In their book, Twang, Raymond Obstfeld and Shelia Burgner relate a great story about country music star, Travis Tritt.
Like many musicians, Tritt played in out-of-the-way joints before he made it big. He says many of these dives were dangerous places. Drunks would get into fights over the most insignificant things. However, Travis found a unique way to keep peace and protect the entertainers from harm. Here’s what he wrote:
“‘Silent Night’ proved to be my all-time lifesaver. Just when [bar fights] started getting out of hand, when bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I’d start playing ‘Silent Night.’ It could be in the middle of July—I didn’t care. Sometimes they’d even start crying, standing there watching me sweat and play Christmas carols.”
The second verse of the Silent Night proclaims:
Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!
Actually, this moving song is just as appropriate in July as it is in December. And so is the reading of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2. Take a moment to read it and think about the difference Jesus has made in your life.
Specifically, in Luke 2:14, just as “Silent Night” proclaims, when Jesus was born, an angel appeared to Shepherds and the heavenly hosts announced the Savior’s birth with these words: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Think about these 3 important words from this text.
The angels glorified God! The angels praised God at Creation. Often times they were messengers of good news or bearers of important messages from God. But in all they did, angels glorified God.
God deserves the glory for His plan for man’s salvation. For his wisdom in Deity becoming human. For sending Jesus to earth. For His grace, love, and mercy in providing our redemption through the sinless life, death, and resurrection of our Savior. For His great gift, to God be the glory!
The thought of this verse is often explained in the goodwill we express toward others. Wishing others well. Doing good deeds. Giving gifts. However, other renderings may provide a clearer insight into the original meaning of the angels’ words. The English Standard Version translates it this way:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
With whom is God well pleased? He was well pleased with the Shepherds who received the angelic revelation, sought Jesus, gave Him worship, and shared their joy with others. Likewise, today, when we are receptive to God’s Word, obey His instructions, come to Christ, and share the Good News with others, we receive God’s goodwill.
Peace is often defined in negative terms. Peace is not the absence of conflict among people. Or the cessation of war among nations. Or appeasement to temporarily placate people’s demands.
Peace is harmony. Concord. Serenity. Inner tranquility. Peace, as used in scripture, involves reconciliation. Peace is the fruit of restoration, responsibility, and righteousness.
Ironically the birth of Jesus was during the time of Pax Romana, the peace of Rome. Historically, it was a time of relative peace. Rome wasn’t at war. Internal conflicts were minimal. And it was a prosperous era. But only if you were a Roman citizen.
Peace was enforced with a Roman sword. It was their way or the highway. Actually, it was death. And the Jews hated it. They despised Rome. Their rulers. And its heavy hand of occupation.
In the midst of this, Christ came to bring true peace. Not political peace. But peace with God. Inner peace. Spiritual peace. Jesus said, ““Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn. 14:27).
Glory. Goodwill. And peace. These are needed qualities today. In the midst of racial unrest, concerns about social justice, political posturing, election disputes, fears of COVID-19, and disagreements over wearing masks, think about why Jesus came to earth.
Honor God. Seek His favor. And pursue inner and eternal peace.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman