“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” – Luke 2.14From Dave Atkinson:
In his account of Jesus’ birth, Luke crams a load of information into the first twenty verses of chapter 2. There is so much going on that we can miss the enormity of the narrative. However familiar we are with the Christmas story, it is always of benefit to read and ponder on it again and again. Perhaps by using a different version to the Bible you normally use. Or just to focus on one or two verses at the time.
So today, I’d like us to ponder on verse 14.
We’re told in verse 13 that it was a great company, a multitude, of God’s angelic host that appeared to the shepherds after the first angel had announced the amazing news about Jesus. I wonder if that wasn’t just a bit “over the top”? Luke tells us that the first angel was enough to fill the shepherds with great fear, so did it really need thousands of those mighty heavenly beings to put on such a spectacular performance for a few shepherds and their sheep?
But to think that would be to miss the point entirely. The heavenly host didn’t appear for the benefit of the shepherds or any other person that might catch the show – although, of course, it had a profound effect on them.
This bursting out of praise was for God’s glory alone. The angels knew how wonderful, amazing and history changing Jesus’ birth was.
They knew the mess that sin had caused for humans. They knew how awesome heaven is – and what humans were missing out on. They knew that God had kept his promise to initiate the way to salvation, by coming himself in the person of Jesus. They knew this was the ultimate representation of God’s character because God’s glory would be revealed in the highest measure when Jesus gave up his life for us on the cross. And because of this they knew that God, in the highest heaven, deserved glory to the highest measure.
Still in praise and glory of God, the angels look forward to what this will mean for those who will accept the undeserved gift of salvation and ask Jesus to be Lord and Saviour of their life, as they trust in his saving work on the cross and receive forgiveness for their sins. Forgiveness that will mean peace with God, a restored relationship with the creator and sustainer of everything, who has thousands and thousands of angels worshipping him. And yet, whose Fatherly favour rests on those Jesus saves – forever.