We tend to read the Christmas story in terms of what we get in the deal – it’s good news because we get a savior! And we really needed one! But let’s not miss what this Christmas season tells us about God Himself.
No doubt, the most staggering, the most humbling and moving truth in the gospel is that God actually wants you and me. God didn’t grudgingly send His Son into the world. He was glad in the sending. He took great delight in the giving. There is joy in the saving work of God.
Here in the birth announcement of Luke 2 is God, on the night His Son was born as the incarnate Lord, so delighted in what He was doing that He had to announce it:
“To YOU is born a SAVIOR… PEACE on earth… GOOD WILL toward men…”
But before you think about how the incarnation impacts you or me specifically, you need to see the character of God revealed in the giving of His Son. Look at the heart of God revealed in the above announcement:
It actually pleases God to redeem sinners. His heart was full of good will. His purpose in sending Jesus, in giving Jesus was to redeem people and to adopt them as children of God – to bring them into the circle of His own fellowship, His own family.
We are inclined to think of God as distant, hard to reach, kind of detached from what’s going on in our world. Many of us wonder when we see the news these days – where is God? Did God reluctantly give up his Son to save whoever was willing to look to Jesus in faith? That’s not what you find in the Bible – it’s right there in Luke 2 – on the night Jesus was born, God’s messengers give the announcement of our salvation and then there is great joy.
God’s joy is there in the response of angels, whom God sent. Consider Luke 2:13,
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”
You cheer and high-five when your favorite football team wins a game, but it’s not your victory. You weren’t even playing. And it’s just a game.
The angels that burst into praise that night were not expressing joy that a savior was finally revealed for them. They didn’t need a Savior. Those were un-fallen angels. Suddenly they are shouting and cheering like it was their team that won the game. They were so full of gladness they couldn’t keep quiet. A multitude of the heavenly host, an army of angels, all shouting and cheering like a massive stadium full of happy fans at the final whistle. I don’t know what that is like, but we read that those shepherds were sore afraid, which, I think, means they were terrified out of their minds.
What would you think if you were awakened from a deep sleep on a quiet night (we assumed it was quiet I guess because the song says so: silent night…All is calm, all is bright…). Suddenly you were awakened from a deep sleep to discover you’re in the middle of a football stadium full of cheering Carolina Panther fans celebrating their team’s last-minute victory. Talk about an adrenaline rush!
If time travel were possible and I had the opportunity to go back to one moment in biblical history to see it happen, that night outside of Bethlehem with the shepherds would be high on my list. To see the joy of Heaven that couldn’t be contained…. the gladness of God spilling over in this announcement, and that gladness reflected in the joy of the angelic host.
We make Christmas all about us, but really there are two great outcomes in the birth of Jesus:
(1.) God is glorified as His heart for redemption is clearly manifested in the world.
(2.) We got a Savior.
We tend to make it all about us – We think the angels were only delighted because God was offering us peace. It seems to me that what moved the angels to joy was what this meant to God. They seem to be sincerely overjoyed with gladness for God’s victory – not just for what this meant for them or us.
What God announced for centuries finally happened. God’s heart has always been for gathering a people for Himself, for drawing human beings into fellowship with Himself into the Trinity love that has existed for all eternity… and now, that is happening.