Christmas According to the Angels (pt. 3 of 3)
In this final part of our three-part series on Christmas according to the Angels, we contemplate the truth that the birth announcements of the angels celebrated “glory to God” and “peace for man.”
Consider first that the angels celebrated “glory to God” (Luke 2:14) in their birth announcements for Jesus. In those words, what did the angels tell us but that in Jesus the full weight of “the Godness of God,” the perfections and excellencies of God, has been revealed? In Jesus, “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col 1:19). In other words, in Jesus, the “beauty of the LORD” (Ps 27:4) has become incarnate.
Ponder God’s beauty for a moment. The word beauty is not a word we often use about the Lord, but we should use it more. The Hebrew word in Ps 27:4 carries the idea of the utter delightfulness of God, the profound desirability of God. The point is that God is the sum of all desirable qualities. In God alone we find all moral and spiritual perfections. In Him these excellencies are found in impeccable proportion and harmony — all are found in delicate balance, stunning brilliance, and full integrity. As Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3), He is Himself altogether excellent, exquisitely splendid, supremely lovely, and radiantly wonderful. With the angelic host, let us also praise God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest” indeed (Luke 2:14)!
The angels who celebrated “glory to God” also celebrated “peace for man.” In Jesus full reconciliation with God has been made available to those on whom His pleasure rests. Does God’s pleasure rest on you? It rests on all who receive and rest upon Jesus alone for salvation as He is presented to us in the Gospel, even by the angels. With the Apostles, the angels at Christ’s birth could have proclaimed to us who have repented and believed the gospel, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom 8:33-34).
Is your conscience restless and unsure before God? Again with the Apostles, the angels of Christmas could have declared to us, “Therefore, since [you] have been justified by faith, [you] have peace with God through [your] Lord Jesus Christ. Through him [you] have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which [you] stand” (Rom 5:1-2). Therefore, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that [you] may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16, NKJV).
By faith look full in the face of Jesus, our Savior and God. In Him, you will find all moral excellencies in impeccable proportion and delicate balance, all spiritual perfections in stunning brilliance and full integrity. On the authority of God’s word, I assure you will find Christ the Prince of Peace, with the Father and the Spirit, altogether excellent, exquisitely splendid, supremely lovely, and radiantly wonderful.
The Gospel birth announcements tell us about “Christmas according to the Angels.” In those announcements we find “good news of great joy” to “all the people” as they speak to us of Jesus’ person and work and as they celebrate glory to God and peace for man.
To bring this three-part series to a close, reflect with me for a moment on the joy of the angels. There’s more to their joy than our everyday garden-variety joy.
You see, their joy is not in their own salvation, for angels will never know the joy of their own salvation. The joy they know is a joy in our salvation, a joy that has been welling up for literally millennia, since the beginning of time, way back to Genesis.
Yes, the angels who sang during creation week (Job 38:4-7) — the cherubim, the seraphim, the archangels, and all the other ranks of angels — they were all present at the birth of our first father Adam.
They were also there at the fall of Adam. In fact, it was one of their very own, a cherub named Lucifer, who rebelled against God, took the form of a serpent, and tempted Adam into sin, bringing judgment on the whole human race.
They were also there as God banished sinful Adam, Eve, and the serpent from the garden. Those angels — the ones who remained obedient — took their stations as guardians of the way to the tree of life, and they watched as God drove the man, his wife, and the serpent out of the garden.
They were there in the tabernacle and the temple, their likenesses woven into the furnishings, emblematically guarding the holy of holies against the defilement of sinners.
There they stayed … looking … watching … longing to see the triumph of God’s grace come to pass in the birth of that Savior who would deliver His people from sin and death.
They were there in Bethlehem, speaking to Joseph, to Mary, to shepherds. To this day, they speak to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through their words in Scripture. And still they are watching to see the triumph of God’s grace in us who will receive and rest in Jesus alone for salvation.
This Christmas, be sure that you have learned and remember what the angels, messengers from heaven that they are, have told us sinners about Jesus and His birth. This Christmas, be sure to share the joy of the angels, but share it in the knowledge that by grace through faith Jesus has saved you from the bondage of your sins.