“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:12–14)
Peace for whom? There is a somber note sounded in the angels’ praise. Peace among those on whom his favor rests. Peace among those with whom he is pleased. But without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). So Christmas does not bring peace to all.
“This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). Or as the aged Simeon said when he saw the child Jesus, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed . . . so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34–35). Oh, how many there are who look out on a bleak and chilly Christmas day and see no more than that — a sign to be opposed.
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11–12). 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 hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
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 (Philippians 4:6–7).
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 among those with whom he is pleased! Everyone — from every people, tongue, tribe, and nation — who would believe.