“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, goodwill toward men!'” Luke 2:13-14
On the night of Jesus’ birth, a multitude of angels declared a short but very mighty message to the shepherds. A message which first declared and praised the nature of God, and second declare the all encompassing nature of God directed towards mankind and creation.
As the majority of us will be hearing these words read in church services around the world today, I would like to take some time this morning to expand upon the meaning of some of the words in this declaration so when it is read to us again as we celebrate the birth of Jesus we can share the awe of this declaration with the shepherds and what they were told that night so long ago.
The word “glory” is the Greek noun “doxa”. This word is used to equate to the total divine nature of God, that which is completely revealed from beginning to end. Right now, when we praise and worship God we do with a limited and incomplete picture of who God is because of the mask of sin we wear and the limits of time and space we are subject to. But thankfully, when this world comes to an end and God is displayed in all His glory on the throne of heaven, our worship will be unhindered just as the worship the angels displayed towards God that night to the shepherds. We can only imagine now what that type of worship will look like, but the shepherds that night got a foretaste of heaven and we can only imagine what a wondrous sight that was.
The word “peace” is the Greek noun “eirene”. This word means a divine promise that is brought about by God’s mercy to grant deliverance and freedom from distress. I can't think of a more wonderful promise being declared by the God of the universe. Mercy is the ultimate gift all mankind needs and that night the angels declared God's mercy had come to the earth and it's purpose in essence was so save humans from the constant distress of sin that this world, even to the core of each of our hearts, plagues us with.
Finally, the word “goodwill” is the noun “eudokia”. This word means a free will offering for a gracious purpose upon the recipient. Therefore the angel’s proclamation told of the divine promise, Jesus, who was being sent out of God’s great mercy as a free will offering intent to pour grace and love on all people and all of God’s creation with the sole purpose of delivering us all from distress. That was, and still is, the gift of Jesus.
Jesus came as a gift from the Father who is beyond our comprehension. His ability to love, give grace, and bestow mercy on the undeserving and the fatally flawed is a gift we all need and yet in this world can only begin to understand how necessary He is to our survival. Jesus was sent not because we or any part of God’s tainted creation could do anything to deserve the gift of Him, but rather as a free offering from the Father, whose greatest desire is to give the gift of deliverance to His all encompassing creation (man and world alike).
Jesus is the deliverer, the One and Only Son of God, the Perfect Lamb, the Prince of Peace...He alone is able to remove all sin and death and restore everything back to the glorious perfection in which all was conceived to be before the beginning of time. And now, because of His victory over death, the glorious perfection that awaits us for eternity stands before us and asks us to accept Him as gift from our loving Father.
What are you going to do with the gift of Jesus this year? I hope you will sing out your praises to your heavenly Father, just as I plan to do today, and rejoice along with the angels in declaring the glory of God that has brought peace to the earth and goodwill toward man.