KJV Luke 1:46-47 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
2,000 YEARS AGO, THIS SAVIOR WAS BORN IN BETHLEHEM… The birth of the ages…
KJV Luke 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
THIS BABY, OF COURSE, WAS JESUS, GOD ALMIGHTY HIMSELF… The Son of God and God the Son…
NIV Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
NAS John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
“THE WORD WHO WAS IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD IS A LIVING Person – But He is more. He is the living expression of what is on God’s mind – But He is more. He is the living expression of what is on God’s heart – but He is more. He is the very heart of the Almighty God of the universe laid bare for all to see.” – Anne Graham Lotz
THAT’S WHO JESUS IS; JESUS IS GOD IN FLESH. The Word became flesh…
NAS John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
NET John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.
JESUS IS THE UNKNOWABLE GOD MADE KNOWN. Jesus is God revealed, is God made known. It is only through Jesus can we truly know God.
“ADAM KNEW HIM AS A BELOVED FATHER… Eve knew Him as the original Homemaker. Noah knew Him as the Refuge from the storm. Abraham knew Him as a Friend. Moses knew Him as the Redeemer. Rahab knew Him as the gracious Savior. David knew Him as the Good Shepherd. Elijah knew Him as the Almighty. Daniel knew Him as the Lion Tamer. Mary Magdalene knew Him as the Bondage Breaker. Martha knew Him as the Promise Keeper. Lazarus knew Him as the Resurrection and the Life. Bartimaeus knew Him as the Light of the World. John knew Him as the glorious King upon a throne. Surely you and I can know Him too!” – Anne Graham Lotz
NAS Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
KNOWING JESUS IS MY LIFE JOY, MY VERY REASON FOR LIVING. I hope you agree
“HE IS… The Wind beneath my wings, the Treasure that I seek, the Foundation on which I build, the Song in my heart, the Object of my desire, the Breath of my life – He is my All in all!” – Anne Graham Lotz
JESUS IS EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD AND TRUE AND RIGHT AND JUST…
KJV John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him (the disciple Thomas), I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
WHO IS JESUS? JESUS – AND ONLY JESUS – IS THE WAY. Jesus and only Jesus is the truth. Jesus and only Jesus is the life, life eternal.
A BEAUTIFUL DIGRESSION FROM OUR PASSAGE, I SUGGEST, MAY BE FOUND IN THE LAST VERSE OF CHAPTER 7 OF THE GOSPEL OF MARK. Therein, in my opinion, is contained – without exaggeration, I would argue – one of the most beautiful statements in all the N.T. about Jesus. I urge you to contemplate with careful consideration these six words in the middle of v. 37…
KJV Mark 7:37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
WHO IS JESUS? HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO DOETH ALL THINGS WELL…
KJV Luke 2:13-14 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, good will toward men.
“SUDDENLY”… The Greek word can also be translated “unexpectedly.” I think it is accurate to say that the emphasis Luke intends to portray is as much on the unusualness of the action as it is on how quickly it occurs…
ONE WRITER I READ THIS WEEK BELIEVES THAT ALL THE ANGELS, every good angel (not the evil angels who rebelled with Satan, of course) that God created was there at the announcement of the birth of the Son of God…
“A MULTITUDE IS BEYOND COUNT… I believe that every one of God’s angels was there because this was the most amazing event that had ever happened in the entire universe. I think the heavenly host stretched from horizon to horizon, obscuring the winter constellations. I like to imagine that they radiated golds, pinks, electric blue, hyacinth, and ultraviolet – maybe they were even sparkling. And when they lifted up their voices to God, it was in cosmic stereo.” – Hughes
I, FOR ONE, BELIEVE THIS PROBABLY WAS SO.
THIS VERSE IN LUKE REMINDS ME OF A VERSE IN JOB…
NAS Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
THIS IS IN REFERENCE TO CREATION. The “sons of God” here in Job refers to angels. This is a fascinating verse that we don’t have time to go into in detail, but just let me say that in the Hebrew text the word “all” is present. “All the angels shouted for joy!” And both the Hebrew words for “sang” and “shouted” are intensive words that signify ringing outbursts of joy! This happened at creation; this, I believe happened when Jesus was born.
I HOPE YOU ARE GETTING THE PICTURE HERE. And I hope that mental picture you are forming along with me is one of amazement, something accurately like the shepherds were experiencing. This is incredible. Suddenly along with the angel a heavenly army of angels appeared praising God…
“IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, That glorious song of old, From angels bending near the earth, To touch their harps of gold: ‘Peace on the earth, good will to men,’ From heav’n’s gracious King. The world in solemn stillness lay, To hear the angels sing.”
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST.” The Greek word for “glory” is δοξα (dox-a) has two main meanings. One is what we had in v. 9 when we read, “the glory of God shone about them.” That was God’s manifested presence, probably a kind of vibrant light. The second meaning is what we have here in v. 14. This is basically praise. When we glorify God in this sense we are praising Him. An example of this meaning is our English word doxology, which we get from the Greek word δοξα (dox-a). A doxology is an expression of praise to God. I believe the word in most cases should be followed by an exclamation point.
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST.” “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” That’s what that Latin expression we sing each Christmas means. Blessed be His name! Praise the Lord! Alleluia! Glory to God in the highest! “O Come, Let Us Adore Him!” That is glorifying God!
THE HIGHEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN IN ALL THE UNIVERSE IS THAT GOD BE GLORIFIED.
