Tonight I attended Christmas Eve service with my family. As with any such service the story of the first Christmas was told from scripture. Luke 2:13-14 was read, “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.” I pondered this scripture throughout the service.
First, what are heavenly hosts? According to Wikipedia “heavenly hosts” are a large army of good angels. This makes sense because right before the verses above Scripture describes an angel giving the message of the King’s birth to the shepherds. After the angel had finished the heavenly hosts joined the angel to praise the Lord.
The second point I pondered was why were they saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men?” Of all the things they could say, why was this what they chose to say, that for which they praised God? Tonight’s sermon highlighted the message the angel brought, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Of course the newborn King would bring good tidings of great joy. After all, He is our Savior, our Messiah, our Immanuel (God with us). As I think about the praise of the heavenly hosts I can see why they praise God for the King he sent; why they speak of the peace that will come over all the earth with the presence of this new King, for Jesus is the provider of peace that passes all understanding. But why do the heavenly hosts say, “goodwill toward men.” Perhaps the reason I didn’t understand is because I didn’t fully understand the definition of “goodwill.” Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “goodwill” as “a kindly feeling of approval and support : benevolent interest or concern.” God sent His son to be born fully human and fully God because he had a genuine interest and concern for His people. He was willing to give Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Because of these verses I have examined a bit of God’s character a little more deeply than before. He is a compassionate and generous giver of love, peace, grace, and mercy, and He NEVER desires for us to hold onto guilt and shame. Those things are from Satan and from our own misunderstanding. If he wanted us to struggle with guilt and shame He would have never sent his precious son. If there is a bit of guilt or shame, residue from past sins, and you have genuinely confessed and repented, remember that to deny His forgiveness is to say His sacrifice is not enough. Let the healing begin today because Christmas is about the peace and goodwill God provides which came in the form of a baby King.