At Christmas, we can rejoice that God has not turned a blind eye to the suffering of the righteous or a deaf ear to the cry of the afflicted. His love and mercy extend to all mankind.
This shines forth in the angel’s wonderful proclamation to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “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 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 2:10-11, 13-14)
We often 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 actually reflect upon the true meaning of those words that the angels declared?
Their magnificent words of praise underscore the reality of God’s nearness in the birth of Jesus, as well as embodying Jewish redemptive hopes of the first century.
They also give 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 receive and obey Him. He demonstrates that He is Immanuel—God with us.
The angels told the shepherds that this good news would be for all the people. God’s goodwill is not simply for a select or chosen group of people; 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, healing, and wholeness. Through the gift of His only beloved Son Jesus, God has drawn near to demonstrate what His will is.
God’s will is for all humankind. In the birth of Jesus, His glory, peace, and favor draw near to everyone. This is the good news that the angels proclaimed: God is for us! And so we can declare with the angels,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Scripture is quoted from the NKJV except as noted.
Father, this Christmas, 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.” Amen.