2000-12-21 - The Angels
The Christmas Characters Series, Part 13
Luke 2:10-14 And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." (NAS)
The greatest news ever spoken - the long awaited fulfillment of the promise of the ages was about to be pronounced. When you think about it, the location may surprise you. It was not in the courts of the Temple or the palaces or castles of Kings or Princes. It was not in a crowded amphitheatre to hundreds of the wealthy or intelligentsia of the day. It was on a starlit hillside that an angel, probably Gabriel, appeared to a handful of simple shepherds dutifully watching their flocks of sheep. It might be an odd thought until you remember that this is not unlike David or Moses before them. They too were shepherds that were called by heaven with news.
Gabriel hovered before them and the shepherds likely stood frozen or cowering in terror. When standing in the presence of a sinless being, charged by God to come with a purpose, I can well imagine I would be reminded of my own sinfulness and unworthiness. The group stood enveloped in Heaven's glory when the angel spoke. To their collective relief his salutation was, "Fear not …". And before they could take in the message and begin to relax, they were given a message of joy and wonder that had been awaited since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. The message was so long in coming that some doubted that it would actually come to pass, but here it was.
The faithful messenger Gabriel gave them a sign. The newborn Savior would be found wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a feeding trough. Before they could ask the obvious question of why a King would be found in such a place covered in such a way, the sky above and around them became instantly filled with innumerable angels. They were all singing praise to the God and wishing peace to those with whom God is pleased - them that love Him and longed for His coming. It was as if Heaven could not contain the praises of the angels. We are not told how long the concert of praise lasted. But when the shepherds again found themselves alone, they must have needed to pinch themselves to see if they had been dreaming. They had been given a glimpse of the glory of Heaven.
Today, Christians all over the world long for the return of their Lord and Savior. Someday we will stand in the presence of angels who will stand silent listening as we sing a song of salvation. We will joyously and faithfully praise Jesus as they did over Bethlehem centuries ago. Like the shepherds, they will sense our joy and not be able to fully understand it. Our message will be one of the completion of the plan of the ages to save mankind from sin. The angels can not fully grasp this salvation because it is not available to them (1 Peter 1:12). Yet they seek to understand it as the shepherds sought the Messiah. And we will stand before and sit at the feet of the One Who humbled Himself by shrouding His glory and power in our crumbling flesh wrapped in swathing bands. The Savior, Who humbled Himself at every turn all the way to the cross, will teach us about His mercy and grace. And He will listen as we and the angels sing His praises.
Lord Jesus - our ways are not Your ways. To us, Princes and Kings are born in palaces with the best doctors and too many attendants. But You chose to give us a constant example of humility and selflessness. You came to us and lived as a servant. But there were still perhaps millions of angels to herald the night of Your birth. And even then that was to common folk, not the leaders or scientists. The angels have been faithful to carry out the plan that still amazes me. Amen.
Grace & Peace,