As the legend goes, during the winter of 1914 in the midst of World War 1, along the Western Front on a battlefield in Flanders (Ypres, Belgium), the war raged on from the depths of the wet, muddy, cold trenches that extended for miles. The Germans were engaged in battle against the British and the French, when at some point during the evening hours of December 24th the shooting ceased. Germans began placing Christmas trees on the ground outside their trenches, illuminating them with candles. The wintery air was still. Gradually the words, “Stille nacht, heilige nacht” (Silent night, holy night) rose softly from the trenches floating across “No Man’s Land” to the ears of the “enemies” some 100 yards away. In turn, the British responded with “O Come all ye Faithful.”
Gradually signs appeared from the German line saying, “You no fight, We no fight.” In time soldiers made their way over to the other side where they exchanged presents: tobacco, cognac, chocolate cake, postcards, newspapers, and buttons. Some rifles were even exchanged for a soccer ball which lead to a spontaneous game in No Man’s Land (Germans 3, Allied 2). Even a Christmas Day dinner was shared. There was peace; impending death and bloodshed was staved off, if only for a moment in time. After a day, a week in some areas, fraternization ceased, the truce terminated, and it was back to “business.” 4 years later the mounted casualties would be 8.5 million dead, 21 million wounded.
Why is peace broken among men? After all, didn’t Christ come to give peace?
Flash back to another night, in Israel, to the birth of Christ. Luke 2:14 tells us what those angels proclaimed on that glorious night in Bethlehem when they heralded the Prince of Peace. The angels came to the shepherds and declared, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
This is a passage whose content has been largely altered to supposedly identify attributes among, or between men, when that is not the case. To whatever degree God desires man to be at peace with each other, this is not a reference. To whatever level God wishes for men to confer good will upon each other, this is not the appropriate passage. This passage is about the Savior coming to the world, to redeem mankind, and therefore, it is about the benefits bestowed regarding God and man. If this were not the case we would have a hard time reconciling the words of Jesus in Luke 12:51 when He says, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.” He will bring division because some will embrace and follow Him, while others will not. That peace and “good will,” which the King James Version calls it, will not be received by every person on the face of the earth but only those to whom God issues favor. Thus, the tension, and the division. Not all will bow their knee to Christ.
What Luke 2:14 is saying is that God is to be exalted and praised because in the giving of His Son in the flesh, He has provided a means for those whom He has called to be at peace with Him, through the blood and atonement of Christ. Romans 5:10 tells us that until we are reconciled to God through Christ we remain enemies with God. Philippians 3:18 says that those unsaved are actually “enemies of the cross of Christ.” His eternal peace will rest upon all those who are covered in the blood of Christ.
That peace offering, that olive branch extended to mankind some 2000 years ago is not about the war that may be raging between you and any other person. It is about the battle that rages between you and God. But Christ has been sent to this earthly realm to remedy that, to take away all your sins, and bring you into a proper relationship to God.
Don’t reject it. Surrender. Lay down your arms and raise the white flag.
Peace to You.