The old hymn goes, “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Christmas is surrounded by the theme of “peace.” (Luke 2:13-14) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
A cobbler named Simon, his wife and children were peasants. He owned neither house nor land. He was able to support his family by making shoes. Bread was very expensive and labor was poorly paid. He and his wife had one sheepskin coat between them. And this coat was in tatters. For 2 years the cobbler had been hoarding in order to buy sheepskins for a new coat. He had saved three dollars. Five dollars more were due him from his customers. One morning the cobbler went to the village to get his new sheepskin coat. He put on the tattered coat, several woolen scarfs and a staff. He put the three dollars in his pocket and set out. He said to himself, on the way I will pick up the 5 dollars that my customers owe. With 8 dollars he could buy the new skin. At the first customer the wife said she didn’t have the money but she promised to send her husband when he got home with the money. The next customer said they had no money at all. The cobbler made up his mind to get the skins on credit, but the dealer would not give credit. The fur-dealer said, “I know how hard it is to get what is one’s due.” At first the cobbler was upset and then took a dollar and bought some whisky and started home. In the morning he had felt cold but after he drunk the whisky he felt warm even with the coat. As he walked along the road home striking the frozen ground with his staff and talking to himself. What would he do to those who owed him money? He would turn them into the police. He would never work for them again. Along the road there was a crossroads with a chapel. It was twilight but there behind the chapel the cobbler saw an object. Was it a stone? There had never been a stone there before. Was it a cow? But it doesn’t look like a cow. It was a man. He was sitting there naked in the cold and snow. The cobbler is frightened. Someone has surely killed the man. If I go near, I may get into trouble. And the cobbler hurried by. The cobbler was well down the road and looked back. The man was no longer leaning again the chapel but had fallen. The man needed help. The cobbler was still scared: If I go back something unpleasant might happen. Who knows what sort of man this is? What can be done with a naked man? I can’t give him my clothes. So the Cobbler hastened his steps. But his conscience began to prick him. A man is perishing of cold. You are frightened. Are you so very rich that you are afraid of losing your money? Simon turned and went back to the man. Simon felt at peace.
What is peace? Peace is an inner serenity that comes from knowing all is well. It is feeling the pardon of our sins. It is being set free from guilt. Peace goes deep in our souls.
I stand at my wife’s grave and yet there is peace. She is dead and I am alone. Where did the peace come from? Some would say, “Eighteen years of a good marriage.” Others would say time has brought healing. The truth, is that the peace flows from a relationship with God of knowing all is well. And that, the grave is not the end. It is merely the train station.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, Isa 26:3You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. One time when the church staff were having their Christmas party, the waiter was supposed to give me the check but instead gave every table a check. There was the panic look of some faces. It was obvious that they didn’t have enough money to cover the check. I went and gathered up the checks, there was a relieved look on everyone’s face. You know what I mean, when someone else pays the bill and you are free!
The worry belongs to God. Ps 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. That is peace. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. No wonder the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.