When I think of God’s love towards us, I think about the Christmas story–the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Imagine being a shepherd that night, and try to imagine this incredible event unfolding before you as an angel of the Lord comes to deliver a message:
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
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!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18).
It’s late one night, and you’re tending to your flock. Business is booming because the local census has drawn lots of people into town. There’s food to be prepared, sacrifices to be made, and lots of animals to sell. All of sudden, an angel appears! And, he has a very interesting message about a Savior being born in the City of David.
What’s even more amazing is what happens after this angel delivers his message: “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!”
Suddenly, heaven opens up and a bunch of angels appear speaking in unison, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” This heavenly declaration must have been very important, that God would send a host of angels to declare it.
It was very important, and sadly, I think most of us miss the real message of what they said. We’ve heard this story so many times around the Christmas holidays. We sing songs about it. We talk about it Christmas stories. We glaze over it and often miss the real message of what the angels were declaring.
They were not saying, “Tonight a Savior is born and he’s bringing world peace.” Rather, the angels were declaring God’s new attitude towards us because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. All of God’s punishment and wrath was taken care of. He no longer looked at us with judgement, shame or anger. Because of Christ, our Father now looks at us with peace and goodwill. That’s why the angels declared, “on earth peace, goodwill towards men”.
The heavenly message that night was simply this: Because of this child that is born today, everything changes. God’s thoughts toward people here on earth are now thoughts of peace and goodwill. They are good thoughts, peaceful thoughts, hopeful thoughts.
What a message of love!
This Christmas season, I encourage you to think about this story of the shepherds in the pastures that night. But think about the message they heard from the angels–a message of hope and peace. A message that God loves us so much that he sent his only son to die for us and give us eternal life.
Prayer: Thank you for sending your son to die for us. Thank you that your thoughts towards us are thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give us a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11-14).