Glory, Not to be Feared but Enjoyed
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them;
and they were terribly frightened.
Result of 9b
But the angel said to them,
Substitute of 9c
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I bring you good news of great joy
Grounds of 10b
which will be for all the people;
for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
Content of 10c
who is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths
and lying in a manger.”
God's Glory and Peace to Whom He Favors
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
Manner of 13b
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men
with whom He is pleased.”
The Response of those Favored by God
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.”
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
When they had seen this,
they made known the statement
which had been told them about this Child.
I Some were Amazed and Pondered
And all who heard it wondered at the things
which were told them by the shepherds.
II Mary Treasured All these Things
But Mary treasured all these things,
pondering them in her heart.
Manner of 19a
III The Shepherds Glorify God
The shepherds went back,
glorifying and praising God
for all that they had heard and seen,
Grounds of 20b
just as had been told them.
Diagram of Luke 2:10
Diagram of Luke 2:14
In the old testament, the glory of God is always something to be feared. Not only feared in the sense of reverence and awe but something to be afraid of because it can kill you for no one can see the face of God and live(Exodus 33:20, Hebrews 12:21). Most people obey God only because they're afraid of the punishment. They think of Him as a despot. A master to be feared and not to be enjoyed. Sadly many professing Christians have the same view of God. They reduce the gospel as an escape from hell and not as a means to enjoy and love God. But the God of scriptures doesn't want to be glorified through fear alone, but ultimately through the enjoyment of his glory by his people. That's why there's the gospel, a good news of peace and joy in God as we will see in Luke's account of the angels's announcement of Christ's birth to the shepherds. Glory, Not to be Feared but Enjoyed(2:8-12) Luke tells us in verse 9 what the shepherds felt as they saw the glory of the Lord. They were filled with great fear or literally feared a great fear. Similarly in Luke 1:12, when an angel appeared to Zechariah, a righteous man in the sight of God, was also terrified. The same with Mary when an angel came to prophesy that she will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit(1:29). It's a natural thing for those who recognized their sinfulness and God's holiness to fear God. And rightly so. But in these three occasions, the angel responded the same way, saying that they need not be afraid. The angel said to Zechariah: "Fear not!" He said it to Mary: "Fear not!" And now he says it to the shepherds: "Fear not!" Hebrews 2:14-15 says that Jesus died to deliver those who through fear of death have been held in a lifetime of bondage. Fear is paralyzing and enslaving, but the gospel gives freedom through a message of joy. Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy Even though there's benefit in being fearful of God's glory, the angel said to them, "Fear not!", and the reason he gave was that he came with good news of great joy. He came not to hunt and instill fear on the rebels but to bring great joy. This is in direct contrast with their great fear. Literally in greek it says, "I evangelize to you great joy." The direct object of the verb " εὐαγγελίζομαι " is " χαρὰν ". Not only that the message is about joy or that the message would result to joy but the message itself is great joy. He brings joy! This joy is not little joy, but great and abundant joy, " μεγάλην " No wonder, Luke sees salvation and redemption through the lens of Joy( 10:17 , 15:7-10 , 24:52 ) Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord This joy is grounded not on fables and myths, nor on false securities and material things, but on God's promises and their fulfillment. The angel says, "For today your Savior is born in the city of David," alluding to Micah's prophecy(Micah 5:2). God's Glory and Peace to Whom He Favors(2:13-14) Now let's turn from the message of Joy to the singing of praise. It was no accident that Luke described first the fearful reaction of the shepherds when they saw the glory of God and then an angel telling them not to fear because he brings great joy, then comes a heavenly host praising God by saying "Glory to God in the highest." It is implied from Luke's narrative that God is more glorified in joy than in fear. When great joy erupts, praises comes afterwards. We glorify something when we're enjoying that something. Praising God completes our enjoyment of God. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people Praises is the result of God granting peace. In other words we can't enjoy God if we're at war with him, and God alone initiated, so to speak, the peace treaty. What temporal peace can offer are but temporal joys. The Pax Romana or Roman Peace that was decreed by Caesar can never bring true and lasting joy. But the peace decreed by God almighty will last forever and therefore bring eternal joy. peace among people with whom he is pleased! Now we should ask; "for whom God granted this peace?" Most of you probably already received Christmas cards containing this part of the angels’ song to the shepherds on the fields of Bethlehem from the King James Version of the Bible; "Peace on earth, good will toward men". But most modern translations have a different reading. NIV reads “on earth peace to men on whom his [God’s] favor rests”; NRSV translated the phrase as “and on earth peace among those whom he [God] favors”. The difference between the KJV and the others is the difference between the nominative case and the genitive case. Most manuscripts, but with least attested reading have ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία ("good will among people") instead of ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας ("among people with whom he is pleased"). The King James Version used the manuscripts with the nominative case reading but the modern versions used the manuscripts with the genitive. The genitive is better attested and more difficult reading than that of the nominative. So, the nominative reading was more likely a scribal emandation or revision. Therefore if we take the genitive as the original reading, then the peace that the angels sang that belonged to the earth as a result of the birth of Christ is not a generic, worldwide peace for all humankind, but a peace limited to whom God has chosen in accord with his good pleasure. This is consistent with what the angel of the Lord said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus will save his people. Peace among men with whom he is pleased but remember, without faith it is impossible to please God. So Christmas does not bring peace to all. The Response of those Favored by God(2:15-20) Now how does the people favored by God responded to the gospel? The immediate response of the shepherds when they heard the good news was to see the King and proclaim it to everyone. These despised and lowly shepherds were the first evangelists. Not only that, Luke also mentioned 3 non mutually exclusive responses from the people who heard the gospel of great Joy. The structure is remarkable, it is a progression from basic response of amazement to treasuring and glorifying. I. All were Amazed and Pondered(2:18) It is only right to be amazed with miraculous signs and angelic sightings. It is natural. Remember how even the then unregenerate Nicodemus recognized the divine origin of Jesus' authority because he's amazed with the signs performed by Him in John 3. It doesn't take to be born again to be amazed at something. Some today just settle for this kind of amazement. We recognize that this is uunnatural but can't get pass that because we're just pondering how can this things be. II. Mary Treasured All these Things(2:19) But Mary does more. Even though she's still making sense the testimony of the shepherds, she nevertheless treasured all these things. We know that's the case because this is not the first time she heard an unusual message, and yet she still believed. III. The Shepherds Glorify God(2:20) Lastly, inspite of their initial response to the glory of God, namely fear, when they heard the gospel they obeyed joyfully and started praising and glorifying God. How will you respond to the sight of glory in the gospel? Are you going to be paralyzed by fear and be stucked with mere amazement or will you treasure the message and glorify God by rejoicing in it? How you answer this questions will show whether you belong among whom God is pleased.