Good News of Great Joy (Part 3)

Recap:

In the previous post we learned that the birth of Jesus is good news of great joy for those who realise they need a saviour. We also saw, by looking at the parable of the prodigal sons, that many of us might be more lost than we initially thought. I suggest you read PART 1 & PART 2 of this series first to get a better idea of where we are in our study.

Key Scripture:

Now, today we will attempt to determine what exactly this good news of great joy entails. We are still in Luke 2 and we will be focussing our attention on verses 12-14 to answer this question. It reads as follows:

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!& (Luke 2:12-14).

So after the angel tells the shepherds where to find the saviour baby (v.11), the angel continues to tell them how they will be able to recognize the child (v.12). This in itself should be a lesson to us. I’ve heard many people saying God has spoken to them or showed them a vision of some kind and yet when they have to relay the message it is vague to say the least. They use phrases like “the Lord show’s me there is someone here who has a bad back” or “there is someone here who needs prayer” etc. That’s simply not how the God of the bible does things. Our God is specific and purposeful.

This is what the above mentioned scripture shows and this truth is easily affirmed throughout the bible. When Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, to announce the birth of Jesus, he told her precisely how it would happen—the Holy Spirit would come upon her—and that Jesus would be called the Son of God (Luke 1:26-35). When the Lord appears to Ananias (Acts 9:10) He tells Ananias exactly where—Straight Street at the house of Judas— to find Saul of Tarsus. The same goes for Cornelius (Acts 10:1-6). The angel of the Lord tells Cornelius exactly where to find Peter (In Joppa, in a man named Simon’s house by the sea).

So we must be careful when we allow people to minister into our lives. I am convinced that if a message is truly from God, God will make it clear enough for both the messenger and the intended recipient to recognize the fulfilment of it. The same way he did for Ananias and Saul and Cornelius and Peter. Now let’s continue with our scripture…

Glory to God:

In verse 13 we see a multitude of Angels joining our messenger angel in praising God. And what do they say?

Glory to God in the highest (Luke 2:14)

This is interesting. In the previous post we learned that a saviour was born for the shepherds and for all mankind (v.11). For many people, when they hear Jesus was born to save them they think it’s because of who they are or perhaps because of what they’ve done. If this was the case then the cry of the angels would’ve undoubtedly had us (mankind) at the centre of their praise.

This is clearly not the case. Although Jesus was born for us he was not born because of us! He was born for God’s glory and for our good. But what exactly does that mean? Well when I say the birth of Jesus is for God’s glory I mean two things:

1) Displaying the glory of God:

First I mean that the birth of Jesus serves in displaying the glory of God. Jesus is the image of God, the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature (Col.1:15, Heb. 1:3). The glory of God is the manifestation of God’s holiness. Now, God’s holiness is His distinctness or uniqueness in all his attributes and worth. This means that God is in a class of His own. Therefore the glory of God is when those unique attributes are made known to us, when His holiness goes public.

When the bible says Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory it means that when we look at who Jesus is and how he lived on earth we see who God is. So in Jesus’s birth as a saviour we see God’s mercy, love and forgiveness on display. This is affirmed by scriptures like the famous John 3:16 which says that “God so loved the world, that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have eternal life”.

2) Evoking praise toward God:

Secondly, I mean that the birth of Jesus serves in evoking praise, reverence and worship toward God. The word translated as glory in Luke 2:14 is the Greek word “Doxa”, which is defined as “what evokes good opinion”. Not only does Doxa convey God’s infinite intrinsic worth but it more accurately refers to the opinion that is formed and exercised as a result of beholding the manifest holiness or character of God.

So when we think of Jesus being born as the saviour of the world—and we see God’s love, mercy, grace and faithfulness on display—our response should be to glorify God by worshipping Him reverently. The angels understood this and that’s why they all cried out “Glory to God in the highest”! It is important to remember that glorifying—that is worshipping, praising and honouring—God is not adding to God’s glory (that’s impossible) but rather acknowledging that He is God.

Peace between God and man:

Again we see that the birth of Jesus is primarily about God, not us. With that being said, it does have significant meaning for us as it pertains to our relationship with God. Remember it’s for God’s glory but also for our good. What does that mean? Well let’s return to our key text:

&Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!& (Luke 2:14).

The key phrase here is “on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased”. So the birth of Jesus means peace for those with whom God is pleased. The word translated as peace in this scripture is the Greek word eiréné which means wholeness. According to the Strong’s Greek dictionary, an example of this is when all the essential parts of something are joined together, thus bringing peace, harmony and wholeness. I think this verse can be understood in two ways:

1) Peace on earth:

Firstly this peace can be understood to mean peace for people who have pleased God. This means wholeness in people’s lives. We certainly see this in the life of Jesus. Everywhere he went he brought wholeness to people. “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38).

2) Peace with God:

The second way and perhaps the more important way to interpret the peace mentioned in Luke 2:14 is that it refers to peace with God for those with whom he is pleased. Remember the shepherd’s reaction when they were confronted with the glory of God? They were afraid because they are sinful creatures at odds with a righteous Creator.

The birth of Jesus therefore presents them with an opportunity to be saved from the wrath of God and be made whole through the forgiveness of sin and a never before experienced intimacy and relationship with God. This is done through the forgiveness of sins. Everywhere Jesus went, he healed people both physically as well as emotionally and spiritually. This is complete wholeness. This is why Jesus often times combined healing and forgiveness when he ministered to people (example Mark 2:2-12)

So peace with God—that is, reconciliation with God—translates to peace—healing and restoration—in our lives. This is complete wellness.

By grace through faith:

It is important to remember that we are all under the curse of sin because of Adam’s disobedience (Rom. 5:12-21). However, when we put our trust and hope in Jesus we are immediately justified—declared righteous and saved from the penalty of sin (Rom.3:20-26)—by God. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8). This means we did nothing to deserve being saved but that we are beneficiaries of God’s unmerited favour (grace) and we receive this gift by believing God. Furthermore, we are gradually being sanctified—being conformed to the image of Jesus and being saved from the power of sin (Rom.8:28-29, 2Cor.3:18)—through the grace of God and our Spirit-of-God empowered obedience to his will for our lives. Finally, there will come a day when we will be glorified—presented to Christ as spotless and without blemish as we are saved from the reality of sin (Eph.5:27, Rev.19:6-8)—as the bride of Christ.

This then is the good news, that God sent his son as a saviour to bring peace to those with whom God is pleased. And this peace will continue abounding in our lives as we continue to live lives that please God—which are lives that find their satisfaction in enjoying God as the supreme pleasure of our lives. Saving us is an act totally done at God’s prerogative and discretion because of the love with which he loved us from before the beginning of the world (Rom.8:29-30) and we receive this gift by believing God.

So now that we know that the birth of Jesus is for the glory of God and for the good mankind…how should we respond to this truth? We will explore this question in next post as we wrap up the series with Luke 2:15-20. God bless you.

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