“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” — Luke 2:14
What a beautifully vivid and artistic passage from the angel voices of Luke 2. The image of a choir of angels announcing the birth of the Savior can feel like the stuff of myths and legends, and yet to believe in a supernatural birth requires us to believe in a supernatural announcement of that birth.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you consider that night so many years ago? Perhaps you think of those poor, unsuspecting shepherds watching the scene unfold miraculously before their eyes, not knowing what on earth to think. Personally, I’ve always been struck by the line “with whom he is pleased!” I might be showing my reformed convictions here, but I love how the angels describe peace, that it’s for those with whom God is pleased. What pleases God? It’s not sacrifice, we know that. King Saul made some unauthorized sacrifices to God once that Samuel told him was, and I paraphrase, not cool. God makes it clear all through scripture that He doesn’t want our sacrifices, but the sacrifice of our obedience. An obedient heart is the only heart God can be pleased with and therefore have peace with.
How do we gain hearts that please God? That’s where the glorious gospel comes in. It was the birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus that made it possible for God to have peace among those with whom He is pleased. However hard this is to hear, the truth is that we are born with hearts that have no peace with God, because they’re unredeemed and unwilling to surrender to God. It’s not until God in His grace brings us to the end of ourselves, and we repent of our sins and trust in the work of Christ on the cross that we enter into a peaceful relationship with God where He is pleased with us.
On this Christmas Eve, pause to reflect on the grace that God showed mankind by sending His Son to be a sacrifice for you. Think of the possibilities it has opened up for you: peace with God, a loving relationship with Jesus and a sure hope in this life and the world to come. Let’s be clear, these shepherds didn’t return to a life of ease after their angel visitation. But they did return glorifying and praising God for all they’d seen and heard. They were still shepherds, but they weren’t solitary shepherds any longer. They were men who had peace with God because they had a God who was pleased with their obedient hearts. They were men with hearts that were humbled to see their need for a Savior. May our hearts be humbled anew by the peace giving love of our humble Savior.
Where is your heart on this Christmas Eve? Maybe it’s tired and worn out from the hustle and bustle, and in need of a good rest. Go to the Lord with your burdens. The same song the angels sang to the shepherds is being sung over you right now. If you have peace with God, praise Him now! If you don’t, pray to Him now. Confess your sins, knowing that He is faithful to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all righteousness. You will have peace. You will have God, and He will be glorified in the highest.