Peace for whom? There is a somber note sounded in the angels’ praise. Peace among men on whom his favor rests. Peace among men with whom he is pleased. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So Christmas does not bring peace to all.
“This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that the light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). Or as the aged Simeon said when he saw the child Jesus, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against… that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34–35). O, how many there are who look out on a bleak and chilly Christmas day and see no more than that.
“He came to his own and his own received him not, but to as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on his name.” It was only to his disciples that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The people who enjoy the peace of God that surpasses all understanding are those who in everything by prayer and supplication let their requests be made known to God.
The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men with whom he is pleased—men who would believe.
John Piper, Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent 2013 (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2013).
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