V. Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Was not Zechariah devout and faithful? Was not Mary humble and holy? Was not Joseph noble and righteous? Were not the angelic messengers glorious and terrifying? All true, and yet the hosts of heaven do not sing not a word about them.

How much worse to hear about ourselves at Christmastime, as if our “Christmas Shoes” kindness, our “It’s a Wonderful Life” of good works, our even our “Bob Cratchit” gratefulness was at all the main point of the story. A flurry of virtue brought on by “the Christmas Spirit” is all well and good, unless it re-directs glory away from God in the highest and points it towards men on earth. “Glory to men on earth” is not what we need, and it is not what the angels sang on Christmas night. “Glory to God in the Highest!”

“And on earth…” Glory goes up to heaven, but earth is not left out. Christmas is no time for forgetting the things of earth. God made this world, and He loves it. But we tried to steal His glory for ourselves, and shattered the peace of Eden. We are glory thieves who steal from God. Peace on earth is dead, and we killed it.

And so if peace was to come back to the world, it could only come as a gift. It could only come from God, which is why God alone gets the glory. But God gets glory precisely because He gives peace. “On earth peace…” It is a glorious thing to restore peace to a world at war with God, with creation, and with men. When God sent Jesus Christ to be born as a baby in Bethlehem, peace re-entered the world, and as Christ’s rule increases, so does His peace.

But the peace that God gives to the earth is not a general peace, a universal declaration that heaven is now reconciled with earth, that no one needs to be afraid of God any more. The peace of Christmas is a particular peace: peace among those with whom God is pleased, peace that comes to those toward whom God has good will. In fact, the other place where Luke uses this term “goodwill” is in Luke 10:21, where Jesus praises God for hiding the things of the kingdom from some, and revealing them to others, “for such” Jesus says, “was your gracious will.”

And so in order to rejoice at the good news the angels sing, you need to know who these people are, these people with whom God is pleased, and if you are not among them, you need to know how God might be pleased with you, too.

Good news! The answer is easy to find. What caused the angels to burst into song? It was the birth of Jesus Christ, about whom God says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Peace comes to earth through Jesus Christ, because God is pleased in Jesus. And so the way to celebrate Christmas, the way to glorify God in the highest, the way to know peace on earth is to be found in Jesus. Not to be “like Jesus” – otherwise, the glory would be ours. But found in Jesus, made one with Jesus, trusting in Jesus, united to Him by faith.

In Galatians 3, we read these words: “in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Do you believe that Jesus Christ embodies the glory of God, and through His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension peace has come to the earth? Have you put on Christ through baptism? If you have, then God is pleased with you, and the peace of Christmas is for you.

If you have not trusted in Christ and been baptized, do you long to know peace for yourself, and to see peace on earth? If there were another way for peace to come, then glory would belong to that way, and not to God in the Highest. But there is no other peace, and there is no other God who deserves glory. Listen to the song of the angels, and ask God to work that peace in your heart through Jesus Christ, so that He might be pleased with you, as well: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”

Posted on Monday, December 28, 2015 by CJ Bowen