Pastor Edward Brouwer 12-24-17 “GLORY TO GOD” Luke 2:1-20
God’s Glory & Our Peace
We are looking at 4 songs in the Gospel of Luke that point to Jesus. Technically what we are looking at today isn’t strictly a song because it’s the Angels who say Gloria in Excelsis Deo. But it fits the genre of song because it’s like a psalm of praise. Like Psalm 103 that starts “Bless the Lord o my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name…and ends with “Bless the Lord o you His Angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding”. The Scripture we are looking at this morning states that first one angel appears to the shepherds and then a mighty host! How many angels are there? No one knows. Revelation 5:11 John said “then I looked and I heard the voice of many angels, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand”. You do the math. Angels are spiritual created beings that God made to do his bidding—to serve God and worship God and to minister to human beings. Throughout the Bible angels bring messages and appear when God is doing something special and remarkable. And the coming of God to earth, Jesus, God in the flesh, Emmanuel certainly merits the announcements of angels. Throughout the story of Christmas we see angels—the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary to announce the coming birth of Jesus. Gabriel appearing to Zechariah in the Temple announcing John’s birth as a forerunner to Jesus. Angels appearing in dreams to Joseph when he was considering quietly divorcing Mary. An angel (indeed a mighty host) appearing to the Shepherds…So what did the angel say and why is it important?
Read Luke 2:1-20
Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. The point that I want to make today is that God came in the flesh for HIS Glory and OUR Peace. The version we are most familiar with of course is the King James Version. And it fits well on a hallmark card. But a better translation of the Greek is “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” It’s a subtle difference but very real. The first translation makes it sound like God is bringing peace and goodwill to everyone. The second one is peace on those he pleases to give his peace to. The announcement in fact, was not good news to entrenched elites and the powerful. It was not peace to evil proud people like Herod and all his minions. It was good news of peace to the shepherds and all those willing to humble themselves before the true King—whether poor (like the shepherds) or rich (like the Wiseman).
And what is this good news? The Angel announces it “for to you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord”. The good news is that God has come into His world as a human being! “And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the bade wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger.” The Redeemer, the Messiah the LORD God! And while God came humbly into a poor family born in a barn with a feeding trough for a bed, He was attended by a mighty host of angels who announced His coming. Again what did these angels say?
First: Glory to God in the Highest—how did the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel God with Us, bring glory to God? Let me read Hebrews 1:1-6 because it makes this clear.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?
Or again, “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
God’s angels were created to worship God alone. When God chose to come to earth in the form of a servant (a man) God is attended by the angels who all worship Him. This announcement alone is evidence that the Messiah is God Himself. So Jesus could say of himself in John 17:24 “Father, I pray for them to see my glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world”. See the love that exists eternally in the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit full of love for each other. Three persons yet indivisible, One God–a true mystery. John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” john 10:30 “I and the Father are ONE”. Colossians 2:9 “for in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”
So Paul could write to the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 4:6 “God who said ‘Light shall shine out of darkness’ has shown in our hearts, to give light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus”.
The goodnews is that God was pleased to bring glory to Himself by coming to rescue us! This is mind boggling! How do we bring this home to our soul? I think of the Psalm 8 o lord our Lord how majestic is your name in ALL the earth—you have set your glory above the heavens! The heavens are so vast! Recently I watched a clip on facebook about the planets and stars. I was utterly humbled after that video. It compared sizes of moons and planets to stars. Our sun is called a yellow dwarf. One million earths can fit in it. In our own Milky Way galaxy there are other stars like Eta Carinae that is 5 million times brighter than our sun and Betelgeuse is 300 times bigger than Eta. And that is just in our small galaxy—there are lights out there that boggle the imagination and the Scripture tells us that God made all these stars to reflect HIS all-surpassing glory!
Now think of it, God also made us to reflect His glory, because we are made in His image. But in the garden in Adam, we decided we could do things our own way, we became rebels and outlaws. But God who is rich in mercy came to rescue us—He himself came!
I am reminded of the story in Chronicles of Narnia. Last week Calvin Allsbrook starred as a Centaur, in The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe here in our own Hart Theatre. You will recall that Edmund encounters the White Witch and sells himself out and his siblings for his favorite candy Turkish Delight. I am telling you this because it is an allegory of Eden. Narnia belongs to the rightful king Aslan but Narnia has come under the power and influence of the White Witch—whose cold dark power brings winter but never Christmas. BUT Christmas did come “as Aslan is on the move”. Aslan rescues Edmund. But the white Witch comes to stake her claim. Any son of Adam who is a rebel belongs to her. (In much the same way as we are slaves to sin—our desires—our Turkish delight- and slaves to the author of sin the Devil). Aslan confers with the White Witch and returns and says “she has renounced her claim on Edmund’. Edmund goes free but Aslan must pay the price of the justice served. Aslan rescues the rebel but at the cost of his own life. Why? Romans 9:23 “in order to make known the riches of His glory for us—the vessels of His mercy.”
That is the gospel in a nutshell. God coming in the flesh to rescue US brings glory to Himself. And he brings peace on earth to all those who please Him. In John 6:28 the people asked Jesus what must we do to please God? Jesus said “believe in the One whom he has sent”. This Christmas understand again the good news: God came, God calls us to believe in Christ and this is the only way to experience the true peace that passes all understanding and will keep our hearts and mind in Christ. In the incarnation God brings glory to himself by bringing us to himself—for He is our peace who has broken down every wall. Believe the Good news and share it wherever you go.