And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14
As I read these verses from Luke 2 over and over again, I can’t help but let imagination take over in a flood of wonderment. What I would give to witness this heavenly multitude myself . . . to stand with the shepherds and absorb the glory of the Lord shining around me? What would that feel like? To hear the expression of angels proclaiming a message of praise and peace. What does that sound like? Is there anything tangible that could even compare? Perhaps the only thing (in my mind) that may come marginally close would be a virtuoso orchestra and choir performing Handel’s Messiah. Majestic in its own right, and yet, it still falls exceedingly short.
The angels’ song is both an upward praise giving glory to God in heaven and an outward petition of peace for mankind. God is Magnificent and nothing satisfies Him more than extending His gift of peace in full measure to the masses. As much as I whole-heartedly believe the notion of this song, how does this angelic phrase go beyond words on a page? How does it become more than an elaborate articulation in a familiar story?
Lets take a moment to notice the context immediately surrounding this heavenly display. Read Luke 2:1-20 and note any details surrounding the song. Who is the audience? What was their reaction to the song? How did they respond?
1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared 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 men with whom He is pleased.”
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
This heavenly display was reserved for an audience of common sheep herders and their flock. We see this time and again throughout the Bible. God is all about using ordinary people in an elevated way that transforms lives. Did you note the responsive progression of the shepherds in the passage? Fear progressed into an urgent need to reconcile the news of Immanuel. At first sight of baby Jesus, the shepherds, with a new-found peace, began to proclaim their story. The angel song is their testimony. A definitive moment in their life bringing them to the realization that God is with us. The Savior is here. All who heard their testimony wondered. Mary treasured and pondered it in her heart. The shepherds responded in praise, giving glory to God for this experience.
I encourage you to find a way to acknowledge your testimony this Christmas. This is why the Savior was born. We all have a story to share. So what is your “angel song”? What is your testimony? Can you identify a definitive moment in your life that brought you to a transforming realization that God is with you? Perhaps this moment started with fear and progressed to a heart of peace that only comes from resting in your salvation. To this I say, glory to God in the Highest! He is pleased.