With just two and a half weeks until Christmas Day, you may wonder why I chose John 20 for this episode. Well—thanks to the heartwarming presentation Linus gave on the stage of the Charlie Brown Christmas special—I feel a need to clarify the angel’s words in Luke 2:14.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (KJV)
Goodwill toward men is better translated as “toward men of goodwill.”
The NLT puts Luke 2:14 this way. “Peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
The NIV says, “…on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
In John 20, Jesus greeted the terrified disciples the same way the angels greeted the terrified shepherds—with the hope and promise of peace. Jesus is the prince of peace. Having peace is not dependent on being at peace with the world. The angels did not promise the shepherds that there would be goodwill among all men. Peace was given that night to the people who would receive their newborn King.
Jesus greeted His disciples with a reminder of his gift of peace when he exclaimed, “Peace be with you!” The Bible uses exclamation marks, so don’t miss our Lord’s excitement. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus spoke the traditional Hebrew greeting: Shalom Aleichem!
The New Testament was written in Greek, but Shalom Aleichem is how you say, “Peace be with you” in Hebrew. All thirteen letters of Paul, both of Peter’s letters, one of John’s, as well as Jude’s letter, and finally Revelation ALL include a form of that very same greeting. But Jesus spoke this well-worn phrase on just one occasion. Jesus waited until after His death and resurrection to greet His beloved disciples with the traditional Hebrew greeting: Shalom Aleichem!
At Christmas, the angels announced that peace had come to earth. At Easter, Jesus gave us the best gift we could ever receive—peace with God forever. Peace with God comes through faith in Jesus Christ, who is our Peace.
Shalom Aleichem! Peace be with you, now and forever! Once you receive this indescribable gift, you can believe and speak today’s declaration with blessed assurance.
This week’s scripture: John 20:19-21, 24-26
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