THE LAST PHRASE IN V. 14 IS A POINT OF INTEREST. “And on earth peace, good will toward men.” The way this is stated in the KJV may not be the best way to translate the Greek, as it can give the false impression that God’s peace is extended to all human beings without condition of faith, as if with the birth of Jesus everyone became saved. That’s not the reality at all, of course. Verse 14 is better translated in the ESV or the NAS…
ESV Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
NAS Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
THE THOUGHT I BELIEVE WE SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THIS PHRASE is not that Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem brought peace to all men. I think we can clearly observe that is not the case. The better translation gives the proper impression that only believers experience true peace. “Spelled out in full, the phrase might read, ‘And on earth peace among men whom God has graciously chosen, with those whom His sovereign delight rests, with them (and only them – TAR) He is well pleased.’” – Hendriksen
“PEACE” IS THE GREEK WORD ειρηνη (eye-ray-nay)… The word itself means the opposite of strife as in “peace of mind.” But the N.T. often adds another dimension, a spiritual dimension to the word. ειρηνη (eye-ray-nay) corresponds to the familiar Hebrew word שָלום (sha-lom). Biblical peace is usually not simply a calm inner disposition or the absence of war, but the word evokes a whole social and religious order of well-being, prosperity, security, harmony, completeness,
“TO BE ‘OF GOD’S GOOD PLEASURE’ IS TO BE ESTABLISHED IN A FAVORED RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM in which His mercy and power are experienced through His faithfulness to the covenant.” – Nolland
THAT’S TRUE PEACE; ONLY BELIEVERS KNOW THIS PEACE. Blessed be His name!
KJV Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
BLESSED BE JESUS!
“CHRIST, BY HIGHEST HEAV’N ADORED, Christ, the everlasting Lord: Late in time, behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King.’”
KJV Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
THE ANGELS WERE “GONE AWAY.” We imagine them leaving, I think rightly, as suddenly and swiftly as they appeared.
THE SHEPHERDS WERE THE FIRST N.T. EVANGELISTS. It is simply exquisite, in my mind, that God, the creator of all humankind and all the world would chose lowly shepherds to come to on this night of all nights.
NOTICE THEIR UNRESTRAINED JOY. The shepherds couldn’t restrain themselves; they had to tell someone about what had happened to them. They came “with haste” v. 16 tells us. New Christians commonly have joy. Sadly that joy seems to diminish in many people as years go by. That is a tragic shame. Christians should be the most joyful people in the world and instead of decreasing, that joy should be increasing.
I FIND IT INTERESTING THAT LUKE DOES NOT TELL US JUST HOW the shepherds were to find the manger child. But find Him they did. The scene has now shifted back to Bethlehem…
KJV Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
NOTE HOW MARY IS NAMED FIRST. This is noteworthy. Joseph, remember, was not Jesus’ real, physical father. Joseph was Jesus’ legal father, and that’s very important. Joseph provides the legal right to the throne. Mary provided the bloodline. Both dimensions, the legal and blood genealogies were necessary in order for Jesus to rightfully reign on the throne of David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38)…
KJV Luke 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
THE TEXT AND THE CONTEXT SUGGEST THAT THE SHEPHERDS WERE COMPELLED by their marvelous experience to relate it to others. If every Christian in America was like that, maybe this country really would be a Christian country, as we sometimes mistakenly say it is.
“SO THOROUGHLY CONVINCED WERE THESE MEN OF THE TRUTH OF THEIR STORY, and so sure were they of its importance, that they were willing to risk disbelief and even ridicule.” – Nolland
YET ANOTHER FASCINATING POINT HERE IS THAT THE SHEPHERDS seemingly did not linger over the manger scene… The Greek tense (aorist) used here means simply that they saw Him, emphasizing the completed action of the seeing. I thought a lot about this. Sometimes just a glimpse is all we need. I wondered too if they could have been hesitant to approach the manger. Remember what we said earlier of the shepherds: they were the outcasts of society; their presence caused people to recoil, yet here they are boldly proclaiming to all…
KJV Luke 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
“WONDERED” OR “MARVELED” OR “AMAZED”… “The theme of amazement at the proclamation of the Messiah runs through the book of Luke. The Greek word used here, θαυμαδζω (thow-mahd-zo), is found no less than 12 other times in Luke. In addition, two other Greek words (εξιατημι[ex-is-tay-me] and εκπλησσω [ek-play-so]), translated “amazed” or “astonished,” are found 6 more times…
NAS Luke 4:31-32 And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.
GOD IS AMAZING, TRULY AMAZING…
KJV Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
THIS VERSE DISTINGUISHES MARY’S REACTION FROM THE OTHERS. The little word “but” is important; it shows contrast…
KJV Luke 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
“DRAMATIC COMPLETION TO THIS BEAUTIFUL STORY IS ACHIEVED BY the departure of the shepherds, full of praise for God. They praise God as earlier the angelic chorus had praised Him (v. 13), and they glorify God, thus repeating on earth the heavenly recognition that in the birth of this child God has gained glory for Himself (v. 14). The activities of Jesus’ ministry to come will also frequently lead to the glorifying of God (5:25; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43, cf. 23:47 and Acts 11:18).” – Nolland
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!” “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” The purpose of all of creation is to glorify God. The purpose of your life and mine is to glorify God. May we too depart this Christmas as the shepherds did that “Holy Night,” praising God enthusiastically!
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!” PRAISE HIS BLESSED NAME! “Glory to God in the highest!” “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” “O Come, Let Us Adore Him!”
“HAIL THE HEAV’NBORN PRINCE OF PEACE! Hail the Sun of righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King.’”
MAY WE LEARN A GOOD LESSON THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON FROM THE SHEPHERDS!
“JESUS REALLY DID COME INTO THE WORLD, AND BECAUSE OF THIS, HE REALLY CAN COME INTO YOUR HEART.” – Hughes
– Professor Thomas A. Rohm