Notice the word glory or glorify in this passage. The angels have the glory of the Lord around them. They say, “Glory to God in the highest.” The shepherds response after they go and see Jesus is to glorify and praise God.
In looking at the definition of the word, glory may be visible, as it was with the angels. There was a glow, a radiance about them. Many times when we see pictures of angels or of Jesus in the manger there will be a circle of light portrayed around their heads. With angels we many refer to it as a halo. Glory, however, is not always visible, but is the characteristic of splendor, majesty, honor or even power. And with the angels, notice that their glory is not their own, it is the glory of the Lord that shone about them. The Lord, Jesus, is the one who is majestic.
And when the angels and the shepherds glorify God, they are acknowledging his glory. You will hear the phrase, “give God the glory.” No one can make God glorious. Praises don’t give God his glory. But when the shepherds glorified God it showed that they recognized his glory. They recognized the magnitude of what was happening that night so long ago.
And what was happening?
What leads the shepherds glorify God?
1. They witness the glory of God at the appearance of the angels. They actually see the halo of light, which is the Glory of God.
2. They witness the baby wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. They went to see what the angels told them about and everything was just as the angels described it, “just as they had been told.” … therefore …
3. They believe that this child is the Messiah, the Christ. Now, no where is the word “believe” used, but a sign of their belief is that after they had seen the Christ Child, they spread the word. They went about telling others what they had seen what they were told about this child. And, again, they were told that he is the Messiah. They believed this child is, as the angels said, “Savior” and “Lord.”
The Gospel of Matthew says that when the angel appeared to Joseph he was told to name the child Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. [Jesus is the Greek for Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.”]
The shepherds were excited and glorified God, because their Savior had come. The one would save them, rescue them, deliver and protect them. The one who would restore the relationship between humankind and God.
Shall we not glorify God too?
The shepherds were there and they got to see these things firsthand. They got to be witnesses of Christ’s coming. But, shall we not rejoice that we get to be here today.
~We, too, are invited to witness the glory of God.
~We, too, are invited to experience that every Word of God is truth.
~We, too, get to experience the birth of Christ (in our lives). We get to retell and relive the story. We get to remember what this day is all about: that Jesus came to save us! That God, the very author of life, the creator of all that is living, became flesh and lived among people just like you and me, so that today, we can know him, we can be saved from things that tear us apart from him, the things that tear us apart inside. Because of today, we can once again be in relationship with God. We have the privilege of calling him Savior and Lord.
The King of Glory
The Lord is so glorious that the psalmist calls him the King of glory. Listen to the words of Psalm 24 that declare his glory. They are also an invitation to you to see and experience his glory.
You may be asking today, “Who is this King of glory?” What is it about Christmas that I’ve never known? Experience the glory of Christ. Acknowledge who he is in all of his glory.
~Lift up your head and acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord.
~Lift up the gates, the things in the recesses of your heart that block your relationship with God (and others).
~Lift up the doors of your heart, and allow the King of glory, the Lord almighty to come in and reign.
Let us join in singing glory to God, as we sing Angels We Have Heard on High. The chorus of this familiar carol are the angels’ words of praise in Luke 2: Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest)!