With Gladness in Their Eyes: The Joy of Angels at the Birth of Christ

Luke 2:14
It’s easy to imagine what Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, or the Magi were thinking and feeling when they encountered the baby Jesus for the first time. I can imagine the mix of excitement, nerves, and expectation as they wondered when God would reveal the details of his plan and what kind of man this child would grow to be.

But have you ever thought what the angels of Luke 2 were thinking and feeling? I hadn’t until I read Rev. C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon on Luke 2:14 titled “The First Christmas Carol.”

Luke 2:14 records what the angels sang about the birth of Christ, overlooking a hillside full of sheep and shepherds. Spurgeon pointed out that, compared with the breadth of their experiences, this was a fairly humble job for a chorus of angels. These angels sang the soundtrack of creation, looking on as God spun into being all that we know. Several among their number had carried messages to kings and emperors.

But on that night they carried a birth announcement to salt-of-the-earth people. And yet they didn’t hold back an ounce. They gave their highest praise. And Spurgeon said, “Methinks, they sang it with gladness in their eye; with their hearts burning with love, and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves.”

Why were the usually somber angels so delighted on that night? Because in the person of Jesus, all of God’s promises were fulfilled. All the attributes of God were manifest in a form that all men and women could see and experience for themselves. In the baby Jesus, God made himself accessible to us.

To the refrain they add, “. . . and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Not since the garden had true peace with God been available to mankind. Since Adam’s sin, there had always been enmity between God and men. The sacrificial system carved out an unsteady ceasefire, but lasting peace was finally possible on the night that God closed the distance between heaven and earth. He came to us because we could not go to him.

So as you celebrate Christmas this year, carve out some time to celebrate like the angels did—by giving to God the highest praise of which you are capable, and reveling in the peace that he made possible for you and me.

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You can read more from C.H. Spurgeon on Luke in his sermon “The First Christmas Carol,” or save on other resources this Christmas that help you dig into God’s Word.

This post by Ray Deck III originally appeared in December 2014.