Today’s Reading: Luke 2:1-20
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. A peculiar choir gathers in the field outside Bethlehem. Angels gather before an audience of shepherds and sing a new song, for the Lord has done a marvelous thing. Their hymn of three parts praises the birth of Jesus and what it means for God and for us.
“Glory to God in the highest.” Glory is revelation. The glory of God in the Old Testament was the visible manifestation of His presence in cloud and fire. But as the first chorus of the angels’ hymn reverberates through the countryside, God makes Himself known in a new way. No longer wrapped in fire and clouds, the shepherds can find Christ the Lord wrapped in swaddling cloths. The flesh of a newborn baby is glory for God. The One who reigns in the highest has made Himself known by descending among the lowest.
“And on earth peace.” Jesus was born in a time of relative peace in the world. But peace on earth is often maintained by force and threat of violence; the world is always on the edge of war. The peace that comes with the birth of Jesus isn’t worldly peace, however. Since Adam’s sin, humanity has been at enmity with God. The only solution for this war was for God’s Son to cross enemy lines, to Himself become a man, and to suffer the violence that a ruler thought necessary to keep the peace. But by suffering violence, Jesus brings peace on earth. “Peace be with you,” is the message of the resurrection (John 20:19).
“Goodwill toward men!” How does one please God? A mountain of good works won’t begin to please Him; even our best works are like a pile of dirty rags. All our works are stained by bad intentions and inherited sin. But Jesus, the Son of the Virgin, earns His Father’s pleasure by His obedience. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,” declares the Father’s voice from heaven (Luke 4:22b). The same voice that declares God’s goodwill at Jesus’ Baptism also declares you to be His beloved son or daughter, and that He is pleased with you for the sake of Christ.
“Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing; Come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King. Gloria in excelsis Deo. (“Angels We Have Heard on High” LSB 368, st.3)
–Rev. Jacob Ehrhard is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, IL.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Duane Bamsch