“‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:10-14 nkjv).
We frequently sing, “Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains” at Christmas. The season would not be complete without “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”—Glory to God in the highest. Yet how often do we reflect upon the meaning of the words the angels declared?
The praise of the angels to the shepherds recorded in Luke’s Gospel (2:13-14) underscored the reality of God’s nearness in the birth of Jesus, as well as embodying Jewish redemptive hopes of the first century. It also gives voice to the hope for redemption shared by Jews and Christians through the centuries. With the advent of Jesus, God draws near to His people—His goodwill is for everyone. His reign dawns through those who obey His will. He demonstrates that He is Immanuel—God with us.
The angels told the shepherds that their message of good news “will be to all people” (Luke 2:10). God’s goodwill is not simply for the elect; it extends to everyone, for “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45 nasb). His merciful will reaches out to all mankind to bring peace, completeness, and wholeness. And, in the birth of Jesus, God has drawn near to demonstrate within the bounds of history what His will is, to give voice and example to His will (see Hebrews 1:1-2).
God’s will is for all humankind. In the birth of Jesus, His glory, peace, and favor have drawn near to everyone. This is the good news the angels proclaimed: God is for us!
The message of the angels was an announcement of God’s nearness. God is for us, and He has drawn near to us. God is a part of human history; therefore, there is hope. God has not turned a blind eye to the suffering of the righteous or a deaf ear to the cry of the afflicted. His mercy extends to all mankind: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:13-14 nkjv).
Father, in this Advent season, as we reflect on Your nearness and goodwill toward us, may we extend Your mercy and goodwill to everyone around us, even those who are away from you. And, in so doing, may we truly proclaim with the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Amen.