lid off all I saw was a lot of little scraps of papers. And with a radiant smile, and tiny beads of sweat on her face, she said
“that’s my promise box.”
There were all kinds of scripture quotes and quotes from various Christian writers in her promise box. Of course, I had to say:
“Can I take one out and read it?”
She said yes, and the one I pulled out was amazing. From the book Great Controversy, page 622
“we should NOW acquaint ourselves with God by proving His promises.”
There were tears all around the bedside when I read that quote. We all knew that in this case, it was about the resurrection. That is the reason for Christmas. It truly is about the cross. Without the cross their would be no resurrection, and the first coming, (Mat 1:21) would not be needed either!
Christmas is the reason for the season.
Christmas is the reason we are to go to people, and bring the light to their homes. For they might not find it anywhere else. And if we are in “lock down” again, then its just time get on the phone or the internet to say Jesus came down, “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14), and now, because Jesus came down, we can rise up in “the power of His resurrection,” (Phil 3:10) to testify the Saviour is here for us today and He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Heb 13:5).
THAT is the Christmas story! And Jesus came down to the tavern on his way to the Church! (Isa 9:6, Isa 7:14, Acts 2:47). Jesus “added to the church daily!” Is your church doing that now?
All I can say, over and over as I write this is
Thank you Jesus.
Thank you Jesus.
Thank you Jesus.
Dear Jesus, let me live another day that I might glorify your name.
“Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.” (Psalms 83:1, KJV).