Peace among men

Mar 15, 15 Peace among men

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14 ESV

A Study 

 

The New Testament (NT) portion of the Bible is written in ancient Greek, which is a language that has richer nuances than our English. In the verse above, some Bible translations state instead “Peace on Earth, Good will towards men”. Reputable Bible scholars believe that the former is the proper translation. The difference is due to a missing “accent” mark in some ancient Bible manuscripts. [On the integrity of Bible scripture, there are many good books but for a great apologetic (defense of Christianity) overview, check out Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell’s book “More Than a Carpenter”.]

 

Regarding the two different translations of this verse, a recent article I came across put this in proper perspective, which is does it matter? The writer’s point (and I concur) is that if you take the entire Bible in context, Old (Hebrew) and New testament scriptures, God is shown as a Holy God (Creator of everything BUT evil), who strives through out our history to show us our selfishness and our need for Him. He woos us and hopefully we realize that only He can rescue us (hence why Jesus is called Savior of mankind). Because of His Holy nature, God requires our righteousness, which means our Right-standing before Him. He can’t change His Holy nature and would we want Him too? Because, think about it, Evil would still be able to effect us. Over and over the Bible tells us that God requires a person to recognize that only God gives us value and therefore only with Him do we have peace in this broken and evil world, and, because of his Holy and unchangeable nature, only He can give us a Right standing before Him. If we don’t have that, we are lost to Him forever. To put it into context to the verse above, it is that right standing that pleases Him and gives us peace with Him.

 

If a person realizes that they need Him in this context, God is faithful to save. (Bible verses: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9)

 

But human history is rift with our inability to realize this, even while Jesus lived on earth:

John the Baptist, the “crazy prophet” cousin of Jesus, proclaimed a very unpopular message to the Jews in his time, in order to prepare the people for the message which Jesus would bring. It is still unpopular today. John’s message to his hearers was that they needed to repent: recognize their sinfulness and turn back to God. John and Jesus were very critical of the Pharisees, one of the sects of Jews, who put all the emphasis on following the Jewish rules (Mosaic or Moses’ law, which include the 10 Commandments), without following the intent, which is to love God & to exemplify love for God’s creation, specifically people (because you must love what God loves), whether Jewish or Gentile (non-Jewish), and to humbly serve His will. They had missed the point entirely. (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…” From Old testament (OT) book, Deuteronomy 6:5,6)

 

In NT Matthew 9:11-13, we see a similar situation: (The below example is mentioned in Luke 5 and in Mark 2 as well.)

 

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors (NOTE: they were despised by regular Jews because they grafted an extra amount from the taxes they collected for the Roman conquerors) and sinners came and were reclining (NOTE: people reclined at low tables to eat – this was how they fellowshipped together) with Jesus and his disciples (Students). And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he (Jesus) heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

Prior to my becoming a Christian, because I was interpreting this without any context to the Jewish worldview, I thought Jesus was saying that there were SOME who were righteous and therefore, didn’t need him. Now, though, I agree with the exegesis that Jesus is stating sarcastically (and bore out in the rest of scripture and in the OT book he references), that no person IS righteous. Jesus/God is only able to make headway with those who know their sinful (selfish) condition. This was why John the Baptist was preparing the way for his people (it was prophesied about John approximately 700 years earlier in Isaiah 40). Jesus came to save because we can have no right standing before God on our own BUT you have to accept this of yourself: your need for Him.

 

From the NT it states: “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10 and “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. 1 John 1:8. Some OT references are found in Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1, Psalm 142:2, to name a few.

 

If you don’t already know this and therefore, are not in a right standing before God because you have not yet accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation, please take the time to ask Him or at the least, to wrestle with God about the need for this. Ask Him for His Truth and then be willing to let it take you anywhere in your thinking no matter where it will take you. While you wrestle, ask for His protection against His enemy and therefore humankind’s enemy, the evil one known as satan/Lucifer. Jesus said of him: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Without Jesus, there is no life.

 

I’ve been a Christian since March 2008. I started the real wrestling in 2005. I told God wherever it would take me, I wanted to know His truth. It was quite a revelation to realize that His truth IS Jesus as only Savior. I then had to make the decision whether I’d place my belief and faith in this. I know it’s not an easy decision. I realize its very humbling to change from a previous belief / worldview but I pray that you’ll investigate Him on your own. Only one path leads to God and He initiated it because He loves us and only He can save.

 

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