“10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was 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 those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:10-14 (English Standard Version)
The angel of the LORD appears to the shepherds and brings them the most astonishing news. News that would bring great joy for all people. The angel had their attention! A visit from an angel couldn’t be shrugged off. The substance of this message to the shepherds is that that very night in the town of Bethlehem right near their fields, a Savior who is Christ the Lord, the One they all awaited, has been born. This Savior is not an ordinary Savior, he is not a military hero, he is not just a prophet or teacher, but the Lord, the Christ, the Messiah Himself. While Luke’s Gospel account of the message does not go into the details of the nature of this Savior, Matthew’s account of the angel’s appearance to Joseph, the husband of Mary, does shed some light on the nature of the work this Savior would perform. Joseph is told to name the child Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). When the angels tell the shepherds that the child is the Savior, Christ the Lord, it is the work of this child that will save people from their sins.
Let’s consider the parable that Jesus tells about a shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep to search after the one sheep who has wandered away, and he searches for it until he finds it (Luke 15:1-7). We love the compassion, the determination, and the saving work done by the shepherd. Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:14,15). How fitting that on the night Jesus was born, the Lord sends the angel to shepherds and foreshadows His own work as the Good Shepherd.
The narrative pivots from one angel appearing to the shepherds to a multitude of angels singing praise to God in Luke 2:13. The company of angels praises God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest.” God is glorified through the praise of the angels, and God is glorified when we acknowledge God as God of all and praise Him for His mercy given to us so freely. On this night, the angels enthusiastically praise God for the birth of the promised Messiah. God is to be praised in heaven and on earth.
Man has alienated himself from God by his sin, but Jesus Christ brings reconciliation between God and man, healing the souls of all those who trust in Him. Christ also comes to bring peace between God and humanity. Christ comes to bring peace on earth to those with whom He is pleased. The apostle Paul says this in Romans 5:1,
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are pleasing before God through Jesus Christ and only through Jesus Christ. We have peace with God only by trusting in the work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf. We receive God’s gift of eternal life and peace with God through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
I wish each of you a blessed Advent and Christmas, as we celebrate together the gift of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.